There was plenty of drama Sunday night at the Acadamy Awards show, but none of it centered on who was winning an Oscar. In what has to be the most surreal moment in the history of live awards shows, megastar Will Smith smacked comedian Chris Rock in the face for joking about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith,
“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” Rock quipped in an apparent reference to her close-cropped hair — Jada has struggled with hair loss as a result of an alopecia diagnosis.
After walking up to the comedian and assaulting him, Smith returned to his seat and screamed twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth!”
Not only was Rock the consummate professional, not forgetting that he was an Oscars presenter and the camera was rolling on a live broadcast before millions, in addition to pressing on with the task at hand, the comedian proved to be the bigger man in deciding not to press charges against Smith, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
As much as the violent act itself stunned people, there was just as much interest in the reactions of others. There were also Democratic lawmakers who felt compelled to go to bat for Smith.
On the other hand, there were celebrities willing to criticize Smith, despite him being a highly popular actor — the room gave him a standing ovation minutes after his display of violence when he won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, in which he portrayed Venus and Serena Williams’ father.
Comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted: “Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”
Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian.
Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) March 28, 2022
Knocked Up director Judd Apatow was also critical of Smith’s actions, and would be denigrated for a stance that may have been a little over the top.
“He could have killed him,” he tweeted. “That’s pure out of control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.”
— Bipolar Andrew (@BipolarAndrew) March 28, 2022
Maria Shriver, who was married to former Governor of California and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, tweeted: “[Will Smith] says he wants to be a vessel for love. Love is not violent. Love is not what was displayed on a global stage tonight,” before adding, “We should never get to a place where we sit and watch a movie star hit someone on global television then, moments later, get a standing ovation while talking about love.”
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) March 28, 2022
Hell, even 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones was astonished by Smith’s violence: “I’m tripping that you can assault someone on live television on stage at the Oscars and just take your seat and watch the rest of the show.”
Not only did Smith watch the rest of the show, in addition to receiving an award, the actor was seen partying later at a Variety-sponsored Oscars bash.
I’m tripping that you can assault someone on live television on stage at the Oscars and just take your seat and watch the rest of the show.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) March 28, 2022
Still, Smith is a powerful figure in Hollywood and there was plenty of hemming and hawing from fellow celebrities, who would ramble on about “passion” and “powerful moments” … anything but calling a spade a spade.
Colman Domingo reacts to the moment Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the #Oscars: “I thought, he’s from West Philly, just like I’m from West Philly. We’re very passionate people.” https://t.co/ulvT7fb0dz pic.twitter.com/xiVK3hfQyk
— Variety (@Variety) March 28, 2022
— Variety (@Variety) March 28, 2022
‘I believe whatever he felt that he did, he had the right to do.’
‘I had to leave my chair I’ll be honest with you, it cut me really deep.’@LiamPayne reacts to the dramatic moment Will Smith hit comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars for making a joke about his wife. pic.twitter.com/OGT4bA8jDi
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 28, 2022
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