Will Smith reacts to light punishment; Chris Rock’s vocal brother furious that he gets to keep award

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Members of the public, probably including Kenny Rock, are furious over reports that actor Will Smith’s punishment for slapping fellow actor Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars is a 10-year ban from the Academy Awards.

Some critics say he deserved a far “harsher” punishment. The overwhelming majority, however, argue that he deserved far less.

Word of the ban came after the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences met early Friday morning to discuss the matter.

In a public statement published afterward, the board announced that “Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards” for 10 years, beginning Friday.

“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage,” the board wrote.

“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”

The first group of critics has railed against the punishment for being too light, arguing that Smith deserved to be charged with assault or, at the very least, stripped of his Oscar. Though just to be clear, an assault charge would have to come from the police, not the Academy Awards.

Somewhat included among these critics is Kenny Rock, who told the Los Angeles Times earlier this week — prior to the punishment being announced — that he can barely stomach watching the viral clip of his brother being slapped.

“It eats at me watching it over and over again because you’ve seen a loved one being attacked and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he told the Times.

“Every time I’m watching the videos, it’s like a rendition that just keeps going over and over in my head. My brother was no threat to him and you just had no respect for him at that moment. You just belittled him in front of millions of people that watch the show.”

He added that he wanted the board to strip Smith of his award.

See the public’s reaction below:

The second group of critics has argued that there’s a contrast between the punishment received by Smith over a slap and the non-punishment received by the likes of Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, and other men who’ve committed far more heinous crimes.

Undergirding this complaint is the belief that Smith is being targeted more harshly because of the color of his skin.

Though just to be clear, Weinstein’s currently in prison, and Polanski fled to Poland years ago while awaiting sentencing for having had sex with a minor.

Look (*Language warning):

But on the other hand, the Oscars continued to reward Polanski long after he’d fled.

Including in 2011:

Smith has, for his part, accepted his “sentence.”

“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” he said in a pithy statement following the board’s decision.


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Vivek Saxena


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