Chris Rock gets a Will Smith slap at the Oscars

By Scoop
March 29, 2022 · less than 3 min read

Rock joked about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, playing GI Jane 2 – a reference to the actor’s alopecia.  

Between a Rock and a hard place 

The biggest gasp-inducing moment at this year’s Academy Awards had nothing to do with the nominated films. Instead, the drama unfolded in real-time as Chris Rock, presenting the award for best documentary, took a swipe at Jada Pinkett-Smith.  

Rock’s joke about Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia was in poor taste, there’s no doubt. But as he rolled through some good old-fashion roasting – with Benedict Cumberbatch and Javier Bardem also falling victim to his snipes – one audience member didn’t get the joke. Will Smith, who initially looked to be chuckling, stormed onto the stage and landed a huge slap on Rock’s face, with the sound echoing throughout a stunned Dolby Hall in Los Angeles. A short time later, he was to mount the stage again – this time to collect the Best Actor award.  

Trading punchlines for punches 

On a level, many people will back Smith defending the honor of his wife in front of millions. But Chris Rock is a comedian known for edgy jokes, so for him this was all pretty vanilla. Insensitive and unnecessary for sure, but has Smith’s move opened the door for audiences everywhere to storm the stage and get violent when they don’t enjoy being the punchline? 

The big question, though: was it all staged? While the slap delivery appeared pretty contrived, Smith’s rant when he sat back down – “Get my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth!” – cut the huge venue into an eerie silence. Either way, the incident is sure to be the biggest talking point from the night. And this is a shame, when people might otherwise be talking about historic wins for Afro-Latina actor Ariana DeBose or deaf actor Troy Kotsur.  

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