By now, you’ve either seen it first hand, or heard about best actor nominee, Will Smith, getting up and clocking Chris Rock in his face in response to a G.I. Jane joke in reference to his wife Jada’s short hair cut. I actually watched it during the live presentation where the camera panned to Jada and her husband who were seated near the front of the stage. Jada flinched in response to the joke, rolled her eyes, and gave Chris Rock the side-eye. Will proceeded to yell out, “Keep my wife’s name out ya fuckin’ mouth!” He was kind enough to repeat this several times as he bolted from his seat and marched up to the stage and slapped the hell out of the comedian. It was hard to believe what I was seeing and very uncomfortable to watch.
Will stunned a visibly shaken Chris Rock. He also shocked viewers, members of the academy & peers who literally sat on the edge of their seats aghast at what they just witnessed. Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz & other attendees jaw dropped in disbelief wondering if this was scripted or not. Viewers pondered the same thing I found as Twitter blew up. Denzel Washington & Tyler Perry pulled Will aside during the intermission to calm him down. Smith ended up winning the coveted Oscar award for King Williams, for his portrayal of tennis legends ‘Venus and Serena Williams father, Richard Williams. Smith received a standing ovation, ironically enough.
In one of the most off the cuff, rambling acceptance speeches about “protection and respect,” Smith rambled on about wanting to “uplift his people” and “protecting” those close to him. Where was Chris Rock’s protection? This was workplace violence, pure and simple. Too bad Smith didn’t deem it necessary to apologize for his abhorrent behavior in that put a damper on the evening.
There are some people who immediately jumped to the defense of Will as his wife suffers from alopecia. I have got to admit, I was stunned to see the amount of Black people post that he was protecting his wife! Some even suggested that Rock wouldn’t have made the same joke to a white actress. I was really disappointed to read a tweet by Prentice Penny bringing up the Crown Act, a bill recently passed about Black hair styles being protected in the workplace as justification for Smith’s actions. Penny is one of my favorite co-creators from the former HBO hit show, Insecure.
Excuse me? Chris Rock was verbally and physically assaulted on national television because of a joke by one of his industry peers. Black people are sporadically acknowledged for their work and are vocal about the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry and I believe this could be a major setback for Black actors and actresses. I hope I’m proven wrong. Something tells me Jada and her handlers will get Rock to come onto her Red Table Talk show and discuss why Chris got clocked by her husband and to forgive & forget. I hope he turns them down if asked.