The Slap of the Oscars

Eva Secchiaroli

“I am a work in progress.” was the ending of Will Smith’s apology, which he had posted on Instagram a day after his big slap at the 2022 Oscars. That March 7th, everyone was thrilled for the academy award show. Before the altercation, Chris Rock was announcing the award for Best Documentary Feature at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Since Rock is a comedian, he poked in a few jokes. But clearly, Smith did not enjoy the one about his wife, Jada Pinkett. 

“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2- can’t wait to see it.” Rock teased. G.I. Jane is a film that stars Demi Moore with a shaved head. Rock made this comment because Jada has recently decided to shave her head due to her ongoing struggle with alopecia. Alopecia is the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows, and Pickett has come out about this in recent years.

Smith seemed to have thought the joke was humorous at first, hence his initial smile. However, Pinkett’s loud eye roll changed his entire mood. Then, Smith walked up to Rock from his seat and proceeded to slap him across the face. People worldwide and their colleagues in the crowd were in disbelief, initially thinking it was staged. Gasps filled the audience as Smith walked off the stage. 

As Smith sat down, he continued, “Keep my wife’s name out your [obscenity] mouth!” ABC censored his recorded speech for the US, but, across the world, the raw footage was live and uncensored. Smith then repeated himself. 

Despite Smith’s behavior, Rock stayed remarkably collected and urbane. To lighten the mood, Rock responded, “That was the greatest night in the history of television.” He then continued to announce the award. 

Just moments after the outbreak, Smith was in tears and was comforted by stars Denzel Washington, Tyler Perry, and Bradley Cooper. 

Ironically, forty-three minutes and fifty seconds after the incident, Smith won Best Actor for his role in King Richard. He continued to have a five-minute speech in which he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees. However, he did not mention the man he had slapped across the face not too long before. There are many demanding that the Academy take away Smith’s award in consequence of his actions.

After the ceremony, Smith skipped the governor’s ball, though three hours later he and his entire family appeared at the Vanity Fair party. Subsequently, he flashed his newly won Oscar while partying the rest of the night. 

This event has stormed all social media platforms and strikes daily conversations. Without a doubt, this event is a permanent ‘smack’ in the face for Smith’s reputation.