The Fallout of Slapgate
If you’re somebody like Will Smith, you only get one chance to physically assault someone on a nationally televised world stage. Okay, maybe more than one. Of all the people he could have slapped into next week, why did it have to be Chris Rock, one of America’s favorite class clowns? Why couldn’t he have slapped a political figure bragging about sexual assault or a celebrity with a case of sexist or racist verbal diarrhea?
In an alternate reality, Slapapalooza could have been a glorious jumping off the couch experience for viewers, but instead, it was a head-scratching WTF-just-happened moment that ruined the Oscars. What a painful missed opportunity for Will Smith, the legendary actor that saved the world from monster alien invaders in the blockbuster franchises Independence Day and Men in Black.
The Pursuit of Slappy-ness
Not only did Will Smith slap the wrong person at the wrong time, but of all the roads he could have taken to defend the honor of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, he chose to take the lowest road possible. In a few seconds, he turned the dignified and elegant Academy Awards into an episode of Jerry Springer.
The steak-sized mole on Tiffany Haddish’s face must have been talking when she told People Magazine it was “the most beautiful thing” she’d ever seen. Sure, most would agree that being a strong man and standing up for the woman you love is an admirable act of love and courage.
But it’s a whole ‘nother story when it’s done like a petulant toddler having a tantrum or a schoolyard bully on his period. Will Smith and his slap heard ‘round the world made him look even crazier than Kanye West, who, at his worst, wouldn’t have physically assaulted anyone but instead shouted an awkward bipolar-fueled word salad of political and personal controversies.
The (High) Road Not Taken
Will Smith could have taken the high road and made a joke about Chris Rock’s genitals or his mother. Or trash talked about one of his bad movies like Grown Ups. If he really wanted to hurt a comedian, the first step is not laughing at the joke and then upstaging him with a better joke that gets lots of laughs. But all we got was Will Smith and his lower reptilian brain driving the crazy clown car, resulting in a face slap and then shouting not once, but twice, the not clever or original “Keep my wife’s name out of your @#$%&! mouth,” which veered dangerously close to Maury Povich territory.
Some might say it’s not fair to judge Will Smith as a role model. After all, at the end of the day, he’s just a flawed guy that was impulsive, hot-tempered, and overly protective of his wife. One could argue that you have to separate the man from the art. But when so many people see him as the hero in blockbuster movies, it’s hard to compartmentalize, especially for many of the fans that have looked up to him for years.
As the winner of Best Actor, the most coveted prize of the Academy Awards, how could Will Smith not enjoy an over-the-top celebrity party, dancing to his own tunes and driving around in $100,000 cars? But for many, it’s impossible to separate the slap from the rest of the night. It’s like trying to separate the stink from a fresh turd or the gum from the bottom of a shoe.
Will Smith probably won’t be immediately canceled. It will be a gradual fizzling out of an already less bankable movie star. Some might say that Slapgate is getting blown out of proportion, but try saying that to the people that got slapped or punched by their parents or siblings over a smart-alecky insult and need years of therapy. Seeing Will Smith on TV could now be triggering for some dealing with unresolved trauma, and I’ll bet my blonde highlights that they are not going to be ‘gettin’ jiggy wit it;’ they’re going to change the channel.
The wrong person got the standing ovation and the chance to have a rambling tearful speech about love and family. It shouldn’t have been the hot-headed, narcissistic Will Smith but the brave and incredibly resilient President Zelensky who is risking life and limb to defend Ukraine from the Russians and compel the world to come to his aide.
You can take all the sincerity of Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.Fred Allen, comedian from the Golden Age of American radio
The Legend of Slapper Vance
We might live in the United States of Amnesia, but the aftereffects of this slappy Oscars will linger on for many years, which is ironic considering that Questlove and his Summer of Soul triumph, along with the historic wins of Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur; they’ll all be forgotten unless they work hard to keep up with the Hollywood hustle.
In response to the overwhelming push to suffer consequences for his actions, Will Smith has resigned from the Academy, adding his name to the Bad Boys for Life along with Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, and Harvey Weinstein. Meanwhile, G. I. Jada says it’s time for healing. For super-rich celebrities, that means it’s time for an ultra-luxurious vacation to a private island on a mega yacht with a helipad, a mega dinghy, and gold-plated bidets, all fueled with $6,000 an ounce caviar. He works hard for his money, so you better treat him right, okay?
if you use hollywood as the test tissue for mankind, what could the prognosis be?Pauline Kael, film critic for The New Yorker magazine
The Bad Boy of the Oscars needs time to rest up and also get damage control training from his PR team while they work overtime scheduling his apology tour. Of course, he’s going to make it all about him. Will Smith is going to need lots of energy because he has a long list of people that he owes an apology – for stealing the thunder of Questlove and the Summer of Soul crew, the Williams family, and other Oscar winners that were upstaged by his abhorrent behavior.
While Jada may be angling to milk the slappening for even more attention on her show Red Table Talk, Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame may have said it best: “I’m just so dramatically bored of hearing people’s opinions about it…”
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