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Pressure mounts on Chris Rock to quit as Oscars host

Los Angeles: Amid the ongoing diversity row at this year's Oscars, some artistes have called upon host Chris Rock to bow out of the ceremony. R&B singer-songwriter Tyrese Gibson and rapper 50 Cent have urged Rock to step down.

Chris Rock
Chris Rock

"There is no joke that he can crack. There is no way for him to seize the moment and come into this thing and say, 'I'm going to say this and say that I'm going to address the issue but then I'm still going to keep my gig as the host.' The statement that you make is that you step down," Gibson told People magazine. 50 Cent took to Instagram to write, "Chris please do not do the Oscars awards. You mean a lot man, don't do it. Please."

However, there are voices within the community which feel that Rock should stick to hosting the February 28 gig and use the stage to talk about the lack of inclusion in the awards nominations for a second consecutive year. Filmmaker Spike Lee, who was one of the earliest voices to criticise the Academy body, wrote on Instagram that he and his wife Tonya Lewis Lee "cannot support it (Oscars)" and will skip the event.

Lee further said, "The host is black (Chris Rock) and now black actors and others are shaming him for taking the job? He earned it." Jada Pinkett Smith, also boycotting the ceremony, sent her good wishes to Rock for the mega event.

"Hey, Chris. I will not be at the Academy Awards and I won't be watching but I can't think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend," the Gotham actress said. "Good luck." Rock is yet to respond on the matter though he did comment on the diversity issue tweeting last week, "The #Oscars. The
White BET Awards."

The Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has acknowledged the problem in a rare and lengthy statement saying swift reforms were needed to change the status quo. "While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes."

The Academy has been accused of failing to nomination black talents in its four acting categories for the second year in a row. The case is similar in the directing category, prompting sharp criticism from Hollywood stars like George Clooney, Lupita Nyong'o, Smith, Lee and David Oyelowo.

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