OPINION: Will Smith should not have slapped Chris Rock, reputation damaged and rightfully so

The 94th Academy Awards were held on March 27. Will Smith created massive controversy after slapping Chris Rock.

Wiki Commons / Brian Snyder

The 94th Academy Awards were held on March 27. Will Smith created massive controversy after slapping Chris Rock.

The 94th Academy Awards were held on March 27, with winners like “CODA” for Best Picture, Jessica Chastain for Best Actress (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and “Encanto” for Best Animated Feature. However, these films and the recognition of their success was not the main topic of conversation the next day, instead it was a remark Chris Rock made during his presentation.

As a comedian, Rock was making typical and generally light-hearted jokes while presenting. The audience was laughing and enjoying the comedy, but that all changed when Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair condition, alopecia areata. Pinkett Smith spoke out about her alopecia, stating that it has caused her hair to fall out in abundance and led to her decision to shave her head last year.

In the joke, Rock said, “Jada, I love you – I can’t wait for ‘G.I. Jane 2’” in reference to her shaved head and the movie “G.I. Jane.” Pinket Smith can be seen rolling her eyes in response to the joke and her husband Will Smith is seen laughing. Smith walked up to the stage and slapped Rock after the joke was made, stating “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!” 

This elicited a mixed response from viewers and other celebrities: Most believed it was an unnecessary response to a joke made by a comedian. The slap was definitely uncalled for, as there is no place for violence in situations like these. The joke was hurtful and potentially inappropriate, but there are more ways to come to the defense of your wife than resorting to violence. Smith could have simply yelled a remark back to Rock, stating that the joke was inappropriate and offensive and demanding an apology. 

If Smith had responded to Rock in a non-violent manner, even if he was angry, many people would be on his side and see the response as romantic and in support of Pinkett Smith. Rock responded in an eloquent manner, not letting the slap phase him and continuing on with his presentation. Smith later apologized while accepting his Academy Award and on social media, but that doesn’t erase his inappropriate and violent response. This situation could have ended in Smith’s favor if he had thought his response through and not acted on pure emotion. 

It appears that there is quite a bit going on beneath the surface in this situation, including previous tension between Smith and Rock and the Smith’s relationship as a whole. Smith seemed to snap at this joke after a long buildup of tension with Rock and bad publicity regarding his and Pinkett Smith’s relationship. This response seemed very over-dramatic, and Smith definitely could have stood up for his wife without resorting to violence.