The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to the Will Smith-Chris Rock slap episode that has overshadowed everything else that happened at the 94th Academy Awards.
It said in a statement tweeted on its official account: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form.” Then went on to say: “Tonight, we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
Here is what happened, Watch the Video
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) March 28, 2022
The 94th Academy Awards were all but hijacked by Will Smith who, shortly before he won the Oscar for Best Actor, punched and swore at presenter Chris Rock who made a joke about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett. In his emotional speech soon after, a tearful Will Smith apologised – although not directly to Chris Rock. ““I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all 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,” he said, “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.”
In a loaded speech, Will Smith said, “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.”
Will Smith also revealed what fellow Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington told him in the commercial break after the altercation with Chris Rock. ““Thank you, Dee. Denzel said a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,’” Will Smith said.
Chris Rock enraged Will Smith by making a GI Jane joke about Jada Pinkett, in apparent reference to her shaved head – Jada suffers from alopecia As she eye-rolled, Will went up on stage, slapped Chris, returned to his seat and yelled out, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*****g mouth.” Chris Rock told the audience, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me. It was a G.I. Jane joke. That was the greatest night in the history of television.”
Variety’ reports that while presenting the best documentary feature award, Rock, a well-regarded comic actor, joked about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, starring in ‘G.I. Jane 2’ because of her bald head. He was referencing the 1997 movie ‘G.I. Jane’ in which Demi Moore appears with a shaved head.
Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia, a medical condition causes aggravated hair loss. Smith reacted to the joke by going up on stage, separated from where he was sitting by a foot, and slapping Rock. He then returned to his seat and shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth!”
Smith won Best Actor for ‘King Richard’ following the incident and issued an apology in a tearful acceptance speech. The actor said: “I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise to all 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.”
The point to be noted here is that Smith did not apologise to Rock, the target of his wrathful behaviour that has overtaken the coverage of the otherwise carefully crafted event.
What many thought was a comic improvisation when it took place on live TV, Will Smith’s slap on the face of Chris Rock, an emotion outburst against a joke made in poor taste about Jada Pinkett Smith’s lack of hair, drew a barrage of responses on Twitter.
The reactions, as to be expected, ranged from jokes and memes to serious reminders from the Hollywood community that people must not assault comedians just because their jokes don’t work.
Here’s a sample of what Hollywood stars told ‘Variety’ at the Oscars after-party:
Conan O’Brien, celebrity talk show host: “Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?”
Minnie Driver: “It was deeply personal. We were all privy to … emotions running really high. I really hope they will make up later. It’s hard to watch somebody’s pain like that.”
Record producer and celebrated rapper 50 Cent: “B!tch don’t you ever play with me. LOL”
Oscar-nominated (‘Judas and The Black Messiah’) identical twins, The Lucas Brothers: “Every comedian should post a Will Smith joke in solidarity with Chris Rock. I’m not. But every other comedian should.”
Colman ‘Les Hombres de Paco’ Domingo: “I thought he’s from West Philly, just like I’m from West Philly. We’re very passionate people.” (West Philly, for the uninitiated, is short form for West Philadelphia.)
‘Parks and Recreation’ star Billy Eichner said he thought he was “dreaming” when Will Smith took the stage and hit Chris Rock: “I thought it was a really great show until it took an odd, unexpected turn.”
Transgender Golden Globe-winning TV star Michaela Jae Rodriguez: “Sometimes human emotions happen. Sometimes human interactions happen. We can’t judge people based on their moments.”
Kathy Griffin, Emmy- and Grammy-winning comedian: “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.”
Film and television writer Kenya Barris: “There needs to be a clear distinction between work and home. We’ve gotten it confused.”
YouTube sensation Michael Ian Black: “So disappointing that Will Smith played Muhammad Ali but he couldn’t even knock out Chris Rock.”