So, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to walk my 6-year-old to school every morning and every morning we recite his “rules of engagement” for 1st grade:
- Follow instructions the first time.
- Listen to your teacher.
- When your teacher is talking, what are you doing? Listening.
- Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can’t hurt you.
- (and finally) Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
Seriously, this is what we talk about among other things as I walk him to school. They are actually rules that we got from the daycare my kids went to over 20 years ago. (Big ups to Young Scholars Academy Houston!) 5 simple rules that a 6-year-old can follow. So please tell me how is it that a grown man can’t follow the last two on the most important night of his life on the biggest stage in the world?
Of course, I’m talking about the Will Smith/Chris Rock Thwack In The Theater. The Doink in the Dolby. The Clobber at the Oscars. I just had a few thoughts I had to get off my mind about this utter nonsense over a joke.
First off, I think Will and Jada might have lost the plot. They are 2 huge stars who are tremendously rich. The role of a comedian is to bring them down a peg to keep them even-keeled. My feeling is somehow they forgot that on the way to the Dolby Theater.
Don Rickles made a living off of just this type of humor and let me tell you HE WAS BRUTAL! And everyone in Hollywood loved him. IT WAS AN HONOR TO BE ROASTED BY DON RICKLES! The man roasted Frank Sinatra AND the Mob and never got slapped! Will and Jada should be honored that Chris Rock paid any attention to them at all. My feeling is that they are such narcissists (based on their actions Sunday) that if Rock had not mentioned them they would have been upset too. Maybe not slap a grown man in his face mad, but upset nonetheless.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am sure looking back, Rock would have not even looked over at the couple, but he did and initially, just Jada did not take it well. She was totally fine with the Regina Hall “open marriage” joke, but Rock “went too far” I assume? Or is it that Will, at least, knows not to strike a woman? In any case, the GI Jane joke was seemingly a bridge too far, even though Will initially laughed. I guess at that moment he actually had his wits about him to play the game, his wife however was not having it. Even though just a week ago she posted a Tik Tok about how she “didn’t give 2 craps about what people feel about this bald head of mine”?
Times change, people change, I guess?
Here is an uncensored look at the whole disaster.
Quite frankly, the joke compared her to Demi Moore, who at the time GI Jane came out in 1997 was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. That should be quite a compliment for a woman in her 50’s to be compared to a 35-year-old, super hot, super fit Demi Moore. Jada is all that bit striking and more so at her current age and WITH the bald head. Also, the joke assumes she is working which after being the 7th bill in the first Bad Moms movie, and not invited back for the sequel, should feel pretty good.
I do hear a lot about the joke being one that “punches down” because Jada is suffering from alopecia and that Rock should have known that, but what if he didn’t? I didn’t know that. To assume Rock is running around looking at everyone’s med chart and/or social media is ridiculous and again narcissistic. And oh, yeah, Jada has been known to go to awards shows with short hair as far back as 1995. Maybe the joke came from the place of a comedian and supposed friend thinking his friends were good-natured and could take it.
Here’s a picture of the happy couple at the Devil in a Blue Dress premiere in 1995. Please note the short hair style.
Besides, isn’t Jada a “Bad Ass Boss Bitch”? At least that’s the persona that she projects and I think that is good for her. I wish more women would adopt that stance because it’s the shrinking violet women that are transporting us as a society directly into a modern-day The Handmaid’s Tale. Women are strong, competent beings that don’t need to be coddled like delicate little flowers and don’t need a man to handle their business. They can give birth for god’s sake. (I’m sure there is not a man on the planet that wants any of that pregnancy smoke.) So why the damsel in distress act at the Oscars that sparked her man to go and bully another man on the international stage is truly dumbfounding to me and honestly beneath her. She has been through and heard much, much worse (again, see Regina Hall joke) about her, about her kids, about her marriage. Why now? Why Chris? Did she have a flashback and think that it was 1996 on the set of The Nutty Professor and she is filming the scene where Eddie Murphy beats up a comedian played by Dave Chappelle?
Chris Rock was doing a job and what Chris Rock has done for over 30 years. LITERALLY, Will Smith came to Chris’ job and slapped the mic out of his hand! Imagine someone coming to your job and slapping you for a curt email. And what was he thinking anyway? Was it because Chris is a slight guy and Will feels he could smack him without repercussions. Chris and I are about the same size, so I know how it plays out. Chris Rock is a smaller guy, and since he is black Will feels he should hold him and Jada with reverence, beyond reproach. “We’re Black royalty! No one black will dare make fun of us!” I guess Will and Jada forgot, Chris Rock is and has been an equal opportunity offender.
Plus, if she was so hurt wouldn’t it have made more sense for Will to sit there and comfort his wife rather than running up there to slap a man then cursing him out in front of God (Anthony Hopkins, maybe? He did play Odin.) and everyone? He could have gone backstage to handle it like a gentleman but to slap him in public is some Al Bundy caveman nonsense. Also, this whole incident takes any sympathy away from Jada’s ailment. People don’t even care what she has now, they just love the drama. Had The Oscars played the regular template, we would have a prime-time special with the Smiths where they discuss his historic Oscar win and what it means for African-Americans, Chris’ “cruel” joke about Jada’s hair, and how they are helping to bring awareness to Jada's issue, and the big happy Smith family. Instead, we are getting all types of think pieces and commentary excusing Will’s behavior, excusing Rock’s joke, “Is slapping someone all right in this instance?”, etc., etc.
