#EMBA27 Will Smith and Chris Rock debacle

Malobi Ogbechie Written by Malobi Ogbechie · 1 min read >

If you don’t live under a rock, you would have probably heard of the incident that occurred between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars in late March 2022. It all happened so quickly and the entire world was shocked by Will Smith’s behaviour. The incident began when Chris Rock decided to make a joke at Jada, Will Smith’s wife’s, expense. Chris had just done a round of funny and entertaining jokes aimed at the different celebrities in the audience. Everyone seemed to take it well until Chris made a comment about Jada playing in a potential G.I Jane 2 movie. I would like to explain the joke quickly here. G.I Jane is a spinoff of the G.I Joe movie franchise and the main character is a female with a bald head. Chris made this joke because Jada had a bald hairstyle.

Initially, Will Smith laughed at the joke. Then he turned to his wife who seemed to be upset by the joke. Shortly after, Will Smith stormed the stage and slapped Chris Rock square in the face, and walked back to his seat. Once seated, Will Smith screamed ‘Get my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth’. Will Smith did not say this once but twice. As soon as those words were said, everyone could tell it was not a joke and there was so much tension in the room you could cut it with a knife. Chris didn’t react. He composed himself, cracked a joke, and kept the show going. It was one of the best exercises in self-restraint I have seen in my life. If Chris Rock had reacted with violence, the whole incident would have gone south very quickly.

Bizarrely, after this incident, the show went on and Will Smith won an award for best actor. He made a speech, was applauded, and got a standing ovation. The reaction showed how insane and deluded Hollywood society is today. The fact that Will Smith would get a standing ovation after such a disrespectful display of arrogance and violence, bothers me to this day.

I guess now would be a good time to explain why the joke was so offensive. Jada is currently going through alopecia. Alopecia Areata to be exact is a hair loss condition sometimes caused by stress. A lot of the people that believe Will Smith is justified to have acted in the way he did, believe Chris Rock knew about Jada’s condition. Firstly, that is an assumption. Secondly, even if he knew, there are better ways to handle this type of situation. He could have dealt with it man to man. He could have gone to social media to voice his concerns. He could have even used his award speech to highlight the issue. Violence should never be your first option because everybody loses.

It is also worth mentioning that it is Chris Rock’s job to make fun of people. That is literally what he is paid to do. If we start attacking comedians when we are offended by jokes, comedians will be too afraid to speak. This will result in our last bastion of free speech being destroyed.

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