As Glenn Reynolds often says, “You’re going to need a bigger blog!” But there are many ethics alarms a-ring in this fiasco, so attention must be paid.
Let’s get to it:
1. Will Smith’s apology, posted last night on Instagram:
Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.
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.
I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.
I am a work in progress.
- There are some acts that cannot be apologized for, and this was one. “I’m sorry I hit a fellow performer in the face during the live TV broadcast’ is required pro forma, but nobody should treat it as anything more than that. The conduct can’t be excused or forgiven.
- As Tim LeVier noted in his Comment of the Day yesterday, Smith is obligated to apologize to his victim, Chris Rock, face-to-face. He did not mention Rock in his half-mea culpa while accepting his Oscar. Rock will be professionally obligated to be gracious, of course, when and if that happens.
- Do not think for a second that Smith composed that statement. I wonder how much he paid for it. I would have written him a better one for less. I’m sure.
- I would have, for example, omitted: “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.” Jokes at Jada’s expense are also part of her job: she’s a celebrity, actress and talk show host. Furthermore, the joke was abut her shaved haircut, not her “medical condition”—this advances the dishonest “It’s Chris Rock’s fault” spin the Smith lobby is pushing. Hair loss is a medical condition, but as I wrote yesterday as a target of bald jokes and before that, “losing your hair” jokes since my early 20s, women are not exempt, by their own rules.
Oh, you acted emotionally by dashing up on stage, smacking Rock, and then shouting for him to keep the name of your wife out of his “fucking mouth”? Thanks for that clarification.
- Also nauseating: “my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.” That might have flown when Smith was still “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” (though probably not even then), but he is 53 years old. He is that man he is, and we learned what that kind of man was at the Oscars.
- And “I am a work in progress” is pandering to the faithful, as well as a transparent effort to duck accountability. Yecchh. I’m not taking this from a 53-year-old man. It means, “Gosh, I am still learning not to do that.” Good to know, Will. Stay 50 years away from me and my family
- The fact that Smith happily partied and danced the way the night with his wife after his actions are more indicative of “the man he wants to be” than his professionally ghosted apology.
2. The Academy issued its own statement after initially only saying that it does not condone violence:
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
This is easy: he should be banned from the Oscars and consideration for future awards. Taking away the Oscar he won, as many have suggested, is not justified. He won the award based on his performing skills, not on his pugilistic proclivities. But based on the orientation of the Academy’s members, statue-topplers and historical air-brushers (almost) all—remember, Kevin Spacey was replaced in an already completed movie based on accusations of misconduct—Taking the Oscar wouldn’t rattle too many ethics alarms.
My guess, however, is that “The King’s Pass” will once again prevail, aided by the fact that Smith is black, and he will get some kind of slap on the wrist (“a slap for a slap,’ as the Bible says) and maybe have to be in a movie with Mel Gibson or something.
Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if Alec Baldwin or Sean Penn, hot-head white stars, had attacked Rock?
3. The show’s producer Will Packer has also expanded on his response to the incident after his telling initial tweet after the broadcast, which read. “Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring #Oscars.” Hahaha! I believe the captain of the “Hindenburg” said something similar after the fireball.
Thinking again (but not too ethically) after that attempted brush-off, Packer wrote,
“Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it. I don’t feel the need to elucidate that for you. But I also don’t mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.”
- So now being black excuses clumsy and irresponsible public statements. Good to know. I’ll file that.
- It wasn’t about you, dude.
I have to go have a gagging fit now. Part 2-10 (kidding!) will be along soon.