What was the incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars?

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On another night that will go down in Oscars history, Will Smith and Chris Rock had a run-in in the middle of the ceremony .

Chris Rock and Will Smith

Photo: Oscars 2022

LatinAmerican Post | Yolanda González Madrid

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Leer en español: ¿A qué se debió el incidente entre Will Smith y Chris Rock en los Óscar?

There is no Oscar gala that does not have a tense or uncomfortable situation that ends up overshadowing the ceremony itself. Beyond the prestige and what it means for the film industry, the Academy Awards throughout its history have been marked by controversies, scandals and controversies, where rejected awards, misplaced speeches, racism and discrimination stand out. Unfortunately, this 2022 edition saw a new shameful chapter starring Will Smith and Chris Rock. What happened?

As has been customary in the Oscar ceremony, the humorous touch must always be present. Knowing the formal atmosphere and that it is also an awards ceremony, the presenters on duty show off their charisma to get some laughs from those present and viewers and thus try to alleviate tensions. Obviously, everything must have a limit and more so in these times where violence seems to be on the surface. Not everyone tolerates the so-called black humor and that is why the consequences will not always be positive.

The 94th Academy Awards was set to be another regular show, without many surprises in terms of the winners of the statuettes. However, midway through the ceremony, the comedians' sometimes heavy sense of humor was taken out of context. At the time of presenting a category, Chris Rock, who had a brief episode of racism with a joke at the 2015 Oscars, made a joke about the baldness of Jada Pinkett Smith -Will Smith's wife- saying that he was preparing for a sequel from the film GI Jane (which is about a female soldier who shaves her hair). What was wrong there?

For those who do not know, some time ago Jada Pinkett Smith publicly confessed that she suffers from alopecia, a disease that consists of hair loss. Although it was all laughs at first, when Chris used that detail as a joke, it did not bring good consequences. Will got up from his chair and went straight to the stage to slap the comedian in front of everyone and in the middle of the live broadcast. The actor returned to his place and from there he angrily yelled at him not to mention his wife again. Subsequently, the atmosphere was filled with confusion and was preceded by some nervous laughter after a jocular comment from Chris.

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Will Smith: A familiar and charismatic image

When we talk about Will Smith, the first thing that comes to mind is the charisma that the actor exudes. From his beginnings in the film industry until recent days, we have witnessed his acting growth, which has gone hand in hand with his family side. Even over time we have seen him off the screen as a devoted father, a dedicated husband and a happy person who enjoys the small gifts of life. His public image has made him a model actor who does whatever it takes for his family, but how will this new episode affect him?

After the incident with Chris Rock at the Oscars, doubts have begun to arise about the true face behind him. Certainly, most people have condemned this violent attitude, but in reality everything has its explanation and for Will family abuse is not justifiable under any circumstances. In a chapter of his autobiography "Will", published in 2021, the actor recounts episodes of violence that his father committed against his mother when he was just a child. As a result, he not only grew up traumatized by that image of abuse, but also by his own lack of action.

And it is that although his actions have not been adequate, the memories of his childhood and that impotence of not having reacted at the time prompted him to defend his wife at any cost. Minutes after the unfortunate episode, Will picked up his Oscar for Best Actor in the film "King Richard", where he plays a father who is called to be the protector of his family in an environment full of classism and racism.

"I know to do what we do you have to be able to take abuse, and people saying crazy things about you and people disrespecting you, and you have to smile and pretend it's okay. But love makes you do crazy things. (...) I have been called to protect my people, to be a river for my people. To be in show business you have to put up with insults," Will said through tears at the time of his speech. Also, it should be noted that the actor apologized to both the Academy and his fellow nominees for the incident.

Finally, that an event of this magnitude has been televised is just another embarrassing anecdote in the history of the Oscar Awards. Very probably this edition has set a precedent for future ceremonies, where beyond the Academy has statutes and codes of conduct, now it's time to look at the jokes of presenters and comedians and thus begin to wonder how far the limits of humor go.