No, I didn’t watch the Academy Awards Sunday night. Yes, I heard about the Will Smith debacle. Who in the world hasn’t? I was hugely disappointed. I’ve always really liked Will Smith. But that “like” was based, I suppose, mostly on what I saw of him on the screen. Now I’ve had a good look at the off-screen Will Smith and I don’t like it one bit. You don’t strike someone else. Ever. No matter that it was a slap, not a punch. Lousy self-control. Rotten manners. Foul mouth. I don’t care who you are — Best Actor, aggrieved husband, the Pope himself — you don’t do this. And you don’t compound it by waiting a day to apologize to the man you struck, even though you apologized to everyone else within the hour.
Was Chris Rock out of line when he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head? Probably. At the very least the joke was in poor taste. After all, this was a formal awards show, not a roast. But he is a comedian and he has made similar jokes before. It certainly didn’t justify the kind of reaction he got from Smith — especially since Smith was seen laughing at the joke before he walked up to the stage. And Jada appeared to be laughing as her husband returned to his seat. Strange.
One might be excused for wondering if somehow the whole scene was a set-up to get more publicity for the Academy Awards show, which has been hemorrhaging viewers in recent years.
If an Oscar has never been taken away from anyone, not even Harvey Weinstein, then maybe it won’t be taken from Will Smith. After all, it was based on his performance before the Awards, not at the Awards. But if he gets suspended or banished from the Academy, I won’t shed any tears. He’s had his time in the sun. He’s certainly more well-known now than he was a week ago. I hope his little gold statue keeps him warm at night and in the years to come.
Banner image: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock. Photo from the original telecast.