Before I get to “Slapgate” I must vent about “War Criminal Putin” aka “Vlad the Butcher.” Given the Ukrainian genocide he’s implementing I hope one day soon he pays for it, hopefully, at the I.C.C., International Criminal Court. The atrocities of Putin’s troops, slaughtering civilians, bombing maternity hospitals and orphanages, has been described as “worse than Isis.” (May Vlad wind up at the 7th circle of Dante’s Inferno where, suffice it to say, there’s no air conditioning.)
And yet our former President described this sociopath as “smart, savvy and a genius.” He constantly praises Putin for being “a strong leader,” making me wonder what he would have said about Hitler. (“Powerful leader, but dump the mustache?”)
The extraordinary courage of the Ukrainian people and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is inspiring. Zelenskyy made an impassioned video appearance at the Grammys pleading, “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos and sing to the wounded in hospitals.” (As opposed to the Oscars, at the Grammys no one got hit.)
This brings me back to those Oscars which were sickeningly marred by violence. In front of fifteen million TV viewers, and the full house at the Dolby Theater, Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock so hard he practically knocked the taste out of Rock’s mouth.
As a presenter, Rock was about to award the Best Documentary winner. The trouble began when he told an ad lib joke about Jada Pickett Smith who was sitting in the front row with her husband Will. The questionable “GI Jane2” one liner poked fun at Jada’s shaved head. Hopefully Rock was unaware that she suffers from alopecia which causes severe hair loss. In any event, moments later all hell broke loose.
Initially Will Smith laughed at Rock’s wisecrack but Jada was clearly hurt. Seemingly only seconds later, Smith hurriedly walked on stage and proceeded to, as Rock put it, “slap the sh*t out of me.”
Almost everyone thought the attack was a schtick between the two. However, after “the slap seen around the world” and with a smirk on his face, Smith walked back to his seat and twice, shouted to Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!” Immediately the entire room realized they had just witnessed the most insane Oscar moment in its 94 year history. (If it proved Will Smith couldn’t take a joke, it proved Chris Rock could take a punch.)
But, a short time later, things only got more bizarre when Smith won a much deserved Best Actor Oscar. Inexplicably, however, he was given a standing ovation even though the whole world had just seen him commit assault and battery. Despite the slap that violently jerked his head, Rock didn’t press charges. Thus Smith wasn’t removed from the theater, proving, as Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost quipped, “The Academy has a worse concussion protocol than the NFL.”)
Smith’s tearful speech was tough to appreciate when he described himself as “a vessel of love, ” albeit one with a helluva slap. He apologized to everyone except Rock and referred to the horrific thing he had done by quoting his mentor Denzel Washington, “At your highest moment is when the devil will come for you.” Smith tried to sum up the violence by saying, “Love will make you do crazy things.” (SNL’s Michael Che responded,“You know what else would make you do crazy things? Being crazy!)
At an A-list after party and lovingly holding his Oscar, Smith danced the night away. But in the morning the Internet had blown up over what he had done. Saying he was “heartbroken,”Smith posted an apology to Rock and described his behavior as “unacceptable and Inexcusable.”
The following morning, joining Cosby, Weinstein and Polanski, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At a minimum he won’t be able to vote in future Oscar ballots, nor will he receive those coveted DVD movie screeners in the mail. (Which I’m always trying to mooch off my few movie biz friends.)
The Academy’s possible further punishment of Smith will be revealed at a board meeting on April 18. In the meantime, Smith’s many confidants are hopeful he will get therapy. He’s already lost his Netflix contract while “Bad Boys 4” and other “Smith projects” have been put on ice.
Interestingly, Rock revealed he’s been in therapy since 2020 and has shared he was bullied so much that’s why he dropped out of high school. Perhaps it was fortunate Smith, with impulse control issues, attacked Rock who apparently avoids confrontation at all costs. Otherwise God only knows how much worse it could have been.
In closing I wish to honor my beloved sister, Brenda who also watched the Oscars but, more importantly, is celebrating her birthday tomorrow! (I won’t mention her age because I’m not far behind.)
Jack is at: facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org