Rocked at the Oscars: Smith apologizes after controversial actions

Riley Carroll, Staff Writer

Trigger Warning: Mention of physical violence.

Every year, the Academy Awards show brings speechlessness, surprise and shock; this year was all that and then some. 

Announcing the Oscar winner of the “Best Documentary” award was comedian Chris Rock, who poked fun at Jada Pinkett Smith’s lack of hair with a “G.I. Jane” joke, and was met with a slap to the face from Pinkett Smith’s husband and critically acclaimed actor, Will Smith. Over the past week, the internet was swarmed with informative articles and opinionated social media posts covering Smith’s physical altercation with Rock. Were The Fresh Prince’s actions justified? Were they even real?

In the first few seconds succeeding the joke, Smith seemed to accept it lightheartedly; however, Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes in protest. After observing the less-than-pleased reaction from his wife, Smith approached Rock on stage and struck him across his face

The escalation from comedic stunt to physical contact was primarily rooted in the fact that Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, an incurable condition that causes hair loss. “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,” Smith’s apology post on Instagram stated. 

Some speculated that the entire incident was a publicity stunt; however, Spidey, a YouTuber and behavioral analyst, broke it down in a 33-minute YouTube video. In his analysis, Spidey notes that both Pinkett Smith and Rock’s body language indicated that neither of them were prepared for what was to come. After watching the entire half-hour examination, the idea that this is anything other than an emotional response to defend a spouse is unlikely.

Another potential motive behind the Smiths’ responses is the backlash that many people of color receive for their hair. Not only does their hair texture and type differ greatly from others, but it also serves as another component of racist ideals. Some speculate that the fact that the joke was even made about Pinkett Smith’s lack of hair greatly magnified her disapproval.

Subsequently, the internet has been flooded with nothing but analyses of the night. Fellow Oscar nominees, spectators and fans have highlighted every aspect of the incident, with opinions on topics ranging from the severity of Smith’s behavior to the adversities of the Smiths’ marriage following Pinkett Smith’s acts of adultery. “Will Smith’s marriage [is] open to everything except jokes,” Twitter user, @StrawHatmac, shared in response to the event. 

While some poke fun at the occurrence, countless others demand the Academy take action. Many believe Smith’s Best Actor Oscar should be revoked. The Academy’s only comment in response was posted on Twitter. “The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” they wrote. But, regardless of the forceful way Smith behaved at the awards show, his award was undoubtedly deserved. 

Smith was certainly violent toward Rock and his actions were not completely justifiable, but he should not be robbed of an award he earned unrelated to his outburst for the sake of promoting peace; neither Rock nor Smith did so. After his incredible performance in “King Richard,” the Best Actor Oscar is well deserved. 

Nevertheless, Smith took to Instagram, posting an apology. “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,” Smith wrote.