Part 164- 94th Oscars: Will Smith & Chris Rock

On March 27th, the 94th Academy Awards, or Oscars, took place. That night, one very, unforgettable incident occurred. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. Now, Will Smith is a big actor, who would obviously not do something like this for no reason. And there was. Within this situation, I believe that both sides were wrong that night, and there could have been a better way to handle this. 

Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock 
{ Link to see entire scene}

Comedian Chris Rock had made a “G.I Jane 2” joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He said, “ Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2’ can’t wait to see it.” This was a comparison of her shaved head to Demi Moore’s buzzcut in the 1997 film. Mrs. Pinkett Smith didn’t smile or laugh at the joke, most likely because she has a condition called alopecia, which causes either temporary or permanent hair loss. Despite that she’s been very open about it, she has shared in the past her experiences with alopecia and how it’s affected her emotionally. She’s said that she cut her hair because of this condition. In her Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk”, Mrs. Pinkett Smith said, “My hair has been a big part of me. Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual-and having the choice to Janehair or not- and then one day be like, ‘Oh my god, I might not have that choice.’” She also said, “ I really had to put it in a spiritual perspective of like, the higher power takes so much from people. People are out here who have cancer. People have sick children. I watch the higher power take things every day, and by golly, if the higher power wants to take your hair? That’s it? God, you want my hair? When I looked at it from that perspective, it really did settle me.” Having such an important part of yourself gone must have hurt her a lot. I find it admirable how she took this into such a wider perspective and looked at her situation compared to much worse ones. Even though it would be almost devastating, she knew it would be the best decision to make, and took it upon herself to make it.

Knowing this, however, it was quite insensitive of Mr. Rock to make this joke. Regardless that he was trying to make a joke and make the night an enlightening experience, it wasn’t right to make a joke out of something that’s very personal or can be upsetting about someone. Mrs. Pinkett Smith might have just ignored it or looked annoyed, but she could have been deeply offended by this remark.

For this reason, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. Hearing that someone made such an insensitive comment about something that has strongly affected his wife, would have of course angered him. However, this is where he was also wrong. Usually, in the heat of the moment, we don’t think. This strong emotion overcomes us, and we’re not able to control how it affects our body, until we realize it later after it passes. In that moment, Mr. Smith was furious and acted as a husband, rather than a respected actor. He slapped Chris Rock, and yelled, “Leave my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth.”




In this situation, both of them were wrong. I’m not sure whether Chris Rock knew about Mrs. Pinkett Smith’s condition or not before making the joke, but even if he didn’t, I think he should have at least made some research or asked her beforehand if it was all right to talk about this. It was said to be unscripted, and was possibly added to enhance the mood. But, by doing so, it shows he was insensitive to this topic, and casually made a joke on it without realizing how much it could hurt someone. Will Smith also should have taken matters differently. I understand what it’s like when someone you love deeply is being, not exactly slandered, but hurt you want to stand up for them. You want to relieve that pain and correct it. That’s a very common response. However, violence shouldn’t have been the first response. Perhaps after this Mr. Smith could have talked to Mr. Rock about the gravity of his joke and asked him to apologize. Or maybe even made a response back. Any other response that wouldn’t result in violence would have been the better option. Although Mr. Smith later apologized in his acceptance speech, and later after than to Mr. Rock on social media, it wasn’t right in the first place. 

Mr. Smith d took accountability for his actions, and has expressed an apology to Mr. Rock, Mr. Rock’s family, everyone in attendance, global audiences at home, and the Academy. He has even announced his resignation from the Academy, and described his actions as “shocking, painful, and inexcusable.” Although this apology may not be able to relieve the embarrassment mr. Rock must have felt that night, it does show that Mr. Smith realizes that his actions were unacceptable, and is ready to accept whatever actions are taken against it.

So, in conclusion, both Mr. Rock and Mr. Smith was wrong in this situation. I would mainly say Mr. Rock was wrong, since he was the one who decided to make a joke about a topic that is very sensitive. He had an option to say it or not, and yet he did. Mr. Smith’s reaction was hsi triggered response to that. Most likely, if Mr. Rock never mentioned that joke, could things have gone better? Most likely. But, even so, Mr. Smith’s response to this was also, equally as wrong. Violence should never be the first response to anything. If I were in his place, I might have called him out then and there, or maybe just pulled him aside later. Maybe even make a remark back at his joke during the Best Actor Award Speech. Mr. Rock needs to know that it wasn’t right, and so I would have made him realize that before it was too late. 


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