It was a moment that is sure to be talked about for years to come. In the future, you’ll likely hear the phrase, ‘remember that time Will Smith sucker slapped Chris Rock during the Oscars?!’ and you’ll all reminisce about the shocking incident.
Overall, it made headlines around the world. People on Twitter were initially arguing whether the whole slap was staged or not. Others were commenting on why Smith was not arrested for assault. Many actually backed what Smith did as he was just defending his wife from Rock’s insensitive joke. And of course, many celebrities weighed in their thoughts on the whole thing.
In my opinion, both Rock and Smith were in the wrong; although I can be more forgiving towards Rock, as it is a comedian’s job to push the envelope and roast celebrities at these lavish award ceremonies. In case you’re unfamiliar with the whole situation, (how?! Where have you been the last few days?) I’ll break it down.
Rock, while presenting an award made a joke that essentially poked fun at Jada Pinkett Smith (Smith’s wife) and her shaved head. This was rather thoughtless as Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia – a medical condition that causes severe hair loss – and while Pinkett Smith has been open about her experience with the disease, it was extremely cruel for Rock to bring it to everyone’s attention, especially as she can’t really do anything about it.
That’s when Smith, after initially laughing at the joke and then seeing the hurt look on his wife’s face, stormed the stage, slapped Rock, returned to his seat and yelled “keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth!”
Let me be clear: violence is NEVER okay. Yes, the joke was inconsiderate but Smith should never have reacted the way he did. He should have pulled Rock aside after the ceremony and told him why his joke was not acceptable.
Ultimately, both Rock and Smith did something bad, leaving neither as the victor of the altercation. So, who did win? It certainly wasn’t the people who won Oscars – including the first deaf man to win an Oscar, Troy Katsur and the first openly queer woman of colour to win an Oscar, Ariana DeBose – as their incredible wins were sadly overshadowed.
No, the winner was the photographer who captured the moment, Brian Snyder. Snyder is a Boston-based photojournalist, who has won the Boston Press Photographers Association’s Photographer Of The Year award twice.
Surely, Snyder will now win the most coveted and prestigious photojournalism award, the World Press Photo Of The Year, thanks to his photo that captured the moment Smith hit Rock, as his photo has been used by every publication under the sun and has even become a meme.
Snyder told CNN Business that during the moment he wasn’t sure if the slap was staged or not but, regardless, he just clicked away.
“It’s a case of reacting — you see something happening and react.”
Congrats Snyder for being so quick on the trigger during the unexpected moment; you definitely have my vote for Photo Of The Year and you truly are the only winner in the whole Smith & Rock fiasco.