Additional Morning Thoughts: “Smith Vs. Rock At The Oscars” [Updated]

Last Night, I was shutting down my computer when I saw the Rock-Smith story, and dashed out a post at about 1am. Those were literally immediate reactions, and I knew nothing else about the broadcast except that Smith was allowed to stay, and that he later won the Oscar for Best Actor for a movie I didn’t see and am unlikely to, especially after his behavior last night.

I had some additional thoughts after my first coffee this morning.

  • Some people are suggesting that the episode was staged, even Ann Althouse, an Oscars fan for some reason. Ann needs to get out more. Trust me on this: it wasn’t staged. I am a stage director; I have staged such things. Actors are notoriously terrible at faking contact, and Chris Rock isn’t exactly a professional stunt man. Smith hit him with the flat of his hand, which saves him from broken bones: if it had been staged, it would have been a fist.

Furthermore, what happens near the beginning of any live show vastly influences the audience’s reaction to the whole evening: if the episode was staged, it would have been at the beginning, otherwise there was no point. That bit of ugliness toward the end clouded the ceremonies both for the live audience and the home audience, and especially undermined Smith’s  Best Actor moment. In addition, as Althouse finally convinced herself as she wrote her post, it put Smith’s wife in a bad light as well as the actor, embarrassed Rock, and made no sense except as a temper tantrum (or protective husband grandstanding) by Will Smith. Later, the Academy put out a pro forma statement that it didn’t condone violence, which would have been reasonable coming from anywhere but Hollywood.

  • I hadn’t seen what Jada Pinkett Smith looked like at the Oscars when I wrote the post last night, nor heard exactly what Rock said. She has shaved her head…you know, like me. And Bruce Willis. And the TCM co-host, Jacqueline Stewart. See?

I wrote last night that Rock’s joke had been “ill-considered.” I retract that: he was completely innocent. He saw Smith and his wife sitting in the audience and said, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?” OK, so she has been suffering hair loss—big deal—and has talked about it. So what? She could have worn a wig; shaving your head is a choice for a man, and showing a shaved head is a choice for a woman. Demi Moore was “G.I. Jane,” and looked great. See?

It was a mild joke if not a hilarious one. Will Smith was the lone asshole in this incident.

  • And as someone who has endured his share of Yul Brenner/ Telly Sevalas jokes—yes, and once during an awards show—What hypocrisy from Hollywood! The three female harpies who were designated as co-hosts chant “Gay, gay, gay!” like three-year-olds to mock what a Florida bill isn’t about, and all of that blathering about a historic win by an openly LGTBQ actress (Oh who cares except GLAAD, and why should anyone else?), and all the progressive chest (breast?)-beating over “antitrans” critics, and yet when an actress who chooses a unisex hair-do is kidded about it, her husband goes nuts….and he isn’t even chastised or punished!
  • More (not Moore) on that—but too bad Demi wasn’t at the show—I sympathize with the Academy for not knowing what to do in the seconds it took for Smith to wreck the broadcast. Of course he should have been ejected from the theater, but all these things were going through the producers’ heads, like, “What if his name is read as the winner of Best Actor?” (which it was). No, they didn’t handle it right, but I’ve had time to consider the options, and they did not.
  • What should Smith have done to protest Rock’s harmless joke? He should have walked out, along with his presumably offended wife. (But then he wouldn’t have been present if he won! Priorities, priorities….)
  • I am amazed, but probably shouldn’t be, that the news media is highlighting the Oscar results and the “Gay” chant (morons) rather than “The Slap.” That breach of decorum, professionalism and law is far more newsworthy than the meaningless awards that once again seemed dictated as much by progressive agendas as excellence.
  • The episode won’t kill the Oscars, but should. It ought to be a tipping point. The tinsel is gone. Smith can’t be said to represent all of Hollywood, but these are overwhelmingly petty, vain, over-paid, over-adulated, arrogant, mostly not-too-bright, politically juvenile, narrow-minded creeps who are not worth the public’s time, and certainly not mine.


10 thoughts on “Additional Morning Thoughts: “Smith Vs. Rock At The Oscars” [Updated]

  1. Recently there was an incident of a Michigan basketball coach who placed his fist in the face of another coach after a game. I remember his defense was that he felt threatened and was defending himself. Perhaps Smith was just defending himself as well.

  2. I’ll also put this is the daily ethics variety back, but Squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Sunday tweeted a defense of Will Smith’s slap, saying,

    “”#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults,”Then the Massachusetts Democrat deleted the tweet almost immediately. Luckily Politico caught it. Yes, a member of Congress encouraging violence. In her case, no surprise.

  3. Honestly, I’m more interested in the public reaction than the event itself. People seem to have this immediate need for clear thinking and the next chapter of the story. It’s a problem in our society more commonly referred to as instant gratification. Most of the posts and hot takes are in this vein but with varying objectives.

