The Slap Heard Around the World


John Robert , Editor

On March 27, the 94th Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, is designed to commemorate artistic and technical achievement in the film industry. What made the Oscars a little different this year was that the acclaimed actor Will Smith smacked comedian Chris Rock on live television. This moment overshadowed everything else that happened on the night and became the subject of various headlines.

Smith assaulted Rock after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s, shaved head, which is a result of alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss. In the joke, he said, “Jada I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.” In the joke, Rock compared Pinkett Smith’s bald head to “G.I. Jane”, a movie where actress Demi Moore shaved her head. This joke offended Smith to such a high degree he left his seat to slap Rock on stage. After he returned to his seat, Smith yelled,  “Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth,” twice to Rock. Forty minutes later, Smith won a best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” and notably didn’t apologize to Rock.

Rock has made jokes about the Smiths in the past. In 2016, he poked fun at the couple when they boycotted the Oscars. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties,” Rock said during his opening monologue that year. “I wasn’t invited.” Later in that same award show in 2016, Rock made fun of Smith’s previous films. “Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for ‘Concussion,’” Rock said in reference to the 2015 football film Will Smith starred in. “I get it. It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for (the 1999 film) ‘Wild Wild West.’” 

Rock declined to file a police report with the Los Angeles police department. According to Mashable, the LAPD said, “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” LAPD said, “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

The Academy tweeted a response condemning Smith’s actions. “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.”

Smith took to social media to apologize to Rock and the Academy for his actions.