12 Thoughts On Will Smith Attacking Chris Rock At The Oscars

1. Medically speaking, alopecia (baldness) is about as dangerous as an inability to grow a beard. Man or woman, the harm is your vanity not your time on earth. I’ve realised that part of the debate online stems from ignorance. People think because it’s a “big word”, it carries a death sentence or some gross debilitation. It really doesn’t. So, easy with the “sensitive” comments. Go to Google and search for “Stevie Wonder jokes”.

2. Roasting celebrities is a part of the Oscars Covenant. Stay home if you can’t abide by the covenant. Jada is not just the wife to a celebrity, she is a celebrity. She is fair game.

3. If you think punching a man or woman live on TV in one of the most watched shows in the world is right, it is one reason you haven’t been invited to an event on that level. Stay in your ‘hood and do as you like.

3b. Do you know what it means that from now on, at an event usually bound by class and oversized stardom since 1929, there will be security lurking around to save famous people from irrational famous people.

4. Part of the problem is ignorance. Many people shouting foolishly, too young or too uninterested at the time, have never actually seen Demi Moore in GI Jane.

4b. You don’t need to see GI Jane to understand that, within the space they occupied that night, Chris Rock was entirely right and Will Smith was being a buffoon. Defend yourself by all means but if nobody has attempted to hit you, keep your damn hands to yourself.

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5. That punch was not about a decent GI Jane joke; it was about the ridicule the Smith family has endured over the past few years. The ridicule, though, is self-inflicted by a member of the family and one outsider: Jada on one hand, August Alsina on the other. Clearly, Will Smith can’t face either of them but he can now apply to join their self-disgracing group chat.

6. While accepting his Best Actor Oscar, Will Smith compared himself to Richard Williams, claiming to be a fierce defender. Well, Richard didn’t open up Serena and Venus and his whole family to mockery and belittling memes for at best, this whole year. At the next Oscars, the “slap heard around the world” is going to get drummed up and everybody connected with the Smiths are going to get reminded of their patriarch’s behaviour. How can anyone call that an act of defending one’s people?

6b. Will Smith’s responsibilities and Richard’s are vastly different. Richard Williams was never the famous one in his family. He wouldn’t be able to get his family choice seats just by showing up; Will certainly can. Fame has perks but carries a burden. Only a fool doesn’t acknowledge this. At the 2022 Oscars, Will Smith played a fool.

7. For years the black community shouted #OscarsSoWhite. The Academy has been trying to change by including black people and other minorities across the board, from membership to nominees to hosts. One of the most prominent faces of that community goes up to punch another black man in the face at the main event. Does anyone really think a country with so many racists doesn’t see a connection? Of course, those racists are looking at that display and saying, “We told you so”.

7b. At least one Hollywood trade magazine has had to delete a comment mocking The Academy for wanting “more black” at the Oscars under their report of the event.

8. It was a good joke. You can disagree; you can get hurt. You can certainly “talk your own”. But a 53-year old throwing hands because of a joke made by a comedian at a public event is an agbaya. Nothing more. That’s a schoolkid move. Will Smith has made himself a joke and deserves to be arrested.

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9. Chris Rock is a Hero and a Saint. Will Smith is bigger than he is, so maybe it was a wise move to not retaliate. A smart man avoids a fight he’s unlikely to win. But Rock didn’t have to retaliate to destroy the evening. He could have ripped off his microphone after Will’s action and made for the exit.

That would have stopped the show for several minutes and considering he was there to announce the winner of Best Documentary, which just happened to be Questlove, his action would have stopped the event and ruined the night for at least three black men and their friends who had come to show support at the film industry’s biggest night. There is a chance that to get him to return would have had led to Will Smith getting thrown out of the Dolby Theatre. But the man played it cool. He took a punch he couldn’t defend and the show went on. That’s super-professional. A comedian ended up more classy than one of the biggest stars in film history. For shame.

9b. Chris Rock is a Saint. He didn’t press charges. I would have.

9c. Chris Rock is a Saint. Evil comics like Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle may have thrown another devastating joke as Will Smith landed in his seat; a number of such jokes have been flying around and as one of the greatest comedians ever, Rock can make a more devilish one. And if Will chooses to return onstage, whoever was onstage would be better prepared to dodge, run backstage, punch back, or grapple. And then, “Party scatter,” as a famous Nigerian philosopher once said.

9d. A certain kind of person want Chris Rock to be wrong so bad, they have composed a letter of apology for him. It’s a fake letter. The man did absolutely nothing wrong. If Will Smith laughed it off, nobody would even remember the joke!

10. Will Smith should get the disgrace his behaviour deserves. Comedy clubs roasting and online mockery are not enough. The Academy has to make him an example so everybody else remembers they are not at the Source Awards. (Hiphop fans of a certain age will get the reference.)

11. They should have just given Denzel Washington his third Oscar.

12. If Will Smith had decided to leave the venue with his wife after the joke and then won the Best Actor Oscar, imagine what that would do for his reputation. Instead, his team has had to craft that apology on Instagram. Consider the number of phone calls they have to make as they figure out how to keep his relationships within Hollywood intact. Look at what violence did to Russel Crowe and to Scott Rudin.

12b. In Hollywood today, it’s easy to escape dire consequences for despicable behaviour if you belong to a historically marginalised group. So, in a twisted way, while Will Smith may have hurt his black community’s representation at the Oscars after years of protests, being a black person might end up saving his foolish ass.

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Nigeria’s most acclaimed writer-reviewer.

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Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Nigeria’s most acclaimed writer-reviewer.

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