Chris Rock: Selective Outrage review: Comedian’s slapback is weak & whiny

In his latest special Selective Outrage, veteran American standup comic, Chris Rock comments on topics ranging from wokeness to the Kardashian family, as well as the Will Smith fiasco at last year’s Oscars awards.


Walking on to the stage to premature standing ovations and thunderous applause, Chris Rock beings his special with jokes about wokeness, talking about his contentions with ‘selective outrage’, harping on the hypocritical nature of said outrage, which sounds a great deal like the whataboutery that populates the discourse whenever some figure/institution’s filth is scrutinized publically.

One way that Rock exemplifies this hypocrisy is by pointing out all the wokeness that gets published via phones made by child slaves, unironically suggesting one should not be able to criticize society as long as they participate in it.

This is all the more aggravating since Rock’s many rich guy problems are not shared by most of society.

From there, the comedian goes on to talk about Elon Musk and his popularity with women; Meghan Markle, and her insufficient homework on the royal family; the Kardashians, and their dating history; trans rights, among other things.

He finally wraps up the special by addressing the Will Smith slap controversy that transpired at the Oscars last year, in a manner that’s the meanest and most contradictory to the claims Chris Rock keeps making.


There’s an undeniable energy that the comedian brings with him, which is what almost everyone clicking on the standup would come to expect from one of American comedy’s heaviest hitters.

In a routine mostly filled with the lazily repackaged talking points of the right-wing and conservatives, Chris Rock does manage to call bs on some of the self-victimization of the privileged and the powerful that’s become overtly common online over the past few years.


Selective Outrage is filled with some of the most familiar setups and jokes that make their rounds on the internet, not just in the standup special clips of comedy’s biggest names, but also in the millions of tweets, images, and videos published every day.

Wokeness as some sort of doom that threatens civilizational collapse must be stopped from being the go-to for any standup comic, much less someone who has been widely celebrated as one of the artform’s greatest.

All the tired jokes end up making Rock’s frenetic energy on stage feel grating on the nerves, made even worse by the several instances where the comedian just repeats sentences a couple of times.

The aforementioned pattern repeats itself for most Selective Outrage, coming in cycles as a setup builds and builds, only to deliver a punchline that feels borrowed from the meme arsenal of a chronically online anti-woke boomer.

There are no meaningful ways that Rock contends with the issues he addresses, whether it be transgender acceptance or abortions.

In fact, when you take the supposedly edgy and actually really tired explicit bit about abortions, Rock’s jokes do more to strengthen the right-wing championing of his special than make an incisive comment on the harrowing reality of the abortion ban.

Then comes the Will Smith controversy, the bit that all eyes flocked to see the special for. During the last 10 minutes of the special, Chris Rock goes after the rapper-turned-actor he used to admire so much and root for.

However, more so than Will Smith, the target for Rock’s distasteful jabs inexplicably (but expectedly) seems to be Jada Pinkett Smith.

A victim of not just a man who took it upon himself to retaliate on his wife’s behalf by resorting to violence in the public, but also a comedian who has had a weird history of attacking her for decades, Pinkett Smith remains the person treated most unfairly in this entirely embarrassing beef of two supposedly grown men.

In an expected irony attached to the special, the right-wing co-opting of Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage seems to undo all that the comedian’s mother taught him, for if not with physical blows and slaps, Chris Rock is very much interested in fighting a long-winded, lucrative, and painfully unfunny fight “in front of white people.”


Chris Rock: Selective Outrage is an hour-long exercise in the trite, as the comedian vents his frustrations and anger through most uninspired material, followed by an addressal rife with a most derisive rant that lacks the wits, maturity, or the panache one would expect from a comedian of such stature.

Chris Rock: Selective Outrage
Chris Rock: Selective Outrage review: Comedian's slapback is weak & whiny 1

Director: Joel Gallen

Date Created: 2023-03-04 12:30

Editor's Rating:

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