An Oscars To Remember


Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Sarah Chen, Entertainment Editor

On March 27, 2022, during the 94th Academy Awards or popularly known as the Oscars, celebrities all gathered at Dolby Theatre to be rewarded for displaying outstanding artistry, film, and character portrayal merits in the entertainment industry. After three acting nominations, Will Smith who discovered his fame through the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the late 1990s- became a best actor winner for his role as Richard Wiliams in the 2021 tennis film “King Richard”. His Oscar victory, however, came after a contentious encounter with Comedian and Oscar presenter: Chris Rocks.

So, what exactly happened? 

At Sunday Night’s ceremony, Will Smith appeared to slap Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head as he presented the Academy Award for best documentary. Rock commented “Jada I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2’, can’t wait to see it” which alluded to Jada Pinkett Smith’s experience with alopecia. Alopecia or medical term for balding, is an “autoimmune disorder that causes your hair to come out, often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter. The Red Table Talk host, who has opened up on her struggle, rolled her eyes when the camera cut to her immediate reaction. Smith immediately seemed to chuckle but following the joke, he hit rock and screamed leave my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth”. As many believed Smith’s and Rocks exchange was staged, it was this comment that convinced individuals, including Academy Awards producer Will Packer, that this incident was not staged.In fact, it spontaneously emerged as an emotional outburst. In an interview with Packer on “Good Morning America” Packer revealed his thoughts “Once I saw Will yelling at the stage with such vitriol, my heart dropped…I’ve never felt so immediately devastated like I did at that moment”. 

Upon remaining in the Dolby Theatre, Smith tearfully accepted his first acting Oscar for his portrayal of Richard Williams; in his speech, he apologized for his actions to the academy and his fellow nominees. Most notably, he did not apologize directly to Rock. Packer called Smith’s failure in directly apologizing to Rock onstage as a “missed opportunity”.

In a chronological account of the aftermath, Packer also said that officers were prepared to arrest Smith for “battery” if Rock wanted to press charges. When the police asked whether Rock wanted them to take any action, Rocked replied with “No”. Following a lot of criticism and backlash, Smith addressed the comedian the following day in an Instagram post writing, 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…”. Following in a post on twitter, the Academy shared their response to this incident as they viewed it as unacceptable behavior. “The Academy does not condone violence of any form”. 

As fans, audience members, and involved parties are shocked by this incident, it is important to address the topic of accountability and responsibility, specifically for our actions.

To what extent are our actions justifiable? What measures of responsibility should be done to be transparent and self-reflective of our actions? In the case of  Will Smiths’ Oscar’s incident, how do we define whether his actions were justifiable? Considering facts and perspectives on both sides, ultimately, the answer is up to you, the audience.

So, What are your thoughts on this incident?