Understanding American English. Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Understanding American English. Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Chris Rock saved this year’s 88th Oscar celebrations with a bullish, loud and funny swipe at all parities in the dispute. He accused the academy of racism and accused people of taking the no-black-nominees scandal far too seriously. He even took time out to have a go at the sexist nature of the fashion-show-bonanza of the pre-party red carpet.

But can you understand what he was actually saying. What with the in-jokes and the african-american accent and grammar, it was not an easy one for non-natives. Have a look at this montage of highlights from his opening monologue and see what you can catch. It’s tough, but the good news is that it’s only a minute long, so you can really concentrate.

The guardian’s highlights from the Chris Rock opening monologue

He shouts out his words, but the accent can be hard to understand. As well as the references.

Here’s a brief synopsis to help you:

  1. He references the apparent racism of the academy by referring suggesting that if it had been up to them, he would not have been appointed. Notice how these kind of American accents run words into each other “y’all be watching be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now” instead of “you would all be watching”
  2. He talks about the fact that there have been no black nominees for the vast majority of Oscar award ceremonies. His grammar is patchy and words are cut out: “because we had real things to protest at the time”. Should be “We had real things to protest about at the time”
  3. Nice blue joke about those actors who boycotted the awards.


Montage = Selection of clips in a movie accompanied by music. Often used to speedily convey the passage of time. Or as a look back at previous episodes. Or increasingly with the TV coverage of sporting events – highlights of the day.

Boycott = To not attend something on principle.

Panties = knickers/women’s underwear

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