Chris Rock and Will Smith

I didn’t watch the Oscars, but I sure heard about the altercation between Chris Rock and Will Smith afterward and tons of opinions on both sides.

Some people believed that Chris Rock was wrong, and others thought that Will Smith was wrong. But this is not a situation of either/or. I think they both were wrong. The writers and producers of the show also hold some responsibility.

These were two selfish men who were only thinking of themselves. While it’s okay to feel angry, it’s not okay to act on it. Will Smith getting up and storming up on the stage and striking Chris Rock was so out of line; it was hard to believe this was happening, and at first, I thought it was a gag.
It was clear that will smith was attempting to “protect” Jada’s honor when she could do that for herself. You have to wonder if this was really about grabbing the attention for himself, either selfishly or trying to be a knight in shining armor. I hate to tell you guys, but those days are long gone. Women CAN stand up for themselves, and this kind of action is more about the man than about their lady. Many men are taught that it is their responsibility to take care of the women in their families. I find this insulting as it indicates we can’t take care of ourselves.

My husband tried this once, and it didn’t go over well. We were on a plane coming home from Hawaii. The plane was crowded, hot, with very little legroom, and my husband was seated behind me. A man in front of me decided he would be more comfortable if he reclined his seat back into my lap. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he could pull his seat up, and he told me to go to hell. My husband decided to come to my rescue without me asking him to (this is one of those consent issues that need to be discussed before), stood up, and yelled, “the lady asked you to pull your seat up!” The man then stood up, and they proceeded to hurl insults at each other, which turned into physical assaults, with me in the middle. I screamed, “both of you sit down; you are acting like children”!!

They were so shocked that a woman was speaking to them like that. I mean, how dare she, doesn’t she know her place?? They both sat down, and the stewardess ran up and asked if she needed to do something, and I told her, no, it’s taken care. My husband got a broken finger out of this and an earful from me. I told him it was insulting that he thought I couldn’t handle the situation myself. What does he think I do all day when he isn’t around me, hide in a corner somewhere? Did he blame himself for this? No, he blamed the airline and vowed never to fly again, and he never did. I talked to the man, and his anger was manifested by grief; his wife had just died, and I told him that our daughter had too.

I read that Will Smith “had a lot of baggage to deal with,” but this was not the time or place to unpack it.

Then there was Chris Rock, who thinks it is okay to make fun of others. I read comments that said, “That’s what comics do.”

I’m sorry, that’s a cop-out, and it’s bullshit.

Making fun of someone else is never acceptable. When others see this being done, it normalizes the behavior, and it tells those others that it’s perfectly fine for them to do the same thing. Why did this joke get okay’d by the writers and producers? Have we learned nothing since the years with Donald Trump???

Jada Pinkett Smith was not happy. It wasn’t the first time that Chris Rock singled her out for something. He must have some problems with her, which should not have been brought out in a public forum.

I know what it’s like to be made fun of because you don’t have any hair. It is not acceptable for any reason, but especially to make a joke on TV at someone else’s expense. At least my hair grew back again. Jada Pinkett Smith’s will not; will she be an acceptable target from now on?

Seeing the video of this event made me sad, and it made me angry. It illustrated that men can do and say whatever they want and get away with it.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

Will Smith apologized, but it still doesn’t make it okay. It doesn’t mean you can behave any way you want as long as you say you’re sorry afterward. At least he acknowledged that he had made a mistake. Where is Chris Rock’s apology? Was this joke on the teleprompter, or was it an adlib?

It’s not okay to make fun of anyone for any reason, not how they look, their age, their skin color, their sexual orientation, their disability. And it’s not okay to react with violence because you have issues.

Comments that I read included:

“As someone who suffered through physical and verbal abuse, I have been much more triggered by people being okay with the “joke.” It is that kind of “joking” that took me to my lowest as a child. Violence is not the answer, but neither is belittling others.”

“It was bullshit that Smith wasn’t escorted out and that he received a standing ovation. Hollywood condoned violence tonight.”

“Here’s how you deal with a joke you think is in bad taste:
• Don’t laugh (Smith was laughing at that joke initially)
• Ask the man to apologize later
• Boo and maybe even yell “Not funny!”

