Will Smith is a sad case. On the night where he should have consecrated his career as the great actor he is, celebrating his Oscar for best actor thanks to his fantastic role in King Richard, Smith decided to ruin the night with his own hands, slapping comedian Chris Rock, who made a joke against Jada Smith, the actor’s wife.
Will Smith’s reaction against Rock is unacceptable and indefensible. It is true, the joke about Jada’s shaved head, who suffers from alopecia, was out of place and even in bad taste, but that is no excuse to scold him, hit him, and then lose his temper in an event of such magnitude.
Comedy can be heavy, cruel, black, and it’s okay to be that way. If you don’t like it, easy, don’t consume it. If you’re that uncomfortable with a comedy show or heavy jokes, ignore them or, failing that, criticize them. If every comedian was beaten due to a heavy joke, comedy would die.
Will Smith should know how comedy works, he’s a comedian, he could have taken Jada by the hand, walked out of the event, and subsequently criticized Rock’s show or given a statement. That would have been a proportional response. But no, Smith decided to demean himself, put on a show and behave like a man without composure, impulsive and violent. It doesn’t get any sadder than that.
There are those who defend Smith, arguing that his reaction was “normal” and understandable since an “insult” — which was no such thing — can be answered with a slap. Others say he defended his wife and that’s why it’s okay. They are very wrong. Standing up for your own is not going through life throwing punches; comparing a joke to an insult, threat or abuse is wrong; and giving that image globally is an embarrassment. Also, Will Smith frankly has no excuse. He is indefensible. His disproportionate reaction against Chris Rock comes moments after he himself let out an obvious guffaw at the joke directed at Jada. He only reacted once he saw that his wife didn’t like the joke, but he himself was complicit in Rock’s joke, with his laughter.
Smith’s night, which should have been glorious for him, ended up being pathetic. When he received his statuette, he burst into tears, like a confused child. He cited love to justify his slap, said he wanted to be a vessel for love, and apologized to everyone but the man he hit. Oh, and he got a standing ovation from the Hollywood crowd. A hypocritical closing that lives up to what The Academy is today.