The Slap

Kayla Funk, Staff Writer

As everybody (and I mean everybody) knows, the Oscars featured an unexpected event between Chris Rock and Will Smith. And by event I mean slap. Chris Rock got slapped. 

Chris Rock was taking his moment on stage to crack a couple jokes (as comedians do) when he stumbled upon the topic of Jada Pinkett Smith and her new haircut. She has released to the public that she has been struggling with alopecia since 2018 and made the decision to shave her head. Alopecia is a disease that causes cells in your immune system to attack your hair follicles, causing hair loss. So, when Rock made a joke about her starring in G.I. Jane 2, it is understandable that she could take offense to it. When the joke was made Will Smith is initially seen laughing at the joke before looking over to his wife, who is less than pleased. Within seconds Smith was up on stage approaching Rock before slapping him in the face and going back to his seat to continue yelling at Rock for the joke.  

The event has reflected poorly on everyone involved in some light. In Chris Rock’s case, he made an insensitive joke over something that the person has no control over. In Will Smith’s case, he acted out of emotion at a highly esteemed event. Smith has created a situation that has ruined his image as an actor and has definitely tainted his career. He acknowledged this in his speech after winning Best Actor for his role in King Richard. Smith said things such as, “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,” and “Thank you. I hope the Academy invites me back.” The statements made during his speech do show that he is aware that what he did was wrong and that he acted without thinking. He seemed to express his regret and accept some responsibility for his actions.

This event has everyone talking, taking sides and brutally ridiculing those involved. Everyone has different views in regards to who is in the wrong and this event is definitely the most talked about aspect of the Oscars. Aside from the incident’s effects on Smith and Rock, it affected the Oscars as a whole. Because of the severity of the situation it distracted from the many amazing things that occurred at the Oscars and took away attention from people who deserved it. For example, Ariana Debose took home the award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Anita in West Side Story (2021). This makes her the first Afro-Latina and openly queer woman to take home an Oscar in any acting category. Troy Kotsur earned the award of Best Supporting Actor in CODA (which won Best Picture), making him the second deaf person to win an academy award. But not nearly enough people are talking about these amazing accomplishments because of what happened between Smith and Rock. 

At the end of the day, I think the overshadowing that the event caused on others’ accomplishments was worse than the slap itself. The special moments of others were taken away by a sub par joke and a knee-jerk reaction. Smith’s actions have resulted in him being banned from the Oscars and any other Academy event for the next 10 years, although he can still receive nominations. Truthfully, embarrassment on national television is a huge punishment on its own. Smith is a walking representation of “think before you speak,” or before you slap, in his case.