After the release of a study which indicates that most Oscar voters are wealthy white men, how smart a play does it seem to feature the host of the Academy Awards, Billy Crystal (a wealthy white man), in a sketch in which he appears in blackface? Well, it’s a play that the Oscars ran with on Sunday night, and it’s catching a bit of criticism (beneath the cacophony about who wore which designer brands, of course).
You see, Crystal trotted out his tired Sammy Davis Jr. impression from his Saturday Night Live days (and, yes, watching a comedian play out a 30 year old bit was both embarrassing and horrifying, and felt a lot like this) in a sketch in which Justin Bieber traveled back in time (a la Best Original Screenplay winner Midnight in Paris) and teamed up with Sammy Davis Jr. to kill Hitler.
It’s an idea that might have actually been funny had it not featured an obvious pop culture figure that is seemingly relevant to “the kids” (Bieber), teaming up with a cultural figure who died two decades ago and has nothing to do with anything beyond the fact that Crystal did an impression of him three decades ago and who also happened to only be a child in the 1920s (Davis Jr). Oh, and yeah, it was a white guy in blackface, which—gasp!—was found to be ever so slightly offensive by some, as The Baltimore Sun points out that several viewers rallied against the sketch on Twitter.
Oh, and to keep things even classier and more awkward, the sketch transitioned into a bit about The Help (a Jim Crow-era film), and featured Crystal eating feces. Classy!
What do you think of Crystal’s performance?