I’ll tell you one thing that isn’t being discussed because we are all talking about Will and Jada’s reaction to a hair joke, which she said wasn’t an issue because of the “2 craps” but apparently is because she was so upset that her husband slapped a man for making a throwaway joke about it. Anyway, Rock has recently come out and discussed his trauma from being beaten up every day of his life by, you guessed it, bullies. He has discussed his journey and therapy, but I guess Will and Jada didn’t know about that. By the way, how is Chris doing? Something like this can be quite a setback and I don’t hear anyone checking up on him, but I did see we are hugging and giving a standing o for a guy that smacked a trauma survivor on live tv. Bravo Hollywood, bravo! (In all fairness maybe they were all scared they would get smacked too…) Also, Chris Rock should be praised for how he handled the whole thing. He was a true professional and should be lauded as such.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of bullies so my tenuous relationship with Will Smith movies for all intents and purposes is over. I like his movies, sometimes. For example, King Richard is a great movie and he deserved his award for Best Actor. Amazing job. But I don’t LOVE Will Smith movies. He’s not in any tentpole franchises where if I miss one then I don’t understand the series anymore. There is no Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Wallace and Gromit Universe Will Smith is involved in that compels me to have to see his face. What? Is there something I just have to see in the Shark Tale Universe? Are The Bad Boys movies are gonna change my life somehow? The Men In Black Universe has moved on so I’m out. Ask Mel Gibson how many times I’ve seen him in anything since his infamous, “Are you a Jew”/“Sugar-Tits” incident.
Oscar night is a night celebrating the hard work and excellence of people who are trying to simply entertain and inform us. It's a bit self-congratulatory, sure, but it's cool to see because of our collective knowledge and love for the movies. Will’s “act” also took away from that. And it was shaping up to be a great night too. Diversity was on full display in the most positive of ways. We need people to see that right now. This country, hell, this world is changing and there is a bigger swath of people than we think out there that are not happy about it. Do you think the rise of Neo-Nazis is a coincidence?
His actions took away from the Williams Sisters’ triumph. So now rather than people praising and pointing to the beauty of the diversity that was on glorious full display, or the perseverance and fortitude of the Williams family, they are all talking about Will Smith’s barbarous behavior. Not to mention, Will stole fellow Philly native, QuestLove's shine. He happened to winBest Documentary for the excellent film Summer of Soul right before Will decided to go 15th century Viscount after his honor was besmirched.
To be fair, some are actually praising what he did, hitting another person because of a joke, which just shows how de-evolved we as a society are. How are we living in a modern society where some praise toxic masculinity while endorsing the myth of the weak female who needs a man to protect her? We should be past this, but here we are.
But don't get it twisted, even though he won Best Actor this year, Will Smith did lose. He lost his dignity. He behaved like a huge jackass and schoolyard bully and sadly it’s what he will be remembered for. It’s particularly sad because he, and Jada for that matter, have been prime examples of Black Excellence for over 30 years. He, especially, has proved that people of color can be bankable, top-billed, in-demand movie stars. And like that, it evaporated with one solitary slap… oh yeah, and that terrible, self-aggrandizing, self-serving, crying, spitting (in the days of COVID, yikes!) acceptance speech. I mean WHAT. WAS. THAT!?! It was a pitiful display that even had the Williams Sisters nervous and uncomfortable and they are THE WILLIAMS SISTERS! They are never nervous or uncomfortable! Justifying slapping Rock by saying he was “protecting” people, or characterizing himself as some saintly figure who did what he had to do, or worse yet comparing what he did to Richard Williams himself? Naw, playboy, you were wrong, plain and simple. What you did was express some misplaced, deep-seated anger because your home life is sketchy or the pressure finally got to you, or who knows what.
Frankly, this incident does show that everyone, even Will Smith, has a breaking point and needs help sometimes. Unfortunately, Will broke on what may be the most important and public night of his career and I personally hope he seeks the help that he possibly needs. In fact, I hope everyone gets the counseling and help that they need in this situation. Jada is obviously having issues with hair loss which is not a small thing at all with women. Chris' bullying trauma is also very serious and was probably made worse by the Oscar night debacle. It is a mental health nightmare all around and if anything good does come out of it hopefully it will encourage more people to seek treatment.
I was honestly a bit traumatized watching it and I don’t know any of the players involved personally. I can imagine for some it is traumatizing watching people publicly coddle a bully too. It showed a perverse Hollywood hierarchy where high power bullies are able to thrive while their victims are marginalized, discarded or both and it was sickening. “He made you do it, Will.” “It was his fault, Will, he said words.” “You had to do what you had to do, Will.” “Way to stand up for your wife!” It was just proof that the mentality before the "Me Too" movement is still alive and well in Tinseltown.
And I know Will apologized to everyone for his behavior and that he is “a work in progress,” yadda, yadda, yadda but it should not have gotten that far. We should be celebrating Will's historic win for a tremendous job. Instead, we are discussing how he can't control his anger or keep his hands to himself, concepts so simple that even a 6-year-old gets it.
To quote DJ Khalid, Will, “Congratulations, you played yourself.”
P.P.S. But, on the other hand, it did undermine the coverage and reflection of his untimely passing. Damnit! This whole slap situation really sucks!