I love watching the Oscars. The glitz and the glamor bring excitement to my perfectly un-glitzy life and the wins help us prioritize streaming choices. I was rooting for Will Smith to take home a statute. He immersed himself brilliantly into the the portrayal of Richard Williams and I am a huge fan of the Williams sisters. There is no doubt that their story deserves all the accolades. Plus, Smith's movies have raked in close to 10B, no mean feat.
Then, Chris Rock cracked a joke and all hell broke loose.
This post does not excuse Chris Rock for the insult and for trivializing a medical condition. He is simply wrong and insensitive to have made that joke. Neither does it take away from Jada Pinkett Smith’s pain of dealing with alopecia. This is about the reaction.
"He snapped!" is the excuse from defenders of Will Smith, the deliverer of the Big Slap; the same excuse used by most abusers. Smith is a rapper, comedian, and actor which means controlling his emotions is his business.
Being on a comedian's radar is usually not fun. If you don't like it, you need to get out of the heat but unleashing a physical assault is beyond absurd. What if Jesse Plemons attacked Amy Schumer after she unceremoniously evicted his wife, Kirsten Dunst, for being a seat filler?! That wasn't funny either.
The tragedy of last night was not just the slap. It wasn't even Smith's lame non-apology or that his actions overshadowed remarkable achievements by others.
The true tragedy was his speech.
Upon winning the Oscar for best actor, Smith equated his action to Richard Williams defending his family. Williams defended his family in ways fit for a movie! For years, he sustained a bubble around his daughters, suspended disbelief, turned naysayers into a supporters one at a time, held his ground, and believed in their promise. Smith took the low road in an instant.
Imagine for one second if the parties involved in the altercation were of different ethnicities. Troublesome thought, isn't it?
Will Smith should be called out for what he is - a self-absorbed, entitled, arrogant actor who chose a base instinct because he could. It's time to consider a first: take back his Oscar.