Sunday, March 27, 2022 was a night to forget rather than celebrate because he chose violence at the 94th Academy Awards. Who is ‘he’, the esteemed actor Will Smith, who was nominated for Best Male Lead Actor of the Year for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the critically acclaimed film KING RICHARD. On a night that was supposed to showcase the First Black American Oscars’ Producers Will Packer and Shayla Cowan, the Oscars were marred by their first ever acts of violence.
What thought comes to mind after reading the opening paragraph; clearly something heinous had to have happened for Will Smith to choose violence?
Sadly the answer is - nothing heinous.
Will Smith seated up front at the base of the stage, accompanied by his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith to his right, seemingly enjoying the Oscars on a night he was the clear favorite to win his first golden statuette for best actor; queue in Comedian Chris Rock telling a very mild joke directed at Jada Pinkett-Smith —-and we have the embarrassment of the century, witnessed by an international audience on the biggest Hollywood platform. The Academy is gutted, and is now in the precarious position of ‘what do we do’?
The quick assessment is that Chris Rock’s joke warranted, maybe even elicited, a fellow entertainer walking up the stage aggressively towards him and slapping him on live television, pirouetting and buttoning his blazer as if he just did the most gangster of actions while returning to his seat to dole out two f-bomb threats. Those that are defending Will Smith would hope you would give him grace based on the surface level of the assault. I am going to roll with - NO. Matter of fact, no way in hell should Will Smith have resorted to violence when himself nor his wife nor his family are NOT in any imminent danger.
Chris Rock said “Love you Jada, can’t wait to see you in G.I. Jane 2”, this is a mild joke directed at the bald hairstyle Jada is currently rocking. And due to spin doctoring, we now know that her choice to shave her head bald is due to alopecia. Okay, so just because Jada has a condition that many women (and a heck of a lot more men) have is some sort of protection from being joked about? I mean, this cannot be the case when you discover that three-days prior to the 94th Academy Awards, Jada via social media made a declaration of loving her bald head and not giving a damn what anybody says about it. Welp to the false chivalry of Will Smith supposedly coming to his wife’s defense.
But I do have a question in regards to the ‘G.I. Jane 2” joke being disrespectful, is this really an insult?
The answer is - NO.
G.I. JANE (1997) is a fictional film depicting the first woman to successfully complete U.S. Navy SEALs training. In the movie there’s an emotional stirring scene where Demi Moore’s character was forced to shave her head bald, which is a requirement of each SEAL candidate. But here’s the kicker, Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil (Demi Moore) is the heroine of the feature film. So, if being compared to a heroine is an insult or disrespectful, somewhere out here we have truly gone mad.
Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett-Smith are no strangers, they both were voice actors for the animated movie trilogy MADAGASCAR (2005 Madagascar, 2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, 2012 Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted). I can surmise that Chris Rock made a very gentle joke about Jada due to their work history, because Mrs. Smith over the past three-years has publicly made a circus out of her family’s private life. With the amount of ammunition at the disposal of one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all-time, being teased for having a chrome dome is as easy as it gets.
Will Smith is beyond shameful, but I want to shine a very big light (maybe a deeper dark hole) on the fact Big Willie Style picked to bully and assault a smaller statured man. With all things being equal, would Will Smith have assaulted Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson? Denzel Washington? Tyler Perry? Terrence J? Will Packer? Questlove?
In short, we all know the answer is ‘NO’. I mean as an aggressor you have to pick your targets right, or you run the risk of getting beat down. But if Chris Rock deserved to be slapped for a mild joke about bald heads, what does Regina Hall deserve for making a joke about Will and Jada’s speculated open marriage? Oh, that’s deep, eh! Because no way would Will step up to slap a black woman, but he felt compelled to do so to a smaller physically statured black man. This can not be okay.
The Academy is on the clock, a precedence has to be set, because lack of disciplinary action would be damning. The reputation of Hollywood is hanging in the balance, especially as ratings are going down (with the 2022 Oscars having the 2nd worst ratings of all-time). The unfortunate position Will Smith has put The Academy in, has really put us all in an uncompromising position of accepting violence. Something harsh has to come of this debacle, anything weak would continue a degradation of what it means to be humane —- violence can not be normalized.