Actor Will Smith has come out to publicly apologize to Chris Rock for slapping him over the joke he made about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. The moment has garnered reactions from the Academy Awards and prominent figures including the father of Venus & Serena Williams, whom Smith depicted in his Best Actor-winning role. What’s telling is the grace and empathy being shown to Smith by the Hip-Hop community.
Actor Will Smith has come out to apologize to Chris Rock after his physical reaction at the Academy Awards in which he slapped the comedian in defense of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Will released a statement that said, “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at the Academy awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense is 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 continued, “I would like to publicly apologize to you Chris, I was out of line and 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.
The Best Actor Oscar winner concluded by saying, “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 strained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us, I am a working progress.”
Meanwhile, the Academy Awards released a statement yesterday afternoon. It said, “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct, and California law.”
Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams whom Smith depicted in his Oscar-winning King Richard performance, issued a statement via his son, Chavoita LeSane, that said, “We don’t know all the details of what happened, but we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”
Jada Pinkett issued a short reply with an image on her Twitter that read, “This is a time for healing and I’m here for it.”
The responses to the slap have been mixed and some entirely overblown and outrageous, notably one from shock jock Howard Stern who compared Smith to Donald Trump.
Radio personality Howard Stern gave his opinion on the incident while on his SiriusXM show. “The first thing I said to myself was, what the fuck is going on, is this a bit?” Stern said. “Because where is security? This is a live television event, not one person came out because he’s Will Smith.”
Stern went further and even compared Smith’s actions to former President Donald Trump saying, “This is how Trump gets away with shit, they are the same guy. He decided he was going to take matters into his own hands, at a time when the world is at war. Bad timing, man. I mean just calm your fucking ass down.”
The hip-hop community has responded in force, chiming in with reactions from Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim, Cardi B, Diddy, and more. What’s interesting is the stark difference between responses from individuals in the culture, who have shown more forgiveness and empathy towards Will Smith’s stumble from grace.
Diddy tweeted, “Move on with love” in response to the ending of the short beef.
Coi Leray called Will Smith her “hero” followed by a crown emoji.
Nicki Minaj, who has experienced her own vilification in the media, spoke from personal experience about the struggle her own husband faces saying, “The husband gets a front row seat to his wife’s pain… he’s the 1 consoling her… drying her tears behind closed doors when those cameras go off. Social media has made ppl feel that these “husbands” won’t ever run into them in real life.” Minaj continued, showing empathy for Will Smith saying, “You just got to witness in real time what happens in a man’s soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a “little joke” at her expense. This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y’all seeing the joke he’s seeing her pain.”
Cardi B referenced how the struggle gets harder the higher one climbs, saying: “At your highest moment …be careful that’s when the devil tries to come for you.”
Will Smith made history twice at the 94th Academy Awards and breathed life into the floundering awards show with a shocking slap that has had the world talking about the Oscars non-stop.
The planners of the 2022 Oscars broadcast had their fingers crossed that this year would be the turning point for the award show that had been limping every year into irrelevance with declining ratings and viewership. The show had 3 hosts – Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes – along with a pretty diverse nominee lineup, hoping to put an end to the #oscarssowhite hashtag. Even Beyonce performed. But it was Will Smith’s impromptu slap of Chris Rock that ultimately turned heads and brought eyes and relevance to the show.