    The pearl clutchers are the worst. “Why didn’t a police officer go an arrest him?” “Why didn’t the show director eject him?” “Why didn’t security intervene?”

    Police need a complaint. The director needs time. Security aren’t in on the performance and have a tough time knowing reality from fiction particularly when the assaulted party engages with the assaulter and the assaulter casually moves into position.

    It will be interesting to hear from Glenn Wiess the director and any producer about the mental gymnastics they were doing to figure out how to proceed. In the moment, during that commercial break, I’m sure it was “Is everyone cooled down now?” “Can we get through the remainder of the program?” “Am I required to take action?” “What does Chris Rock have to say?”

    It was an unprecedented moment for sure and I guarantee there are some figures having discussions this morning on how to treat this going forward. There will be bright line rules put in place for the future. Everyone has now considered this predicament. Should it happen again, that person will be ejected….and then we’ll get to hear about “double standards” and “hypocrisy”.

    Chris Rock is owed an apology. Thank god Will Smith did not attempt to deliver it last night during his acceptance speech. That’s a personal matter that needs to be done face to face and if in the end all we hear from some PR flack is “Will apologized to Chris privately.” then great, that’s all we can reasonably expect.

    I see reports from LAPD this morning that Chris Rock has declined to press charges and that they are prepared to accept a complaint should he change his mind. Good. At least some people understand process.

    Will Smith has some demons that burden him. Responsibility so great that he feels ready to snap, and we all have gone through the past two years in unique ways. He started the journey to confronting those demons last night, very publicly. It was a human moment. A natural moment. Everyone’s so enthralled with making cheap political points (why is this political?) that they can’t recognize the moment for what it is: a human reckoning with himself and his actions that caused tremendous shame. It would have been easier for Will if he had been ejected. Had I been in his shoes, I might have been grateful to get ejected and go scurry into a corner of the world to hide for many months. What happened to him was a spotlight on a very dark moment.

    Some comments of his speech characterize it as making excuses or justifying actions. That’s not up to him. A person can only relate to others his reasons. Reasons are sometimes valid and rise to the level of an excuse, but it is the aggrieved parties that grant the excuse. If the action is not excused, then we ask if it was justified. ‘Authority’ looks at the scenario and the reasons and decide if the action was justified. Justification is much more difficult because it accepts that some level of harm is ok. In this scenario, the action was neither excusable or justified, so we are left with the stated reason. It seemed to me that Will Smith, during his speech, accepted that his actions were not excusable or justified. He still stated what he could of his reasons to help us to gain a portion of understanding. We are capable of understanding bad actions without lending acceptance of the action. We do it all the time with serial killers. Let’s acknowledge that we can also do it with scenarios like this.

    Will Smith has a steep road ahead if he chooses to continue in this life. Of course, he’s rich enough to call it a day and never have another worry should he choose that path; but if he persists on the hard road, he’ll have to continue his journey of self discovery. He’ll have to make amends with the man he publicly battered. He’ll have to repair his image and suffer memes and mockery for years. At least now when someone makes an off-color joke, the comedian when facing cancel culture can look to the mob and say “Hey, don’t Will Smith me, man!”.

    P.S. It’s been said many times last night on social media, in mostly juvenile ways, that the Oscars isn’t so white now and #OscarsSoBlack was trending. I saw it shared by white people and black people alike. It’s a bit amusing and maybe a little cathartic given this 5 or 6 year journey the Academy has been on since #OscarsSoWhite began trending. Will’s outburst was wildly inappropriate, but it does feel to me that it was maybe the single greatest thing to have happened, precisely when it needed to happen – that we might be at a turning point to move in a positive direction forward.

    Or maybe not – let’s see how badly I get flamed.

  4. “Smith can’t be said to represent all of Hollywood, but these are overwhelmingly petty, vain, over-paid, over-adulated, arrogant, mostly not-too-bright, politically juvenile, narrow-minded creeps who are not worth the public’s time, and certainly not mine.”

    You nailed it!

    I don’t know if you have the stomach, but I follow a lot of pages on Facebook so I can keep up with the latest trends, and on Huffington Post women, there’s a lot of people saying that comedians get away with too much and Chris Rock deserved to be punched. That him being punched will send a message to other comedians to watch themselves. These are all from the left. I’m sure there will be some conservative defenders as well, but for different reasons.

  5. Apparently there exists a rift between the three that goes back a ways; from The Wrap:

    “Rock previously took aim at Jada Pinkett Smith when he hosted the 2016 Oscars, which Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith decided to boycott due to the fact that no actors of color were nominated for the second year in a row. ‘Jada [Pinkett Smith] boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,’ Rock said during his opening monologue of the 88th Academy Awards.

    “The comedian also made a dig at Will Smith while he was at it. ‘It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated,’ Rock said of Smith’s performance in Concussion. ‘It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for ‘Wild Wild West!’ “

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