By Clara Prander ’22
On the night of March 27th the 94th Academy Awards was held. It was, understandably, a very eventful night, but not only due to the anticipation of who would win the awards but also because of another spectacle.
There’s much to unpack about this night, but let’s start with something that definitely wasn’t planned. During the presentation of who would claim the award of best documentary, the presenter Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. He said: “ Jada I love you, GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” What his joke was referring to was the movie G.I Jane starring a bald Demi Moore, someone he thought Mrs. Smith looked like. Jada Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that leads to hair loss, and showed up to the Oscars with a bald head.
The husband of Mrs. Smith, Will Smith did not seem to take the joke well. A few seconds after it was uttered he is seen walking over the stage and then slaps Chris Rock. It was a moment no one was prepared for. For viewers at home, the audio got muted while he was walking back to his seat since some heated words were exchanged. At this moment Rock has said that he will not press charges.
Just 40 minutes after this event happened Will Smith stepped onstage again, but this time to accept an award for Best actor with his role as Richard Williams in the film “King Richard.” This is something that has been criticized since he abused Chris Rock right before. In his speech he tearfully thanked everyone that made it possible, while also apologizing for his actions before. Although he apologized, he never mentioned Rock by name. In his speech he said “I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse and have people talk about you. In this business, you gotta have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and pretend that’s ok.” He ended his speech saying that he hoped the Academy welcomes him back.
After the incident the Academy tweeted this “ The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
What will happen now is unclear. Some rumors are speculating if the Academy will reclaim Will Smith’s Oscar and how that would work. They have strict guidelines in its code of conduct according to The Post. It emphasizes the importance of “upholding the Academy’s values” like “ respect for human dignity”, something that Smith violated. Although this has been the hot topic after the Awards show, it is not yet known what, if any, professional repercussions Smith will face.
For anyone that would like to watch the event in motion, here’s the link.