The big news story today is not the war between Ukraine and Russia or Ginni Thomas or the Final Four teams decided for the NCAA Championship. It was a physical altercation between actor Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars. I did not watch the show but I have seen the slap administered by Smith to Rock a few dozen times on social and broadcast media. I have also heard Smith’s profane threats to Rock to keep his wife name out of “your fucking mouth.”
Everyone has an opinion and here is mine that is a bit different than what I have heard on Twitter or elsewhere.
- Smith is 6’1. Rock is maybe 5’7. Smith looks like he is in pretty good shape. He needs to be to garner action adventure roles and movies like Ali. Smith picked on a guy who was not capable of fighting back. Smith was a bully.
- Smith slapped Rock hard. What intrigued me was that Rock did not fall or go down. For all of Smith’s anger and physical prowess, he was no Ali. Rock took the hit and quickly regained his composure.
- I did not see Smith’s acceptance speech live for Best Actor that he won shortly after this incident. He apologized with tears coming down his face to the audience and the Academy but not to Rock. A spineless crowd reportedly gave Smith a standing ovation. That may have been Smith’s best acting performance.
- Smith claimed he was defending his wife from a joke that Rock told and that Smith initually laughed at. Jada Pinkett is no Meryl Streep. Pinkett has courted interest and controversy due to the couple’s open lifestyle and extramarital affairs.
- I expect that some loony copycats may assault other comedians at clubs or other venues. Smith got away with it. Rock, to his credit, has not pressed assault charges.
- Incidents like this give racists ammunition. They’ll argue this was an example of black on black violence shown live before a national audience.
- It will be hard for the Academy to find comedians as hosts with this kind of crowd and fears of retribution if an audience member is offended by a joke.