by Danny McCarthy, Staff Writer
In a Vulture article published Sunday about Chris Rock’s new film “Top Five,” where he acts as director, screenwriter and star, Rock had a lot to say about comedy and the intergenerational gap between himself and his children.
Rock started out the interview with a discussion of comedy, relating specifically to his Nov. 1 “Saturday Night Live” opening monologue. Rock made jokes about the Boston Marathon and the One World Trade Center building — commonly called the Freedom Tower. Rock’s jokes were not entirely well received, with some finding offense.
Rock, however, responded to the criticism saying, “You don’t want to piss off the people that are paying you, obviously, but otherwise I’ve just been really good at ignoring [criticism].” He went on to say that comedy is the only medium that requires a “demo” to be released to the public. In comedy, it is through trial-and-error that comedians learn which jokes float and which sink. With the advent of social media and live television, comedians are not always afforded the privilege of trying out material.
“Before, everyone had a recording device and was wired like [expletive] Sammy the Bull,” Rock said. “You’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, ‘Oh, I went too far,’ and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched.”
Rock also articulated the different world his daughters are growing up in.
“My kids grew up not only with a black president but with a black secretary of state, a black joint chief of staff, a black attorney general. My children are going to be the first black children in the history of America to actually have the benefit of the doubt of just being moral, intelligent people,” Rock said. “As far as they’re concerned, there have always been little black girls in the White House.”
But focusing on that also detracts from the real issue, Rock said. “We treat racism in this country like it’s a style that America went through. Like flared legs and lava lamps … We treat it like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people.”
What I appreciated most about this interview was his candor. Most people would say something along the lines of, “Racism is here, but look at how far we’ve come!” Rock rejects that approach and stays real.
Racism is not a time period that America went through in the 1800s. It is an issue that has permeated into every aspect of our culture and our lives. Rock typified internalized racism when he said, “To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There have been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years.”
However, Rock was not entirely pessimistic about America’s chance in eradicating racism. The advantage of growing up in this age, Rock said, is that “my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”