Will Smith’s Slap at the Oscars Sparks Debate over Violence on TV

Will Smith’s Slap at the Oscars Sparks Debate over Violence on TV

By Vanessa Obioha

Will Smith may have won his first Oscars last night but his debacle with comedian Chris Rock is what is keeping his name on many news headlines today. Rock, who had joked about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair, received a slap from the actor. 

“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?” Chris said from the stage as Jada, who has been open about her alopecia diagnosis, and Will watched from the front row. Smith, defending his wife, strode to the stage and slapped a stunned Rock.

 “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!” Smith screamed at Rock after he returned to his seat.

The scene went viral and raised speculations that it may have been staged given the Academy’s low ratings in recent times.

Although Smith later apologised for his behaviour during his acceptance speech for the Best Actor award for the movie ‘King Richard’, many celebrities have weighed in on the matter. On one side of the fence are those who support Will Smith, and on the other side are his critics. But some condemned both actors for their behaviour.

The Oscars debacle sparked discussion on racism and violence on TV.

For instance,  the American comedian tweeted: “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 theatres.”

British actress Jodie Turner-Smith tweeted: “And as far as that *that incident* goes….. I am still processing. I have second hand embarrassment for all involved.”

Political commentator Michael Steele also wrote that “What a sad commentary when you slap the crap out of someone on live TV, win an Oscar, get a standing ovation and then accept that Oscar talking about “love”. There was so much wrong about this moment. #Oscars2022”

His thoughts were echoed too by media personality Maria Shriver who tweeted that “We should never get to a place where we sit and watch a movie star hit someone on global television then, moments later, get a standing ovation while talking about love. #WillSmith #Oscars”

Defending itself, The Academy Awards posted on Twitter that it does not condone violence. But the tweet did little to salvage the situation as many replied to the tweet with more criticisms.

A Twitter user wrote: “..does not condone violence?…celebrates deserved winners?

What every kid learned today is if anyone makes a joke you don’t like, good or bad; it’s okay to hit them! Screw talking to them or official complaints, etc, just get physical and hit them. You may even get rewarded!”

Another wrote: “The world learned that black culture has trauma and we’re healing from it, black men taking up for black women is a part of that. That should be the takeaway, not black icons setting an example for non-black people.”

Chris, however, is yet to publicly address the incident.

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