Yes, that’s actor Will Smith, who later was awarded the Best Actor Oscar, physically battering comedian Chris Rock during the live Academy Awards Broadcast last night. Rock staggered back and said, “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me!” Then Smith returned to his seat and shouted: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”
Rock had made an ill-considered wisecrack about Jada Pinkett, Mrs. Will Smith.
I know the headline is “Res Ipsa Loquitur” (“The thing speaks for itself”) and the photo does, but I’m going to list some ethics observations anyway.
1. I’m sure some will defend Smith. There is no defense. Rock will probably not press charges for various reasons, but he would be justified in doing so.
2. I’ll excuse Rock’s vulgarity after being ambushed, but Smith’s use of “fuck” was a perfect example of the thin veneer of respect for audiences so many stars have. Of course, his vulgarity was so overshadowed by his thuggishness that it will be quickly forgotten.
3. Will Smith, as he has indicated periodically, is an ill-bred jerk. In all the many awards shows and roasts in which a comedian crossed a line of good taste, fairness or civility, no actor or celebrity has ever physically attacked someone on stage. That’s because civilized, reasonable human beings don’t act like that.
4. I recognize that the Oscars were in a bind thanks to Smith’s freak-out, but he should have been ejected from the theater. Have you ever heard of an event where someone came out of the audience, intruded on stage, attacked someone, and was allowed to go back to his seat? Talk about laws and rules being for the “little people”…
5. Smith actually tried to justify his violent outburst in his acceptance speech. He shouldn’t have been permitted to make an acceptance speech. He should also be banned from future Oscar shows for life. I’d kick him out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
6. Nice role models for kids, young African-Americans, and hot-headed males who want an excuse to resort to violence, Hollywood. Well done!
7. We will see what the real priorities of values are for the entertainment industry now. Where does embarrassing your industry, wrecking its traditional big night, and committing a crime of violence on life TV rank along with the other offenses artists have been “cancelled” for?