The 94th edition of the Oscars will certainly go down in history, but not for a film. During the world broadcast, broadcast in Italy on the night between 27 and 28 March 2022, we witnessed a scene that certainly indelibly marked the famous ceremony and, perhaps, also the career of Will Smith .
The slap to Chris Rock
During a show, comedian Chris Rock made a series of jokes aimed at the celebrity audience in the hall. Among these also Will Smith, vying for the coveted statuette with the film King Richard – A winning family. The comedian turned to the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, with a joke about her physical appearance.
Suffering from alopecia for several years, Smith’s partner has her hair shaved to zero and conducts a massive awareness campaign on this disease. Chris Rock, turning to Jada Pinkett Smith, asked if her next film would be GI Jane 2 (hypothetical sequel to Soldier Jane , a 1997 film in which Demi Moore shaves her hair).
The comedian’s joke caused some dissension among the audience, but it seemed that the matter would be resolved with a forced smile from the actor and the woman. Seconds later, Will Smith gets up, takes the stage and slaps Chris Rock. Back in his seat, the actor removes all doubts from anyone who thought it was a gag by uttering heavy words: “Leave my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” The comedian, to the dismay and disbelief of the audience, merely replies: “I’ll do it.”
Ironically, minutes after the brawl , Will Smith is back on stage again, this time to collect his first Oscar. During the speech, between tears, the actor apologizes to the Academy and his colleagues in the room by declaring: “Love makes you do crazy things.”
The reactions to Will Smith’s slap
The slap, broadcast live worldwide, will leave an indelible mark on this edition of the Oscars. The images went around the world and triggered an avalanche of reactions . There are those who take the actor’s side, those who instead invoke the freedom of expression of satire, those who speak of toxic masculinity, those who have created memorable memes .
Comments from colleagues were also not long in coming. One above all that of Gabriele Muccino , who wrote on Twitter : “ I’m sorry for how Will managed to ruin the most important evening of his life. Nobody knows the history of that nerve so exposed that it makes him lose control. He always knows how to get out of any situation. The fact that he tripped yesterday pains me. “
In any case, the story is destined to remain open. If on the one hand Chris Rock has made it known that he will not report Will Smith, on the other there is the statement of the Academy in which the condemnation for the actions of the new Oscar winner was underlined. It also reads: “We have officially initiated a formal review of the matter , and we will evaluate further actions and consequences following our standards of conduct and California law.” The actor could therefore lose the coveted statuette and even be banned from future ceremonies.
Between toxic masculinity and paternalism
What has most ignited the debate in these hours is not so much the joke itself as the reaction of Will Smith and above all the speech that followed it. Chris Rock’s words were certainly in bad taste, but the mechanism that triggered it was so too. Once again we witnessed the actions of a man who responded on behalf of his wife, without thinking about the consequences and justifying the violence as proof of love.
In all this, the real protagonist has thus remained in the shadows, without any right of reply because the scene was stolen from her by two alpha males : Chris Rock who allows himself to joke about his illness and Will Smith who takes on the role of “avenger. of the night “to defend the beloved. But what about Jada Pinkett Smith’s opinion? Perhaps, when things finally calm down, you will be able to express it.