In case you haven’t heard about it, here’s the condensed version of events. First Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinket Smiths shaved head, then everyone laughed including Will Smith, Jada rolled her eyes and twisted her face in a knot, Will stopped laughing, stormed up on stage, hit Chris, walked back to his seat and yelled at Chris using expletives.
Now you’re caught up.
Everyone has been talking about it all over, in the news, on the radio and on social media (of course). I heard a lot of things said about it but the one thing that rang truer than true was written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (yes, the NBA star). I’m really impressed with this guy because not only can he play basketball, but he can also put his thoughts down so eloquently.
“When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community. “
On the awards themselves, he said, “But Hollywood awards shows are traditionally a venue where much worse things have been said about celebrities as a means of downplaying the fact that it’s basically a gathering of multimillionaires giving each other awards to boost business so they can make even more money.” He’s right! It’s rich people vying for the spotlight and looking for their next project.
After the joke was made and the incident occurred, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said things could’ve been handled differently. “The Smiths could have reacted by politely laughing along with the joke or by glowering angrily at Rock. Instead, Smith felt the need to get up in front of his industry peers and millions of people around the world, hit another man, then return to his seat to below: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Twice.” They should have sucked it up and dealt with it later, in private or some sort of statement – they both have publicists and ‘people’ who do all that for them anyway.
For those who romanticized this as what a man should do to defend his woman, he wrote; “
Smith’s slap was also a slap to women. If Rock had physically attacked Pinkett Smith, Smith’s intervention would have been welcome. Or if he’d remained in his seat and yelled his post-slap threat, that would have been unnecessary, but understandable. But by hitting Rock, he announced that his wife was incapable of defending herself—against words. From everything I’d seen of Pinkett Smith over the years, she’s a very capable, tough, smart woman who can single-handedly take on a lame joke at the Academy Awards show.
This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor least they swoon from the vapors. If he was really doing it for his wife, and not his own need to prove himself, he might have thought about the negative attention this brought on them, much harsher than the benign joke. That would have been truly defending and respecting her. This “women need men to defend them” is the same justification currently being proclaimed by conservatives passing laws to restrict abortion and the LGBTQ+ community.”
He also went on to say, “What is the legacy of Smith’s violence? He’s brought back the Toxic Bro ideal of embracing Kobra Kai teachings of “might makes right” and “talk is for losers.” Let’s not forget that this macho John Wayne philosophy was expressed in two movies in which Wayne spanked grown women to teach them a lesson. Young boys—especially Black boys—watching their movie idol not just hit another man over a joke, but then justify it as him being a superhero-like protector, are now much more prone to follow in his childish footsteps. Perhaps the saddest confirmation of this is the tweet from Smith’s child Jaden: “And That’s How We Do It.””
I wish I can add the entire thing on my page but I think it would be better if you click this link and read the whole thing yourself.
Just in case you haven’t seen the video (absolutely everywhere), I’m embedding it below