The most recent Oscars ceremony is possibly one of the first in a long time where the prize winners were not discussed at length. Instead, all the focus is on Will Smith’s rather impulsive decision to come on stage and slap Chris Rock in the face as he presented Best Documentary. What transpired when Will returned to his seat was suppressed for the majority of American listeners.
Was Will Smith’s Slap a Performance?
In the immediate aftermath of the slap, several people pondered whether the entire incident was a failed attempt at humour. The clearest signs that what was happening was true came from the censors, who broadcast almost 30 seconds of silence after Will’s hit landed, and from Chris Rock’s reaction, in which his humorous character crumbled and he appeared really shocked.
Clips from other broadcasts that were not censored revealed that Will had returned to his seat and yelled at the stage multiple times, “Get my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth!” Chris told Will that his remark about Jada Pinkett-Smith, in which he indicated that her shaved head made her an excellent candidate for a G.I. Jane sequel, was “just a joke.”
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
Will believed that the joke was inappropriate because it made fun of his wife’s health condition. Jada suffers alopecia. Chris then proceeded to present the trophy for Best Documentary, and the show continued as if nothing had occurred. Will went on to accept the prize for Best Actor and made a tearful acceptance speech in which he explained that love can sometimes make you do insane things.
Was Will’s Smack Fake?
All indications point to the fact that the slap was entirely genuine, and reporters seated in the Dolby Theater reported that the atmosphere altered visibly when the blow fell. After the event, it appeared like celebrities gathered in front of Will and Jada’s seats, and Denzel Washington approached Will to speak with him. It was evidently a shock to everyone in the room and one that lingered throughout the night.
Even before that slap altered the entire atmosphere of the room, the Academy Awards were a peculiar affair. The programme was painfully re-edited to include eight awards that were given out before the main ceremony began. There were random visits by celebrities with no apparent link to the film industry, and virtually every award went to a predicted recipient.
With the intention of making the programme shorter (it wasn’t) and appealing to a larger range of moviegoers (who probably didn’t watch), the Oscars were stripped of most of their pomp and circumstance in an attempt to make it more concise. All that remained after removing the bombast was celebrity drama. It made for captivating television, but it seemed to encapsulate the mess that the Oscars had become.