The slap heard around the world

Will Smith’s assault on comedian Chris Rock overshadowed a number of historic events at the Oscars last month.


Photo courtesy of (AFP via Getty Images)

Actor Will Smith slaps comedian Chris Rock onstage during the Oscars on March 27.

Sophie Shram, Arts & Culture Editor

 The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, is an event held every year to connect millions of people in the world of motion pictures and reward their hard workers in the industry. This year, the Oscars was watched by millions of people not only to see their favorite celebrities’ outfits or what awards were won, but because of a slap that will go down in history. 

On March 27, actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. The comedian’s statement that her shaved haircut was reminiscent of the iconic character G.I. Jane did not entertain either Smith that night. Since 2018, Pinkett-Smith has been vocal about her hair loss as a result of Alopecia.

Rock commented, “Jada, GI Jane 2, I can’t wait to see it,” to which Pinkett-Smith appeared visibly annoyed, thus leading Smith to take the stage and slap Rock across the face. Rock attempted to dismiss the experience stating, “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me.” 

Smith in turn responded by dropping an f-bomb stating,  “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth.”

Days later, Smith faced the repercussions of his impulsive actions by resigning from the Motion Picture Academy. Although he can still be nominated for and win future Oscars, he will have no voice in what films can be nominated or will go on to win in the future.

In addition, Smith publicly apologized to Rock through instagram stating how his behavior was “unacceptable” and “inexcusable.” He included how he “reacted emotionally” to the joke aimed at his wife’s medical condition. Smith additionally formally apologized to the Academy when he won the award for Best Actor and Best Picture. 

There are many mixed feelings surrounding the events that took place that night. Some fans of the Smith’s believed Smith was in the right to shut down an insensitive joke about a medical condition, while others believe he took it too far and Rock should press assault charges.

Then there is a third opinion, that of senior Lauren Daw who believes that “people are making a big deal out of nothing.”

“It was a slap, get over it. Last week in the halls I saw two boys slap each other and then move on, you don’t see them pressing charges. Will shouldn’t have done it, but it’s already happened, move on,” she said.

As Daw mentioned, many people are focussing on such a small moment out of the entire event. There were many firsts at the Oscars, such as Samuel L. Jackson receiving his first ever Oscar. The honor of presenting the honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement was given to Jackson by longtime friend Denzel Washington in an untelevised ceremony. 

The 2022 Oscars will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. No one ever thought physical assault would occur at such a prestigious event, however, it was a night of firsts for everyone. The slap has caused many memes to be produced and sparked conversations about what jokes are “too far.” This moment was a much needed reality check for some that celebrities are also human and that they make mistakes.