Chris Rock is an American comedian and actor. He was born on 7 February 1965 in Andrews, South Carolina, U.S. He is also a filmmaker and has become a well-known media personality for quick-thinking jokes and edgy humour.
Over the course of his career, Chris Rock has been a prominent figure in Hollywood, hosting two versions of the Oscars. Since 1994, he has also released seven standup specials. On 4 March 2023, his seventh special Chris Rock: Selective Outrage was released on Netflix.
Background To The Chris Rock Special
Chris Rock: Selective Outrage was performed live at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, Maryland. It came in March 2023, a year after he was slapped at the 2022 Oscars by Will Smith after he had made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. As it was his first special in five years, it included a response to the infamous incident.
The special served as the first attempt by Netflix at streaming a global live event. Before Chris Rock’s performance, there was a live preshow hosted by Ronny Chieng. The special also featured appearances from several other media personalities including Matthew McConaughey, Bono, Arsenio Hall, and Leslie Jones.
Controversial Moments During Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage
As the special was broadcast live, it was susceptible to having controversial moments that could not be edited out. Although the show was highly anticipated as a response to the incident at the 2022 Oscars, much of the special involved jokes about a range of topics. However, the last 10 minutes focused on Rock’s reaction to the incident in 20202.
The special included a mistake near the end where Chris Rock botched a key part of a joke by getting the title of a movie wrong. He had intended to make a joke about Will Smith’s award snub for his role in Concussion but instead mentioned Emancipation. The first half hour of the special also included several jokes that appeared to make the audience uncomfortable.
Editing Of The Live Show
Comedy specials are usually filmed over several performances and then edited into one special. However, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage was performed and broadcast live, so it was not edited in this manner. It was a new experience that felt different for watching audiences.
The show was directed by Joel Gallen, whose work is mainly in live award shows including creating the comedic short films that became the signature of the MTV Movie Awards. For Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, the cameras were locked into Rock’s face and body, following him as he walked across the stage. It also includes reaction shots from the audience at varying intervals during the performance.
The opening act of the special, led by Ronny Chieng, was done to warm up the audience and get them ready for the main event. This opener was filmed live but at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. The post-show was also filmed live at the Comedy Store and featured a panel breaking down and analyzing Rock’s performance. In the week following the broadcast, the special underwent extra editing, most notably fixing the Concussion/Emancipation joke.
The reactions to the special were a mix of negative and indifferent reviews. Most of the reviews highlighted that Chris Rock’s comedy had changed from his earlier days and was now more conventional and predictable. The special was also disappointing for many viewers who had expected more of the show to be a reaction to the incident at the 2022 Oscars.
The opening act from Ronny Chieng and the post-show were also heavily criticized. The post-show in particular was criticized as a disaster and a bad way to present comedy. However, despite the reception, the special has been nominated for three 2023 Primetime Emmy Awards awards.
Critical Analysis Of The Chris Rock Show
While the special was anticipated as a response to the incident at the 2020 Oscars, it lasted for 68 minutes and the incident was addressed only in the last 10 minutes. However, during jokes in the first hour, there were several subtle references to the slap. The range of jokes included jabs at several people, as well as occasional commentary on social issues.
In his reaction to the Will Smith incident, Chris Rock appeared to be angry, even going on to mess up his lines on a joke. Most of his jokes and apparent anger were directed at Jada Pinkett Smith, as her reaction to his joke at the Oscars appeared to change Will Smith’s reaction to the same joke. Overall, the special seemed to be an attempt by Chris Rock to control the narrative after the infamous incident.
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