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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Chris Rock slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars

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A composite image of Chris Rock (L) and Will Smith (R). Photo courtesy of David Shankbone and Gage Skidmore via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons respectively.

This year’s Oscars was probably one of the most entertaining, with fantastic films and actors receiving their well-deserved awards. But the only problem was that the awards weren’t the only thing being handed out this year. What started out as friendly humor turned into anger, as Hollywood legend Will Smith got up and approached this year’s presenter, Chris Rock, and slapped him across the face. It is being called “the slap that was heard around the world,” and for good reason. The Oscar Awards Ceremony has audiences from all over the world, and some of them condemned the actions of Will Smith.
It started out with Chris Rock making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who is Will Smith’s wife since 1997. Rock jokingly said: “Jada, I love ya. G.I Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” For context, Pinkett Smith has publicly discussed having been diagnosed with Alopecia, an auto-immune disease, and G.I Jane starred Demi Moore who went bald for the role. While Will initially seemed to laugh at this joke, seconds later he stormed to the stage to slap Rock, returned back to his seat, and screamed: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—— mouth”. While U.S. broadcasters managed to mute this heated exchange for about ten minutes, international broadcasters played the exchange in its entirety. People were dazed at the authenticity of this exchange, as Rock maintained his professionalism after being slapped and went on to host the show rubbing off the facts.
While certain people believe Smith should be charged for assault, there is a deeper reason as to why the man got up to defend his wife. Rock had taken a jab at Pinkett Smith at the 2016 Oscars as well, and this could have started to look more like a shaming pattern or a jab series. Will Smith later apologized on stage when he won Best Actor for “King Richard,” where he starred as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams. He explained the importance of being the vessel that protects his loved ones as Richard did. While it is admirable, it was also against the law. People have taken to social media that Smith should be charged for assault and not be given a pass for this act. Both parties had clearly made their fair share of mistakes on that night.
Rock’s sportsmanship is admirable as he declined to press charges against Smith to the LAPD, and comes across as he understood that Smith is in a place of deeper thoughts and meaning and there was no further reason to prolong this conflict anymore. The Academy also condemns this action, which it needs to since it is a body following the rules and regulations of the U.S.A. A formal review has been opened, where an official of the Academy stated: “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law.” Even if Rock may have let it slide, the organization involved is always going to perform its due diligence to avoid future complications in any shape or form.
Even though Jada was public about Alopecia, when a comedian makes jokes by belittling or offending someone it is called “punching down.” It is usually demonstrated in friendly spirits, but occasionally, the situation can cause mixed feelings that can end in disastrous results. Jokes punching down should be avoided as much as possible, even if it seems appropriate, and assault should never be the response as it is reckless and irresponsible.

About the Contributor
Preetan Natesh, News Writer