A 53-year-old actor assaulted a 57-year-old comedian last night on live television. The Twitteratti are divided into warring camps based on which celebrity they like more. I am in neither camp. I’m not a fan of grown men acting like petulant children.
It’s actually simple: both Will Smith and Chris Rock were wrong. Rock for making a tasteless joke about Smith’s wife and Smith for losing his shit and assaulting Rock. The old saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” was never more apt than today.
Here’s the action as seen on Japanese but not American teevee:
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022
I was struck (pun intended) by how many folks defended Smith by referring to his mild-mannered public image. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. Will Smith’s image management was legendary until last night. He stepped on what should have been his crowning achievement by losing his shit.
He went back into Fresh Prince/Nice Guy nothing is wrong Will Smith mode until he consulted with his publicist:
“A few minutes later, Sean Combs was onstage trying to make peace: “Will and Chris, we’re gonna solve that like family at the Gold Party.” The Smiths were back in the pocket now, laughing and clapping appreciatively as Will readied himself for the almost certain Best Actor win he’d been waiting 20 years for.
At that moment, it seemed like Will Smith might just carry on with business as planned. But during the commercial breaks, journalists in the theater’s upper levels saw Smith huddling with his publicist and Denzel Washington, among others, and by the time his name was finally called, he’d realized there was no separating his violent outburst from his moment of triumph.”
Smith issued a non-apology apology when what was needed were reciprocal sincere apologies from Rock and Smith. Rock was guilty of punching down at Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia. And Smith was guilty of overreacting. If someone insulted Dr. A, I would flip them off, yell at them, but I wouldn’t assault them. Ordinary people get arrested for assault every day, but celebrities do not.
I’m a film and music buff, but I’m not big on celebrity gossip. We don’t really know our favorite celebs; we just think we do. We know what they want us to know or what a sometimes-hostile press corps shares with us. What’s spin and what’s truth are hard to discern.
Celebrities are often different than their public image. Sometimes, they’re better. Sometimes, they’re worse but it’s all a facade. All you have to do is think of the most extreme past examples and you know what I’m saying.
I understand the people who are applauding Will Smith for sticking up for his wife, but the Oscar ceremony is not a bar. Insulting people isn’t cool, but neither is assault. Grown ass men shouldn’t go around hitting other grown ass men. Act your age, guys.
It’s depressing that life has turned into a sordid reality show where people act out their fantasies. Can you imagine Sidney Poitier assaulting anyone, anywhere, anytime in real life?
Will Smith is no Poitier, but his lack of impulse control ruined a special moment in his life. We should be talking about his Oscar-winning performance, not his acting like Joes Giudice and Gorga on the Real Housewives of New Jersey:
I never thought I’d compare Chris Rock and Will Smith to those two brain-dead bozos. In the immortal words of Bob Marley, “who the cap fit, let them wear it.”
The best thing I’ve read about the slap heard round the world is by Slate’s Sam Adams who presents a nuanced account of the single-worst moment in Academy Award history. Nothing else compares.
Repeat after me: Two wrongs don’t make a right.
The last word goes to Bob Marley & The Wailers: