Will Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face on stage at the Oscars, over an inappropriate joke Chris made about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith.
No one remembers who won in any of the categories at last night’s Academy Awards. All anyone is talking about is Will Smith slapping Chris Rock live on stage. Whether you think the slap is warranted, or you think the whole thing is staged for rating, you can’t deny this will go down as an iconic Oscars moment. The incident instantly became a meme and people who didn’t even watch the ceremony knew about it within minutes. How all of this will affect Will’s popularity is yet to be seen, but it seems like he’s already lost a few fans. I sense an apology tour, and a lot of uncomfortable interviews, coming our way.
What set him off?
Will is known by all his fans as a lovable goofball, who also happens to be a really great actor. The possibility of him punching someone never crossed any of our minds. What got him to that point was an inappropriate joke Chris made about Jada. The joke in question revolved around Jada potentially starring in a sequel to the movie G.I. Jane. The movie starred Demi Moore and followed her character’s journey as a female joining the Navy. At one point in the movie, Demi shaves her head. Essentially, the joke poked fun at the fact that Jada has a shaved head.
While some fans are left scratching their heads as to why this was so offensive, others are pointing out it’s because Jada was forced to shave her head. Jada has been very open about her ongoing struggles with alopecia, an autoimmune disease which targets your hair follicles. As clumps of her hair began falling out, leaving her with bald patches, Jada decided to shave off her remaining hair rather than watch it all fall off. The difference between her and Demi Moore’s character in the film is that, while Demi chose to shave her head Jada was essentially forced to. Hair is an important part of a woman’s identity and it was probably upsetting for Jada to have to shave it off.
Did he take it too far?
The internet is completely split on whether or not Will Smith did the right thing. Some commend him for defending his wife, while others condemn him for resorting to violence. I think he was definitely in the wrong for hitting him. Putting myself in Chris Rock’s shoes, I can’t imagine how embarrassing that must have been for him. Being on the Oscars stage is already so nerve wrecking, without the added element of a fist fight. If he wanted to protect his wife, I thought he could have just cussed at him like he did after the slap, or just address it in after the ceremony. No one is focusing on the insulting joke now, they’re just focusing on Will’s overreaction. He made himself the bad guy.
Did he apologize?
Will kind of apologized for his actions, but some fans are not happy with it. In probably one of the craziest moments in Oscar history, Will won best actor in a leading role, maybe 15 minutes after assaulting someone. In his speech, he ironically preached the importance of love. He even said he hopes to be a vessel for love. He then proceeded to claim his actions earlier that night were done out of love, and that love can make someone do crazy things. That statement in and of itself got more criticism than the actual slap. Social media criticized that statement, claiming it aligns with the sentiment abusive spouses give when abusing their significant others. Justifying violence by saying it came from love sends the wrong message.
People also took issue with the fact that Will never apologized to Chris Rock himself. During his acceptance speech, he apologized to both The Academy and his fellow nominees, but failed to mention Chris. Shortly after the ceremony ended, it was revealed on Twitter that Will’s publicist spoke to him during a commercial break. Many suspect his publicist advised him to make it good with Academy members so he will be invited back to the ceremony in the future. They don’t believe he is actually remorseful since he was also spotted dancing happily at the after parties. Personally, I think he needs to publicly apologize to Chris and take some ownership. He is supposed to appear on Jada’s Red Table Talk, so hopefully we get a full explanation then.
Was it set up?
While some viewers wanted Will arrested, others think this whole thing was set up. Some seem to think Chris looked like he was ready to take on the slap. They point at the fact that ratings for the show have been on a steady decline, and something needed to be done to get people watching again. I know at least for me, people in my family who usually couldn’t care less were talking to me about the Oscars for the first time. The fact that he wasn’t immediately escorted out, and that Chris Rock isn’t pressing charges also hints at it being a set up. I personally don’t think it was set up. In my opinion, you can’t fake the pure look of shock on Chris’ face. Will Smith also looked genuinely angry when he was cussing him out.
I think it was a heat of the moment type thing, and the reason he wasn’t escorted out was because they knew he was about to win in the next segment. I also think him and Chris made up behind the scenes, which is why charges aren’t filed. Even if they didn’t make up, I don’t think charges would have been filed. If they did make up behind the scenes, I think Will still needs to apologize publicly since he did embarrass the man in front of millions. I’m surprised Chris even kept going. I definitely would have run off the stage and hid for the rest of my life.
I understand Will Smith was protecting his wife and her feelings, but did he go to far? Let me know what you think in the comments!