Chris Rock, the comedian and actor, was presenting an award at the 94th Academy Awards – the prestigious awards ceremony took place today and has just finished – and made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith, wife of Will Smith.
The joke Rock made was that he “couldn’t wait” to see the sequel of G.I Jane, mocking Pinkett Smith’s shaved head but Smith couldn’t see the funny side – probably because Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia; a medical condition that causes hair loss – and so, in response, Smith stormed the stage and hit Rock in the face.
Smith then returned to his seat and Rock exclaimed, “Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me.” Smith then angrily yells from his seat at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out [of] your f**king mouth!”
Rock, a consummate professional, composed himself and responded (after a few moments): “That was the greatest night in the history of television,” and then resumed presenting and announcing the winners of the next award.
At first, some on Twitter believed that it must have been staged but shortly after the incident occurred, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role and actually apologised during his acceptance speech, saying that “Love will make you do crazy things,” and joking, “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
Now Twitter is divided on whether what Smith did was acceptable or not. Some reason that because of Pinkett Smith’s medical condition, Rock’s joke was disrespectful and Smith had every right to ‘defend’ his wife.
On the other hand, the hashtag ‘arrest Will Smith’ is now trending and many Twitter users are calling Smith’s assault completely unacceptable, and Smith then winning an Oscar and receiving a standing ovation for his win, ‘disgusting’.
Others feared what it means for comedy.
MY TAKE: Chris Rock’s joke was offensive and in poor taste. Will Smith had every right to call him out. HOWEVER, comedians should NEVER have to fear violence in response to jokes they make, even bad ones. That’s worse. But hopefully they can apologize to each other afterwards.— Lane🌹 (@laneproctor) March 28, 2022
Damn. Will Smith should be charged. Next year every comedian will decline for fear of offending someone & get assaulted😳😳😳 https://t.co/dbF6SJ5J5p— whyme🇺🇦🌻 (@whymeintheMtns) March 28, 2022
No matter how you look at it, Will Smith disgraced himself tonight. If you don’t agree with a person’s comedy, that’s not how you handle it. Chris Rock, I commend him for how he handled that situation. Comedians will not be silenced by fear or violence. #oscars— Dan Ginn (@danginncreates) March 28, 2022
You can watch the entire altercation between Smith and Rock below: