Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

What price fame?

Will Smith after receiving his Best Actor award. (Photo: Blaine Ohigashi / AMPAS)

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.

18 thoughts on “What price fame?

    1. He took well-deserved focus off EVERYONE else and made it the Will Smith Show. He should have been escorted out of the theater (forcibly if necessary) and, if the Academy still insisted on giving him his Oscar, they could have mailed it to him.

    1. I assume the standing O was for his performance in the movie, but it certainly could have been interpreted as approval or at least a whitewash of his boorish behavior. “That’s okay, Will. We all lose our tempers on occasion. You’re still a great guy and still one of us.”

  1. I didn’t watch it either. Oscar has lost his luster, along with all the others that seem to have sprung up like dandelions. Seems to me that award shows have become like school presentations where the audiences are made up of friendss and relatives rather than the general public. I agree about Smith.

    1. As I noted in a previous post, it seems almost incestuous. They all give each other awards and pats on the back and think they are wonderful. The public doesn’t have a say, and increasingly doesn’t want to watch, either. And the Academy can’t figure out why they are losing viewers. Tsk, tsk.

      1. I’m late to the party on this post but wanted to comment because I have a different take than many about Chris Rock’s joke. Everyone assumes it was this big insult to Jada, but I don’t see it. All he did was reference the GI Jane movie, in which Demi Moore shaved her head. But Demi Moore looked great with a shaved head, as does Jada. I saw no insult at all. The Smith family appears to believe that everyone in the world is aware of her diagnosis (I was not and see no reason why Chris Rock would have known).

        Also, you note that increasingly people don’t watch the awards. Well, that’s precisely why the Academy hires comedians to make jokes during the long event – to keep the home audience interested and watching. The home audience’s interest in the films is tweaked, which brings more viewers to the theaters (which enriches the actors). As Ricky Gervais has said, if a comedian can’t make jokes about the most privileged people in the world, then what can they joke about?

  2. Well, well, I just heard that Will Smith has resigned from the Academy. I wonder if he was told he could either resign or be kicked out? Or should he get credit for realizing how egregious his behavior was and resigning in shame?

    On second thought, it is April Fools’ Day …

  3. It’s encouraging that award shows’ audiences are dwindling. That incident was dreadful. Having worked many comic roles, Smith really should have known and done better that night. The crocodile tears looked to me like those of an ashamed 5 year old dealing with the consequences of a bad choice.

    1. I’m just grateful for a bit of relief from all the doomscrolling. Was so tired of hearing nothing but Ukraine and Covid, not to mention the neverending BS from Washington.

... and that's my two cents