Chris Rock’s ‘Selective Outrage’ rocks and tips the boat


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Chris Rock performing on stage at the Orpheum Theatre in 2017. When Chris Rock took the stage for his most recent special, “Selective Outrage,” he turned to punching down and stoking the flames of drama rather than actually telling jokes.

By Daniel Massa, Lifestyle Writer

Chris Rock’s new comedy special “Selective Outrage” gives followers of the comedian’s stand off with Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars the bombastic side of his story at the cost of shallow jokes. 

Netflix recently released a new comedy special for Chris Rock that was touted as the “first live-streaming event” for the streaming service. The special is based mostly on new material, as Rock tackles topics such as woke culture, the royal family and even the Kardashians. 

He went on about the bodily fluids that expel from Elon Musk, clearly showing that Rock still only knows how to mock and punch down for laughs. 

Of course, the big thing everyone was waiting for Rock to joke about was the infamous Oscars slap he received at the hands of (no pun intended) Will Smith. The special isn’t called “Selective Outrage” for nothing; in fact, the title is the very thing Rock accuses Smith of suffering from in the special.

The last 10 minutes of the special focus primarily on Rock not just joking about, but also seemingly ranting about Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock went for every blow he could on Smith, such as his open marriage with Jada. 

“We’ve all been cheated on. Everybody in here’s been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person who cheated on us on television,” Rock exclaimed in his special. Quite hypocritical, however, as Rock has cheated on a partner before and has even publicly joked about it many times. 

He’s so deeply invested in the comedic rant that he even flubs a joke about how Smith’s 2016 film “Concussion” didn’t get him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor and the attempted boycott that followed. Rock messed up and referred to Smith’s recent film “Emancipation” instead.

Unfortunately, any chances to see it are slim to none as the flub has since been edited out of the post-live-streamed event. 

Many folks voiced their praise and annoyance at the rant. Some praise Rock for getting the heat of the Oscars slap off his chest while also taking a few jabs at Smith. However, others are annoyed that after a year, Rock is still hurt over the incident and say that he needs to get over it. Even Smith has spoken out about Rock’s rant telling him to get over it. 

But the questions remain: how easy is it really to “just get over it?” In fact, whose fault was it for the Oscars incident anyway? Was it Rock? Was it Smith? Was it Jada? Was it possibly even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? 

The answer is quite simple: All of the above and even more.

Chris Rock has some history with the Smiths. As previously stated, Jada reached out to Chris in 2016 to turn down hosting that year’s Oscars. 

Her reason for the request was that her husband Will wasn’t nominated for Best Actor for his performance in the film “Concussion.” She also asked Rock to boycott the Academy for refusing to nominate more Black artists working in the industry at that time. 

Rock refused to boycott and still hosted the show for that year, even joking about the Smiths boycotting. In fact, Rock was the last real host for the Oscars before the Academy started using multiple celebrities to carry along the award show.

Then of course, in 2022, Rock made the infamous “G.I. Jane” joke about Jada, the same joke that Will laughed at. Several seconds later, Will strutted up on stage in a completely opposite mood and slapped Chris for the joke. 

Like the rant in “Selective Outrage,” this had many folks on social media picking sides. This also led to the slap clip being reposted and memes being crafted to death, something Rock mentioned in his rant. 

After looking at the time between the slap and the anger-fueled rant Rock let out during his comedy special, one solution comes to mind. It’s not just Rock who needs to get over it, nor is it Will and Jada – it’s us who need to get over it. 

As individuals who spend much of their day-to-day lives on some form of media, people love drama. Big media outlets know this too, because drama gets them clicks, views, reposts and followers. 

Just look at how many people have been keeping up with the Kardashians (pun intended that time). Take a look at how many people have been deep in the feud going on in the royal family, specifically regarding Meghan and Harry. 

Media outlets are willing to provide drama, real or fake, and people will always come back like stray cats looking for food.

For over a year, people have been wanting to hear Chris Rock’s side of the story. When Will Smith issued both a private and public apology to him saying he was ready to talk, people were ready to hear more from him. 

While Rock did talk here and there about it, people still egged him on to talk about the slap and Will Smith. In fact, the comedy special felt like nothing more than a way for Rock to finally get it all out.

Netflix went hard to advertise the special by saying it was the first live-streamed event. This begs the question: Would that be the case if Rock wasn’t going to bring up the slap? Would Netflix even market it as much as they did if he didn’t talk about the slap?

When Chris was finished with his rant, I’m surprised he didn’t just up and scream,“There! I talked about it! Are you all happy now?!”

A lot of this is most definitely the reason why the whole special felt incohesive. It was just a barrage of making fun of people and things that get a rise out of people. 

In fact, a lot of Rock’s material in this special felt like he was just firing every joke he knows all at once in hopes that people will bust their guts laughing at one. I felt this caused the jokes to lack substance and overall time for the audience to fully digest them.

In turn, Rock’s “Selective Outrage” is proof that the only way for him to get over the infamous Oscars slap is for us to get over it too. 

It’s quite a shame, as this special could’ve been really funny if Rock, and by extension, Netflix, didn’t bank on the conflict with Will Smith for the special to be a huge success. However, all this special really did was show how comedy nowadays can turn into drama and dread.