Let’s Talk About How Ridiculous Chris Rock’s "Controversial" Oscars Joke Seems 11 Years Later

It seems pretty tame 11 years later.

By Seija Rankin Oct 21, 2015 7:18 PMTags
Chris Rock, OscarsMichael Caulfield/WireImage.com

Big news came out of the Academy Awards camp this morning: The 2016 ceremony finally has its emcee. Chris Rock will be capping off a very successful few years by picking up the very front-and-center hosting gig. 

The comedian cemented the announcement today by tweeting a photo of himself with the caption "Look who's back," which got us thinking about what went down 11 years ago. After all, this isn't Rock's first foray into Oscars hosting territory; he took on the job way back in 2005, to...er...mixed reviews. In fact, it's fair to say that his performance was almost as lambasted as last year's Neil Patrick Harris' calamity. (But we still love you, NPH!).

At the time, Rock's hosting gig was criticized mostly for one joke in particular that landed to terrible reception. Today's awards show audience is certainly not strangers to offensive monologues, which is what makes the 2005 controversy downright entertaining. Let's look back at what went down. 

It all started with Jude Law. Yes, Jude Law. This was 2005, and the actor was kind of that period's Bradley Cooper. He was incredibly successful, and at the Oscars he was coming off of roles in Alfie, I Heart Huckabees and The Aviator, to name a few. He had also made the awards show circuit the year before with nominations for his performance in Cold Mountain. So it only makes sense that Rock singled him out for a little jab. Although, for fairness' sake, this was more like a running joke. 

"Who is Jude Law?" he asked in the monologue. "Why is he in every movie I have seen in the last four years? Even if he's not acting in it, if you look at the credits he makes the cupcakes or something." He also followed that up with, "You want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law? Wait."

To us, that's a good—and fair—joke. But in 2005, people didn't think so. Sean Penn was especially offended, taking the opportunity during an awards presentation later in the evening to awkwardly pronounce "Forgive my lack of humor, Jude Law is one of our most talented actors." Oof.

But let's take a second to compare this joke to today's material. Any of Jude Law's potential hurt feelings aside, this is so tame! If you were to read an article about controversial awards show jokes today, you would be subject to some actually disturbing digs. Like when Seth McFarlane said "[Django Unchained] is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who's been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie."

Or when Ricky Gervais said "I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson." Or "Jodie Foster's Beaver...I haven't seen it myself. I've spoken to a lot of guys here, they haven't seen it either." Or "You could be a little Asian child with no possessions and no money. But you could see a picture of Angelina Jolie and you'd think, ‘Mummy!'"

Yes, when the Jude Law joke is taken in context with the 2015 way of thinking, it's almost laughable how tame it is. We have no idea what kind of digs Rock will think of this time around, but something tells us that Jude has been able to move past 2005.