Janelle Monae opened the Oscars and performed an opening number either called “Come Alive” or “Oscars So White.” Janelle mentioned the fact that the main acting categories were made up of mostly white people by letting out, “It’s time to come alive… because the Oscars is so white!”
Janelle started off with the Mister Rogers masterpiece It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood before transitioning into a song and dance orgy featuring a chorus of dancers representing the movies that came out in 2019. Janelle brought up #OscarsSoWhite, and then name-checked Dolemite Is My Name, as well as referencing Us. Janelle dragged the Academy several times, also saying during the number:
“Tonight, we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room. We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films… I’m so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist, telling stories.”
She also brought out human sequins Billy Porter to sing along with her.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 10, 2020
Chris Rock was the first presenter joined by Steve Martin, and he continued laying into the Oscars by joking:
“Cynthia did such a great job in Harriet hiding black people that the academy got her to hide all the black nominees. Cynthia, is Eddie Murphy under this stage?”
Steve Martin kept the punches coming because he wants an invite to the cookout, and he joked:
“Chris, think how much the Oscars have changed in the past 92 years. In 1929, there was no black acting nominees. Now, in 2020, we got one.”
Apparently this year there were efforts to increase diversity. Idina Menzel‘s performance of Into The Unknown from Frozen 2 included actresses from around the world who have performed as Elsa.
And actor, Utkarsh Ambudkar, who was in Pitch Perfect, performed a quick rap along to music by Questlove. He recapped the show and rapped this:
“I’m here to recap the show and MC for a bunch of nominees that don’t look like me.”
“Keep an open mind, I’m sure we’ll find there’s plenty of light here for us all to shine”- Utkarsh Ambudkar
— Austin Kim (@AustinKKim) February 10, 2020
I did get that Janelle was calling out the Oscars in their own home, but her spitting at the lack of diversity did get a little lost in her opening number. I mean, while looking at Janelle in Midsommar drag, dancing among a chorus that included a Nazi, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t having an acid flashback. I think.