The global entertainment scene will remember for a long time the 2022 Oscar awards when an earnest man got into trouble in pursuit of his solemn duty of protecting his family.
The Oscar awards imposed a 10-year ban on Smith. His wife pleaded for family healing and promised to make it public in due course.
While you cannot pursue your right of self-expression by interfering with those of another person, a few issues characteristic of the dilemma of the chicken and the egg stand out.
Smith’s reaction to his own action points to a spontaneous action as opposed to any deep-seated hatred for the veteran comedian. If he is to be believed he obviously needs help. So far there is no reason why not to believe him.
What about the sentiments that generated the slap? Was it the first time that the veteran comic was expressing similar or comparable sentiments in public? If so, he must have learned his lesson otherwise it’s time for him to retire from his art.
The veteran comic reaction so far has indicated nothing about what he thinks about the sentiments. He is ‘processing the event and will address them appropriately.’
Legal commentators have pointed to the complexity of any of the parties in building a solid legal case: in the absence of concrete evidence how much do you award for psychological damages such as distress?
Public opinion is divided right through the middle, with Smith’s supporters pointing to his solemn duty of protecting his family.
The value, if any, of Will Smith’s slap is, therefore, in the entertainment value that is provided.
In Africa, the attention that the slap brought to the 2022 Oscar awards is reminiscent of the 2014 awards when Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave was a winner.
Such attention is good for a body that has withered storms to preserve a culture through generations. It has also in the process helped the world to crawl towards the creation of tolerant peoples and societies.
However, the direct victims have remained unattended. A proper diagnosis would involve Will Smith and Chris Rock individually and together and would address fundamental issues as opposed to the symptoms.
The viral clip that circulated online showed Will Smith expertly delivering a perfect slap across the face of Chris Rock. The latter seems to soak it well accompanied it with a comic relief: ‘Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me!’
The laughter generated almost immediately dissonated with Will Smith’s outburst: ‘keep my wife out of your fucking mouth!’
And with that the 2022 Oscar award currency gained value. Laughter was replaced with tears, with Will Smith – who was also receiving his first Oscar in his elaborate career – tearfully apologizing to Rock.
The police explained that, in the absence of anyone pursuing the matter, their hands were tied. Smith and Rock and, by extension their families, went home in tears.