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While the Oscars are familiar with being criticized for being racially biased, this year has been exceptionally controversial with racial tensions building around the country (police altercations, election rhetoric), as well as what many claim to be exceptional black-themed movies and performances by African-American actors overlooked by the nomination process.

And while everyone was expecting a little bit of awkwardness to the night, Chris Rock took it to a new level, not holding back any punches.

Exploding the subject wide open with his opening monologue, he took the elephant in the room head on, commenting throughout the night with his “zingers” while introducing guests, even making fun of the situation with several pre-planned cinematic skits.

Social Media Makes Its Opinion Known (As Usual)

How did the rest of the world feel about it and the Oscars brand? Anecdotally, many felt the Oscars deserved brutal treatment from Chris Rock and even felt a sense of justice as the crowd squirmed through awkward joke after awkward laugh/reaction. Others felt his participation itself simply fed the controversy and legitimized the event.

We looked at social sentiment on Twitter using ForSight, an award-winning social listening (social analytics) platform from our friends and partners at Crimson Hexagon, to see just what everyone really thought of the night.

We configured a ForSight monitor as follows.

Monitor configured in ForSight to capture the conversations about the Oscar controversy.

Oscars monitor


What’s funny is while a lot happened the night of, most of the talk seemed to have happened the day after the Oscars.

Oscar-related tweets spiked the Monday following the awards presentation Sunday evening.


No surprise, most mentions was @ChrisRock.

Drilling down into individual tweets, we note specifics of the conversations.

Individual tweet based on a Chris Rock quote.

individual post


Hashtags report shows that more than 12,000 tweets during the selected time period contained the #oscarssowhite hashtag.


Topic Wheel

The Topic Wheel highlights the themes that characterized the conversations.



We can see that the number of authors tweeting about the Oscars jumped sharply as the event approached, but the number of tweets per author remained relatively steady. This indicates a distributed, democratized conversation rather than domination by a smaller number of authors.

The number of authors jumped as the Oscars approached, but the proportion of posts per author remained relatively steady.



For tweeters who allow their tweets to be geotracked, we can access the Geography report in ForSights. Below, we’ve zoomed in on Manhattan.

Oscar-related tweets in NYC.

New York City

A specific tweet from NYC related directly to the controversy.
Manhattan tweet


So where does this lead us? If we access the proportion-based view of the Sentiment Analysis report, we see clearly that positive sentiment around the Oscars grew through the day of the awards presentation and then retreated the following day as negative sentiment climbed.

Autosentiment Analysis report.

Sentiment Analysis

In upcoming posts, we’ll take our sentiment analysis further by training ForSight through opinion categories and examining the Opinion Monitor where we can support more complex hypotheses that go beyond the default positive/negative breakdown and allow us to assess deeper trends and impacts.