The Slap That Slaps Back



US actor Will Smith accepts the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for “King Richard” onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Josalin Sutton, General, Opinions

The 2022 Oscar Awards ceremony was one that will forever go down in history. At the 94th annual ceremony, Chris Rock took the stage to present the award for best documentary feature. As the retired comedian spoke, he made a derogatory comment about Jada Smith, saying, “Jada, I love you – I can’t wait for GI Jane 2” To which the actress rolled her eyes. This comment was made in-lieu of the buzz-cut that she was due to her recent diagnosis of Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes rapid hair loss. Will Smith, her husband, initially laughed at the remark, but upon seeing the look on his wife’s face, took action. Smith marched on stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face. This action shocked everyone including Rock. Chris Rock made no moves other than his baffled laugh saying, “Wow, Will Smith just smacked me”, to which Will Smith yelled back from his seat for Rock to “keep (his) wife’s name” out of his mouth. 


Will Smith’s Repercussions 

This event has caused a great backlash for Will Smith as these actions took place shortly before he was announced the winner of this year’s best actor award. Smith went on stage and apologized to the academy and audience for his action but never to Chris Rock. Millions were shocked at this behavior and demanded repercussions, which were soon given. After Smith officially stepped down from the academy, still in possession of his Oscar, the academy awards acted, banning him from the Oscars for the next ten years. Will Smith’s show of violence was out of hand and hurt more than Chris Rock’s face. Smith did eventually apologize to Rock, saying, 


“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness. I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richerd Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.” 


He then signed it, saying, “I am a work in progress” Just as he says in his apology, violence should never be condoned. That was the main shock for all viewers, the utter anger and violence that caused him to act in such a way. Some argued that he should not be allowed to keep his Oscar or be allowed to get anymore in the future. But it was settled that he would be banned for ten years. 


The Bigger picture 

Everyone can sympathize and understand why Chris Rocks’ joke so hurt Will Smith, but it cannot and will not ever condone what he did. Chris Rock is a comedian, he made his living with jokes and humor so this comment came out naturally to him, not as a slanderous remark against Jada. The question cannot be asked if what Rock said was hurtful “enough” or “unnecessary” because when someone loses control and physically invades someone else’s rights, it doesn’t matter what was said. It is also unsure if Rock knew why Jada was losing her hair, or was aware of the hurt this would’ve taken on her. This action spoke to so much more than this isolated incident. It reawakened hurts and problems that people experience in their personal lives. If we let things like this go without understanding and discussing why they are wrong, then we will have much bigger problems in the future. Smith understood this as we can see in his apology. He said that it was not a show of the man he wants to be and that there is no place for violence in this world of love and kindness. But if this violence is happening all around us every day, is it a world of “love and kindness?” This is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed and acknowledged. Violence should never be condoned, not on a stage in front of millions, not in your workplace, not even in your own house.