Will Smith assaults Chris Rock on Academy Awards stage
It seemed like another tiresome Oscar night devoid of any entertainment and replete with virtue-signaling and political spiels. Just when you were about to yawn from boredom, comedian Chris Rock ascended the stage to present the Best Documentary award.
Rock began with a jab at Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz for being nominated on the same night. His next target was Denzel Washington as Macbeth. Rock said, "King Lear ain't got nothing on me."
Next, Jada Pinkett-Smith caught Rock's eye. "Jada, I love you. G.I Jane 2, can't wait to see it," he said, referring to the actress's bald head.
Perhaps Rock was unaware that Pinkett-Smith suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. Perhaps Rock thought Jada is attractive, wealthy, and successful, and her ailment is not life-threatening, and hence she could take a silly joke.
But the joke didn't go well with Jada's husband, Will Smith, who walked up to Rock on stage and slapped Rock in the face.
Rock continued laughing and exclaimed, "Will Smith just smacked the s--- out of me."
Will Smith, who was back in his seat, shrieked at Rock, "Keep my wife's name out your f------ mouth." While Rock attempted to pacify an unhinged Smith, pleading, "It was a G.I. Jane joke," Smith got angrier and repeated his previous threat loudly.
The audio of the incident was muted on American TV, but it is available online.
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022
So how would a gentleman have reacted?
He would have held his wife's hand to support her and addressed the media later about his wife's ailment. Probably shaken his head in disapproval looking at Rock.
Smith won Best Actor for the night a few minutes later.
A gentleman would have begun his acceptance speech by unconditionally apologizing to Chris Rock and for his actions.
But Smith adopted the Alec Baldwin approach of painting himself as the bigger victim.
He broke into tears — which is no effort for an actor of his experience.
"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," said Smith.
Smith was setting up the narrative — that his attack on Rock was him being a family man defending the honor of his beloved wife.
Smith then went on to sermonize.
"In this time in my life, at this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world."
Narcissists frequently uses the cloak of being devout, to claim that God is calling on them. The implication is that they are so special that God chose them among all humans.
Smith went on:
Making this film, I got to protect Aunganue Ellis, who is one of the strongest, most delicate people I've ever met. I got to protect Saniyya [Sidney] and Demi [Singleton], the two actresses who play Venus and Serena. I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.
Smith was merely an actor in the movie King Richard. He was mouthing lines from a script and following the instructions from his director.
Yet Smith seems to be claiming that "protecting" his co-stars was his sole concern. Smith's co-stars, who are non-white women, are unlikely to be thrilled on being used as pawns and painted as helpless victims as he made excuses for his violence.
Smith continued to paint himself as the brave heart who dared to take on "abuse" and people "disrespecting" him.
I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that's okay.
Smith finally appeared to deliver his mea culpa:
I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I'm not crying for winning an award. It's not about winning an award for me. It's about being able to shine a light on all of the people. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said. Just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.
Thus, Smith apologized to everybody but Chris Rock. "Love will make you do crazy things" is the kind of argument that wife-beaters use to justify their bad behavior — i.e., he struck her because he means well.
It is worth mentioning that Smith has spoken about having an open marriage with his wife Jada. A husband who deeply and unconditionally love his wife usually does not make infidelity a norm of their marriage.
The academy issued a perfunctory condemnation of violence without actually naming him.
If they really want to stand against violence, they should withdraw Smith's award.
The reaction online was that of shock.
Then there was a professor from the University of Florida who "specializes in American elections" who used the disgraceful assault to target — yes you guessed right — Donald Trump.
Will Smith just showed Ted Cruz what a real man does when someone belittles their wife— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) March 28, 2022
The academic was advocating violence against President Trump for a frivolous retweet during the 2016 primaries about Cruz's wife. Back then, Cruz had reacted appropriately, with strong words only.
This incident is likely to be spun in the coming days. Judging by the reaction, it appears that the support is leaning toward Smith. He is, after all, the bigger star.
The pundits may claim that Smith is fearlessly standing up to rampant sexism.
We must sympathize with the media race-hustlers, since both Smith and Rock are liberal non-white men. They can still and most likely will claim that Smith was confronting racism, since Jada is a non-white woman.
Will the media bring up Donald Trump and Ted Cruz again? But of course they will, and most extensively.
Next, expect Smith to go on an interview spree, shedding copious crocodile tears, claiming to have struggled owing to his wife's ailment or due to mental issues, or due to racism or the Trump presidency or war in Ukraine or Putin. Desperate times call for desperate excuses. He may claim that Rock has "attacked" his wife for a long time and as a man, he couldn't take it anymore. He may even become an advocate for women's rights.
It would be interesting to see how Rock, who is one of the finest comic minds, reacts to this.
The entitled Smith forgot the basic rule that you react to words with words. The moment you resort to violence, all is lost.
Smith's actions send a bad message to his fans, especially his young male fans. Besides legitimizing violence, Smith also was telling his fans that instead of taking responsibility for your actions, you can make excuses and claim victimhood as an escape route.
Smith certainly deserves some form of punishment for his actions.
Smith also certainly deserves the Best Actor trophy for convincingly playing the part of an amiable nice guy for three decades.
Photo credit: Twitter video screen grab.