Academy expresses major regrets over Will Smith’s slap

by Melvin Durai

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has concluded its formal review of the incident involving actor Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock at the 94th Oscars on March 24, 2022, and issued the following statement:

The Academy would like to apologize once again to the millions of viewers from around the world who were exposed to violence and foul language on March 24 without buying a movie ticket. We do not condone violence and foul language in any form that is totally free to consume.

When violence and foul language are freely available, they become normalized. We do not want to live in a society where it’s considered normal behavior to slap Chris Rock.

Indeed, slapping any comedian is unacceptable behavior. Comedians should be free to make jokes of all kinds, even those in poor taste, without the threat of being slapped. If people get slapped whenever they produce something in poor taste, there’d be a lot of red faces at Panda Express.

As everyone is aware, the incident at the Oscars occurred while Mr. Rock was presenting the award for best documentary. He made a “G.I. Jane” joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, alluding to her shaved head but unaware that she suffers from alopecia, a disorder that causes hair loss. Mr. Smith walked onto the stage to let Mr. Rock know about his wife’s condition by means of a slap. He returned to his seat and issued a verbal warning to Mr. Rock, using language unsuitable for children and offensive to innumerable adults in households all over Utah. Thankfully, the broadcast was briefly muted in America, but in Australia, Japan and other countries, audiences were not just exposed to Mr. Smith’s words, they promptly tweeted them to their friends all over Utah.

Mr. Smith’s actions were disgraceful and reprehensible. This was the first time in the history of award shows that a presenter has been slapped by an award nominee, not counting the annual award show of the World Wrestling Federation.

Mr. Smith’s actions were deeply shocking and traumatic, not just for viewers at home but also for thousands of guests in the Dolby Theater who witnessed his actions in-person and will be forever scarred by the image of one celebrity slapping another. Many of them feared for their safety, wondering if Mr. Smith had lost his mind and would go on a slapping spree.

The Academy would like to apologize again to Mr. Rock and commend him for his resilience and composure, his commitment to be rock-steady and not willful. Had he chosen to retaliate, we might have witnessed a brawl on stage, resulting in an arrest or two.

No arrest took place, of course. The Los Angeles Police Department was prepared to make an arrest, but Mr. Rock declined to press charges. He made this decision on his own free will—as far as we know—not under threat of another slap.

As everyone is aware, Mr. Smith remained in the audience for the rest of the ceremony. This was a mistake on our part. We asked Mr. Smith to leave and he refused. We checked with Mr. Rock and he did not object to Mr. Smith’s continued presence. It is important to note that while we were consulting Mr. Rock, Mr. Smith did not make any slapping gestures in Mr. Rock’s direction. Mr. Smith also reassured us that there would be no more slapping whatsoever. “Done with the slapping for the night,” he said.

We wanted him to swear to this, but Mr. Rock intervened, saying that Mr. Smith had done enough swearing already.

We realized our mistake when Mr. Smith won the “best actor” award and used his acceptance speech to justify his actions. He received a standing ovation from the audience in the theater, which sent the wrong message to the audience at home. Slapping should never be rewarded with clapping.

Mr. Smith has since apologized for his actions and resigned from the Academy. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take disciplinary action against him. We are waiting to hear from Mr. Rock on how to proceed.

Melvin Durai is an Indiana-based writer and humorist, author of the humorous novel “Bala Takes the Plunge.” A native of India, he grew up in Zambia and has lived in North America since the early 1980s.

Short URL: