The slap that will go down in the history of the Oscars


Sports Illustrated

A photo captured right as Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.

Publicity stunts. They happen all the time in hopes of catching the internet’s eye to cause an uprising. Whether fabricated or for real, they’re all the more entertaining. 

Most recently, the internet is blowing up after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock across the face at the Oscars on Sunday night. But some questions still remain.

At the award show, Chris Rock cracked a joke surrounding Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her shaved head. He retorts, “Jada, I love you—I can’t wait for GI Jane 2.” The general response was a light, harmless chuckle from the audience—Will Smith included—but prompted Jada to rather roll her eyes. Once Will noticed Jada’s irritation, he did not hesitate in rising from his seat, strutting upstage, and smacking Chris Rock right across the face on live national television. He then returns to his seat and verbally assaults Chris, cussing him out and yelling at him to “keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.”

What caused this temper within the couple was Jada’s diagnosis of Alopecia, causing her to shave her head last year. Although this joke was insensitive and embarrassing for Jada, Will’s behavior was utterly and undeniably shocking, after he was shown on camera laughing at Chris’ joke prior to the onstage assault. 

That same night, Will was awarded the Best Actor award—his first ever Oscars win. In his acceptance speech, Will was seen crying, apologizing to the Academy and his fellow nominees for his reaction moments prior; however, he failed to mention Chris. 

Later on, though, Will issued an apology to Chris, saying “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.” Although this apology is appreciated and deserving, Will’s anger will forever go down in history as erratic. 

The 2022 Oscars will go down in history—not for the gorgeous looks and well-deserving winners, but for the feud in the triangle between Chris Rock and Jada and Will Smith.

I see both sides. Award show hosts—comedians especially—tend to crack jokes targeting people in the audience, but I do think Chris took this one too far. Commenting on somebody’s medical condition in front of the entire country is uncalled for. If I were Jada, I would be rightfully upset as well, but wouldn’t expect my husband to openly assault somebody, quite potentially ruining his public image forever and possibly jeopardizing their invite back to future Oscars. 

Will’s behavior caught everyone off guard, leaving everyone confused by his violent actions. It would have been entirely acceptable to take it up with Chris after the award ceremony—verbally—to express his emotions on behalf of him and his wife, but violence is never the answer.

Was it staged? Maybe. Not many people watch the Oscars anymore; maybe it was a stunt to draw attention to the award show. Because in all honesty, I was oblivious to the fact that the Oscars even happened on Sunday; I only found out about its happenings because of the incident spread all over the news and the school hallways on Monday morning. 

The point remains that Will’s violence and outright over-exaggerated reaction was unethical. It very well may have ruined a plethora of people’s outlooks on an actor that everybody knows and loves for his undeniable talent and kind heart—we don’t know what came over Will Smith amid his outrage, but his wife’s past may have triggered what Will may consider a good deed.

It is outwardly known that Jada cheated on Will, but it is also said that they have an open relationship. Perhaps Will was simply trying to prove his love to Jada by publicly backhanding Chris, although it is a strange way of going about doing so.

The 2022 Oscars will go down in history—not for the gorgeous looks and well-deserving winners, but for the feud in the triangle between Chris Rock, Jada, and Will Smith, and for Will’s smack that could be heard from the whole state of California.