The Slap That Stunned America

Victoria Cruz ‘22

Special to The Wildcat Word


Risk vs reward. How can we decide the weight of our actions, in a single moment? As we all know by now, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face at the 2022 Oscars. An indisputable iconic moment in television history, thrust Smith into the spotlight, but not for reasons he may have hoped.

     Chris Rock was announcing the winner of the best documentary of the year when he made an unscripted joke towards Jada Smith, Will’s wife, saying: “Jada, I love you, GI Jane II, can’t wait to see you.”

     Jada had decided earlier in the year that she was going to shave her head, as part of an ongoing battle with Alopecia. After seeing the joke upset Jada, WIll decided to walk onto the Oscars stage, during the live broadcast, without saying a word and slap Chris Rock across the face. Crazy right? 

    Will Smith has been in the Hollywood industry for decades. He has spent the majority of his life in the public eye, so how on earth does he not understand that the risk he took was not worth the reward. 

     Now don’t get me wrong, was the joke extremely distasteful and off-putting? Yes. It should be noted that Chris Rock reportedly did not know about Jadas’ condition. However, this does not excuse the joke in the slightest. 

     Chris Rock was part of a documentary called, “Good Hair,” which explores the complex relationship between black women and their hair. His involvement in the documentary makes his jokes even more inexcusable. It’s extremely hypocritical to claim to understand the long-standing history between black women and their hair and then turn around and make a joke that perpetuates all the negativity around it. 

    Smith could have had the exact same effect, without the polarization of it all. Had he simply yelled, or gotten on stage and said something to him, no one would even question supporting him. Even a tweet after the show would put the public against Chris Rock and everyone would be jumping to support the Smiths. 

    The fact is that the slap brought a plethora of negative attention back onto the Smiths, making Rock the victim, not the perpetrator. No one would have even known about the joke, because let’s be real, who even watches the Oscars anymore? 

     Will’s actions set the public against him and brought crazy attention to the situation. Now Jada and the Smiths are being crucified in the media. I get it — the joke was bad, but the way Smith handled the situation made him the villain; not Chris Rock like it should have been. 

     The LAPD reached out to Chris Rock and asked if he would like to press charges. What if he would have said yes? Then what? Go to jail? Get sued? You have a family, you have millions of people who look up to you —  how dare you set a precedent like this? 

     Will Smith, you knew better. You’ve been involved with Hollywood drama for years now and know how the game works. You ruined relationships, images and career opportunities. It is being reported that many projects are dropping Smith and it will cost him over 100+ million dollars. Really dude?

     Why would you undercut all of your success and achievements? Everyone would have been on your side because we see your pain, but escalating it at the rate you did was not right. The reward of hitting him was not worth the risks you now face, which most recently declares that Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards for the next ten years. 

     Also, shoutout Questlove who won the category Rock was announcing, who of course, no one is talking about now.