Translated From: For Will Smith, the damage has already been done.
Discovered on: 2022-03-30 09:17:33
Late night hosts mock Will Smith’s moment at the Oscars 1:30
Publisher’s note: CNN Media Analyst Bill Carter covered television for The New York Times for 25 years. He has written four books on television, including The Late Shift and The War for Late Night. The opinions expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author.
(CNN) — While Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock and the Academy on Tuesday for the slap heard around the world, it doesn’t detract from the stupidity of his actions or greatly minimize the damage he has caused.
Smith could have done a few different things at the Academy Awards ceremony after Rock made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith:
She could have taken Rock’s line, felt it sting, then narrowed her eyes, shook her head ominously, and stayed in her seat.
He could have walked up to Pinkett-Smith, taken her hand and leaned in to whisper in her ear, “This guy is a petty jerk and I’m going to tell the world. You are beautiful, tonight and always.”
He could have bided his time, knowing that he could be about to reach the peak of his acting career by winning Best Actor for his role in “King Richard” and that he could soon have the biggest platform in the world to say what i wanted to say. And then he could have graciously accepted his award and included just a scathing mention like: “To Richard Williams his family was everything; to me, mine is. My wife is beautiful and anyone who tries to make fun of her, even in a supposed joke is below contempt.”
Or, while accepting his award, he could have skipped over any comment on the joke and instead delivered the appreciative and touching remarks he had prepared; and then walking into the newsroom and telling the world that his wife had a health reason for wearing her hair like that, and that she shouldn’t be the subject of a cheap, nasty joke. “As for Chris Rock, that guy mistakes cruelty for humor and I want nothing to do with him.”
Will Smith take away the Oscar? Whoopi Goldberg thinks not 1:01
Instead, of course, Will Smith chose an entirely theatrical and violent route, getting up from his seat, walking purposefully, uninvited, onto the Oscars stage and throwing a slap across Rock’s face, instantly turning a big production. television, the biggest night of the year for moviemaking and the celebration of the life’s work of dozens of winners (and nominees), in a “hey-look at me” moment destined to be all anyone would talk about or remember .
He then turned his acceptance speech into more “look at me” theatrics, seeking to justify an ugly act of violence as a form of noble family values, even saying, “Love will make you do crazy things.”
A few seconds after the slap, Rock announced that Questlove had won an Oscar for his extraordinary documentary, “Summer of Soul.” How much did Smith’s toxic display diminish the momentum for Questlove? While he seemed suitably moved to receive the Oscar, the room still seemed a bit stunned.
To what extent did Will Smith’s actions unfairly overshadow the moving words of winners like Ariana DeBose (Best Supporting Actress), Jane Campion (Best Director), Sian Heder (Best Adapted Screenplay) and Troy Kotsur (Best Supporting Actor), all of whom might never experience such a night again in their lives? What right did Smith have to take their attention away from them?
Smith, and perhaps the people who depend on the 10% of big payouts from the movies he stars in, came to their senses less than 24 hours after the slap. Smith offered a personal apology to Rock, the Academy, and everyone else who was swept up in the gratuitous attention paid to that unpleasant moment.
But much of the damage has already been done, and Will Smith’s mea culpa will do little to minimize it.
You won’t be able to undo the disturbing distraction you injected into the event. And you may not be invited to the ceremony next year. There may be some other damage to his career, though in Hollywood, even outcast stars still get a few offers (look at Mel Gibson). Generally speaking, winning an Oscar for Best Actor sends a movie career to new heights, not hibernation. His apology will surely help heal the self-inflicted wound.
Still, there are a few others who will potentially be affected by that vivid moment of showbiz violence. Comedians, politicians, or anyone else who dares to stand in front of crowds and challenge the famous or the powerful may now be more concerned than ever about facing physical abuse.
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel spoke for many when he said on The Bill Simmons Podcast, “Was there anyone in the world who didn’t like Will Smith an hour ago? Hardly anyone, right? And now he doesn’t have a single comedian friend, that It is safe”.
But will the slap have any lasting impact? Could it tarnish the image of the Oscars or the Academy? That seems unlikely, because the Oscars have already crashed as a cultural event in the minds of most of the public. Viewership ratings for the Sunday night ceremony soared 56% above last year’s figure: 15.3 million people watched, versus 9.8 million for the disastrous, masked, hostless and no fun 2021 edition. But this was still the second lowest figure in Oscar history.
So the show’s return still has a long way to go before it can even come close to an average NFL midseason game. (NFL games averaged 17.1 million viewers last season.)
For that reason, perhaps the Rock vs. Smith fight could spark a little more interest next year. Perhaps Rock could even be invited as a host.
Aside from maybe some lingering pain in his left cheek, Rock seems to have come out of the incident okay, maybe even more than okay. Ticket sales for his stand-up tour appear to be on the upswing, and he will perform Wednesday night in Boston.
For one thing, you’re going to have new material for your act; on the other, ticket sales…