Undoubtedly, the biggest shock at the 2022 Oscars was when “King Richard” star Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on live TV after Chris had made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock, But Why?
Will Smith, who was the recipient of the Best Actor Oscar award for his performance in King Richard, slapped presenter Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony. This took place after Chris Rock cracked a joke about Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance.
“Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it (sic),” Rock had said this concerning Jada’s appearance, taking shots at her bald head.
Will Smith appeared to be laughing initially after Chris’ joke at his wife. However, Will proceeded to walk onto the stage, then slapped Rock in the face. “Wow,” said Chris, he also added, “Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me.”
Will’s comments were bleeped after he returned to his seat, however, as per reports according to sources and the viral videos, Will had told Rock: “Keep my wife’s name out your f***king mouth.” To which Chris replied, “Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke.”
Will had also repeatedly said, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth,” resulting in the audience going silent.
Chris’ joke at the 2022 Oscar ceremony was about Jada’s shaved head. This was because of the autoimmune disorder alopecia; however, the joke didn’t sit well with Will Smith. Jada Pinkett Smith’s balding appearance is a result of alopecia. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss by attacking hair follicles.
Will Smith publicly Apologies to Rock through his Instagram
Smith issued an apology for his actions at the Oscars on Instagram, saying that he regrets reacting emotionally to the joke about Jada’s medical condition. He said it was inappropriate and wrong of him to make such jokes at her expense since she is going through so much pain already.
Smith’s Instagram Post:
Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness. I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will
Will Smith Apologies to the academy
Media sources have reported that Chris later approached the Smiths for apologizing. Afterward, when Smith returned to claim the prize for Best Actor. He made a reference to the altercation with Chris, he then spoke. “I want to apologize to The Academy; I want to apologize to all of my fellow nominees,” he spoke with tears in his eyes. “I hope the Academy invites me back,” continued Will. However, Will did not apologize on stage to Chris directly, as per the reports.
The Historic Tension Between Jada, Chris, and Will.
Chris was the host of the 88th Academy Awards, which was held on February 28, 2016. Before this ceremony, Jada had made a video in which she was announcing that she was boycotting the 2016 Oscars. The reason is ‘no persons of color were nominated in any of the major acting categories. This included her husband Will being snubbed despite his performance in Concussion the previous year being critically acclaimed.
A video of part of Chris’ opening monologue being shared on social media on Monday, shows him addressing Jada’s boycott video. Podcaster Jason Calacanis shared the video on Twitter, the tweet consisted of words that said, “Ok, there’s some history here with Chris Rock and Will Smith as well as Jada. In the video, Chris is seen saying, “Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘Isn’t she on a TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”
Chris Rock further goes on to roast Will. Referencing Will’s 1999 box office flop Wild Wild West, Chris said, “It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It is also not fair that he was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West!”
At the time, Jada had addressed Chris’ jokes nonchalantly. According to a report in ET Online, Jada said, “Hey look, it comes with the territory, we gotta keep it moving. We have a lot of stuff that we gotta handle, a lot of stuff going on in our world right now. We gotta keep it moving.”
Meanwhile, according to the reports, Chris has refused to file a police complaint against Will for slapping him onstage.
The Post Altercation Reaction
Some have pointed out that Smith was defending his wife, while others used the occasion to speak out against the violence as well as comments Black women along with other marginalized folks are often forced to endure under the pretext of “comedy.”
Oscar viewers along with celebrities took to Twitter after the exchange occurred, to call out Smith for being unable to take a joke as well as to condemn the eventual Oscar winner for putting front a dangerous example of how to react to comedians.
Rapper Nicki Minaj was among those in disbelief, however, she said that she didn’t think Rock would have made the joke “had he known what Jada recently shared.” She didn’t believe that he as well as the whole team at the Oscars were unaware of Jada Pinkett Smith’s health struggle.
“Here’s the thing. And this is such an AMAZING – EYE OPENING example. The husband has a front-row seat to his wife’s pain. He’s the 1 consoling her, drying her tears behind closed doors when the cameras are off. Social media has made ppl feel that these ‘husbands’ will not ever run into them in real life,” Nicki tweeted.
“You just got to witness in real-time what happens in a man’s soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a ‘little joke’ at her expense,” Nicki added. “This is what any and every real man feels in that instant. While y’all are seeing the joke he is seeing her pain”
Others remained in Smith’s corner, including the rapper 50 Cent. He made light of the situation by posting an image of Smith’s tearful acceptance speech. He tweeted, “You have to win Oscars to do this kinda s***. After I win, I am gonna slap the s*** out of a few people. LOL”
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Update: This article is updated on March 29th, 2022 to add Will Smith’s apology post on Instagram.