The most notable event that occurred at the 2022 Oscars was the physical and verbal altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock. Chris Rock was on stage presenting the Oscar for the documentary feature when he made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He joked, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it. Alright?” Rock continued by saying, “That was a nice one.” Following Jada’s eye roll, Will Smith got up on the stage and slapped Chris Rock. As he returned to his seat Smith yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f-king mouth!”
Will Smith vs Chris Rock
This altercation stunned Oscars viewers, both those in the crowd as well as those watching at home. This joke did not land well with Will Smith due to his wife’s recent alopecia diagnosis; an autoimmune disease that may lead to hair loss.
Will Smith won the award for Best Actor for his role in King Richard where he delivered an emotional speech. Smith stated, “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
The Academy issued a statement regarding the actions of Will Smith. They stated, “The academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the film organization said in a statement. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct, and California law.” The Academy launched a formal review and may take disciplinary actions against Will Smith. These actions may include suspension of his Academy membership or may even go as far as expulsion.
Removing Will Smith
Behind the scenes, there were discussions about removing Will Smith from the theater but because he was favored to win Best Actor it was decided he would stay. Additionally, there was concern about further disruptions during the live broadcast. As the show continued, multiple stars came up to Smith during commercial breaks. The Los Angeles Police Department was aware of the incident but announced that Chris Rock declined to file a report.
Will Smith has since issued an apology statement stating “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
Will Smith has also apologized to the Academy, the Oscars producers, the show’s attendees, and everyone who was watching the altercation on live television.
This incident has been very controversial. There are many who call for Smith to face consequences and many who defended him. Stars expressed anger, fear, disappointment, and disbelief while others deflected questions about the clash. Overall, the “slap heard around the world” made the 2022 Oscars memorable and stole the show.