The Oscars in 2016 were plagued by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite when they failed to recognise work from artists of colour. This year they turned it around by having the most diverse list of nominees since the award show’s conception in 1929, and last night black stars won their categories in record numbers.
Hurrah, racism is over in Hollywood! Except, obviously, it isn’t.
First-time host Jimmy Kimmel, who is usually found presenting chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, made a point about the changes being made. He started the show with the obligatory monologue where he brought up last year’s race issues and thanked Donald Trump:
"I want to say, 'Thank you, President Trump’. I mean, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?"
And later added:
But when Mahershala Ali kicked off the night by winning Best Supporting Actor (and became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar), Kimmel unintentionally revealed via joke the subtle racism that people of colour face even when they have achieved the highest professional accolades amongst their peers.
Ali’s acceptance speech saw him humbly (and ridiculously smoothly) thank those who worked on Moonlight with him, and his wife who had just given birth to a daughter a few days before:
As he returned to his seat, proud and teary-eyed having reached the peak of his career so far, Kimmel joked that it must have been difficult to choose a moniker for his daughter since his name is Mahershala.
“You can’t name her Amy,” he lol’d. Because your name is so weird, right? Get it?
Needless to say, it didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter:
You receive the greatest honor of your career and immediately after a white man reminds you that you are different. What fuckery.— roxane gay (@rgay) February 27, 2017
Kimmel appears to have a pronunciation problem when it comes to any name that isn’t two syllables.
During a skit in which passengers on an open-top bus tour of Hollywood were 'unexpectedly' ushered into the Oscars venue and introduced to celebrities, he asked an Asian woman who told him her name was "Yulerie" - at which he looked confused and asked her to repeat it.
He then asked another of the tourists his name, at which he said: "Patrick - now that's a name."
The worst bit about it is (brace, this may surprise you), the joke isn’t even original. And Kimmel has used it before on Ali.
Last night, Ali reacted in a similar way as he did on Kimmel’s show – like he’s being forced to sit at his friend’s family dinner table and smile and nod at their dad’s jokes even though they’re shit with racial undertones, but you have manners and they gave you dinner so…
At one point during the show, Kimmel inexplicably asked the audience to say Mahershala's name in unison.
Take note of all the facial expressions around him which range from “Oh, Goddddd...ffs” to “Did you really?”.