This is it! The single most unexpected moment in mainstream American television history has hit us (more specifically, Chris Rock) like an asteroid.
It’s almost poetic or even Shakespearean.
Certain events in history require the cliché question: “where were you when….happened?”. JFK’s assassination, 9/11, the O.J verdict and Bronco chase, Elvis dying on the throne.
Some are admittedly more devastating than others, and this one is perhaps the most trivial of all of these moments.
March 27, 2022, is the day that, unbeknownst to all parties involved, would alter Will Smith’s, Chris Rock’s, and the Academy Awards legacy forever.
Following yearly declines in the public interest, the Oscars were desperate for attention. Ratings were record low, controversial winners were crowned, and Hollywood’s perception had drastically worsened.
Equally desperate for a win, enters Will Smith, Philadelphia rapper turned sitcom icon and box office titan. He is coming off a rough patch thanks to consistently poor movie roles and countless scandals including his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s affair with August Alsina.
His casting in “King Richard” the film depicting the Williams sisters’ rise to tennis excellence under their eccentric father, Richard Williams became a high point. The movie was a hit and garnered Smith Oscar buzz for the first time in years. Smith would devote himself to campaigning like a presidential candidate for his shot at winning his very first Academy Award.
On the night of the Oscars host, Chris Rock, a comedy legend in his own right would go off on a typical monologue poking fun at numerous celebrities when his sights settled on the Jada Pinkett Smith who had recently gone bald due to her struggles with alopecia.
Rock, probably unaware of her ailment, mocked her by saying, “Jada, G.I Jane 2, can’t wait to see it!” (G.I Jane was a 1997 movie starring Demi Moore bald in her role).
Will, who originally grinned at the joke, stormed to the stage and slapped Chris Rock. He would proceed to yell: “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” silencing the crowd who potentially thought this was a staged goof that was beautifully performed.
The world’s reaction was mainly pro-Will and Jada. An armada of celebrities co-signed the slap with the general opinion that Will was protecting his wife’s honor and Chris Rock was insensitive for joking about a bald woman.
This stance is utter garbage.
Assaulting a comedian for doing his job under the guise of “protecting his woman” who consistently belittles her husband by embarrassing him verbally and emotionally through adultery, is not a good excuse for this outburst.
A minority of celebrities condemned Will’s actions, most notably Jim Carrey and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who wrote a piece on his website that states: “With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community.”
I must say the sentiment is mutual.
For those lacking class, this slap fiasco was nothing more than a display of manliness however, it proved to be anything but.
Tossing aside the fact that Will was most likely manipulated by his wife to react this way, he had been emasculated countless times by the same woman, so the rhetoric of gaining his manhood back is bull.
If a person looks at manhood in such a shallow way, perhaps it’s a sign of poor understanding of principles that go beyond displaying physical dominance over someone half your size.
The issue goes further than the slap itself.
For generations, Black men are expected to act in this fashion. Macho behavior is nothing one shouldn’t be a way to prove your self-worth or validate your manhood.
The vindictive nature of this behavior is what is causing the thousands of killings Black men have grown a custom to year after year.
Eye for an eye is not a motto that bodes well for the majority, it creates vicious cycles of spiteful acts that destroy lives, and communities suffer from it.
The difference here is that this didn’t take place in Harlem or South Central between gangbangers.
The slap involves a prestigious award show and two A-list celebrities who haven’t been in the “hood” since the late 80s. Sure, a slap isn’t as serious as murder or brutal assault, but the premise remains the same.
The enabling of the Black community is an embarrassment.
Today it’s a slap between two famous people, but on a regular basis, it’s voiceless youths gunned down in the streets.
Maybe people forgot that in 1996 and 1997, two Black A-listers were involved in the same pettiness, except that time it resulted in bloodshed. It may be funny when the Fresh Prince slaps Chris Rock, but when Tupac and Biggie Smalls’ lives were taken, no one made it a laughing matter.
Instead of having to learn the hard way, take the “Slap heard ‘round the world” as a reminder of the types of actions that continue to be enabled if not praised by in Black society every day and begin to change the narrative permanently.