How not to deal with a joke you think is in bad taste:
• Punch the comedian.”

Will anyone learn valuable lessons about this? Probably not. And that makes me the saddest of all.

I just saw this and wanted to add it to my post. It seems I’m on the right wavelength as some other people. I still think that Chris Rock owes Jada Pinkett Smith an apology too and maybe Hollywood can learn something from this… like you don’t have to insult people to be funny. You can see the response from their son after his father’s actions to see what kind of example they set for their children. Bad behavior all the way around. And just because you are rich and famous, it doesn’t make it acceptable.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar writes:

“When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community. That’s a lot to unpack.

Let’s start with the facts: Rock made a reference to Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, as looking like Demi Moore in ‘G.I. Jane,’ in which Moore had shaved her head. Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss. Ok, I can see where the Smiths might not have found that joke funny. But Hollywood awards shows are traditionally a venue where much worse things have been said about celebrities as a means of downplaying the fact that it’s basically a gathering of multimillionaires giving each other awards to boost business so they can make even more money.

The Smiths could have reacted by politely laughing along with the joke or by glowering angrily at Rock. Instead, Smith felt the need to get up in front of his industry peers and millions of people around the world, hit another man, then return to his seat to bellow: ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.’ Twice. Some have romanticized Smith’s actions as that of a loving husband defending his wife. Comedian Tiffany Haddish, who starred in the movie ‘Girls Trip’ with Pinkett Smith, praised Smith’s actions: ‘[F]or me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.’

Actually, it was the opposite. Smith’s slap was also a slap to women. If Rock had physically attacked Pinkett Smith, Smith’s intervention would have been welcome. Or if he’d remained in his seat and yelled his post-slap threat, that would have been unnecessary, but understandable. But by hitting Rock, he announced that his wife was incapable of defending herself—against words. From everything I’d seen of Pinkett Smith over the years, she’s a very capable, tough, smart woman who can single-handedly take on a lame joke at the Academy Awards show. This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor least they swoon from the vapors. If he was really doing it for his wife, and not his own need to prove himself, he might have thought about the negative attention this brought on them, much harsher than the benign joke. That would have been truly defending and respecting her. This ‘women need men to defend them’ is the same justification currently being proclaimed by conservatives passing laws to restrict abortion and the LGBTQ+ community. Worse than the slap was Smith’s tearful, self-serving acceptance speech in which he rambled on about all the women in the movie ‘King Richard’ that he’s protected. Those who protect don’t brag about it in front of 15 million people. They just do it and shut up. You don’t do it as a movie promotion claiming how you’re like the character you just won an award portraying. But, of course, the speech was about justifying his violence. Apparently, so many people need Smith’s protection that occasionally it gets too much and someone needs to be smacked. What is the legacy of Smith’s violence? He’s brought back the Toxic Bro ideal of embracing Kobra Kai teachings of ‘might makes right’ and ‘talk is for losers.’ Let’s not forget that this macho John Wayne philosophy was expressed in two movies in which Wayne spanked grown women to teach them a lesson. Young boys—especially Black boys—watching their movie idol not just hit another man over a joke, but then justify it as him being a superhero-like protector, are now much more prone to follow in his childish footsteps. Perhaps the saddest confirmation of this is the tweet from Smith’s child Jaden: ‘And That’s How We Do It.’ The Black community also takes a direct hit from Smith. One of the main talking points from those supporting the systemic racism in America is characterizing Blacks as more prone to violence and less able to control their emotions. Smith just gave comfort to the enemy by providing them with the perfect optics they were dreaming of. Many will be reinvigorated to continue their campaign to marginalize African Americans and others through voter suppression campaign. As for the damage to show business, Smith’s violence is an implied threat to all comedians who now have to worry that an edgy or insulting joke might be met with violence. Good thing Don Rickles, Bill Burr, or Ricky Gervais weren’t there. As comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted: ‘Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.’ The one bright note is that Chris Rock, clearly stunned, managed to handle the moment with grace and maturity. If only Smith’s acceptance speech had shown similar grace and maturity—and included, instead of self-aggrandizing excuses, a heartfelt apology to Rock.”

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