The Slap Heard Around the World

Will Smith’s slap was inappropriate, distracted from good moments at the Oscars


That was the main attraction of the Oscars this year. When comedian Chris Rock took to the stage to announce the Best Documentary Winner, he fired a series of jokes beforehand. One of those jokes was aimed at Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has been struggling with the hair-loss condition, Alopecia. 

“Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock said, commenting on how her bald head made her appear as a G.I. Joe character. As soon as this joke was delivered, Will Smith walked up on stage and slapped Rock across the face. There was a brief moment of shock as people processed what happened, and then Rock proceeded to say that Smith had just slapped him and that it was only a “G.I. Jane joke.” Smith then screamed at Rock saying, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!” 

This event obviously attracted a lot of attention, filling the last couple of days with a multitude of opinions on the “slap.” 

Some people believe that the “slap” was justified while others view it as inappropriate. I lean more toward the latter. While Rock’s joke was a little out of hand and it’s understandable that Smith would find it offensive, he didn’t have to react publicly. He could have approached Rock during a commercial break or after the show and let his anger show then. Instead, he disrupted a formal event being broadcasted on live television and took the spotlight away from the people earning the awards. The Oscars are supposed to honor achievements on screen, but none of those achievements have been able to be recognized with Smith’s actions. Chris Rock is also a comedian. It’s his job to make jokes about people. Yes, some jokes can be out of line, but in the end, people should understand that it’s a joke or bring it up with the comedian at an appropriate time. Recently, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced it was suspending Smith from attending the Oscars for 10 years. I actually think that this punishment is excessive–a one-year suspension would have been more appropriate.

As mentioned previously, the “slap” has taken away from the actual focus of the show. There were several big awards and events that happened at the Oscars that aren’t getting attention because of the “slap.” For example, actor Samuel L. Jackson, who has played countless big roles like Nick Fury in the Marvel Franchise, Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, and Mace Window in Star Wars, and who is personally regarded as one of the best actors of all time, won his first Oscar at the Governor’s Awards. The Governor’s Awards are held before the actual broadcasted Oscars and honor actors who have heavily impacted film and television. Jackson was awarded the Lifetime Award by Denzel Washington, who is good friends with Jackson.

Another big event that happened was when Ariana DeBose won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first queer woman of color to win an award. DeBose starred as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s rendition of West Side Story. DeBose has starred in other projects as well, including being part of the ensemble in Hamilton. Additionally, Troy Kutsur won an Oscar for best supporting actor in the movie Coda. With this award, he made history as the first deaf actor to win an Oscar. Before CODA, he starred in a few lesser-known movies and was a stage actor. These events are all history-making and should be trending headlines, however, their attention was taken away by Will’s Smith slap, which only made the Oscars look like a joke. 

There are also a lot of rumors and theories surrounding the “slap.” For example, Smith won Best Actor for his movie King Richard. However, there are discussions that the Academy might take his Oscar away. This is the Bel-Air Star’s first Oscar, and it would be a little depressing to see him get it taken away. Personally, while I disagree with his actions, I believe that he should get to keep the award. N0t only did he work for that Oscar in King Richard but also his whole career. Furthermore, there are rumors that the whole “slap” was fake. People on social media are claiming that it was a whole setup to get the Oscars more viewers and to get people talking about the show. There are a few suspicious events that support this claim, one being how Will Smith was first seen laughing at Rock’s joke, and then not even a few seconds later he stormed on stage and slapped him across the face. The most reasonable explanation for this sudden mood change is how Smith’s wife flashed an angry look at Smith after the joke, seemingly visibly upset about it. Maybe Smith just wanted to defend his wife, but it also seems suspicious how quickly he shifted moods. 

Overall, this year’s Oscars were filled with excitement from start to finish. From Smith slapping Rock to history-making awards, I think that nobody is going to easily forget what happened on March 27th, 2022. Maybe award shows are just looking for ways to attract more attention, or maybe not. I mean, the Grammys just happened and nothing chaotic happened there. I guess we’ll just have to wait until next year to see what happens in Oscars 2023.