Oscars Smackdown: Will Smith right to defend his wife; Rock should apologize (Opinion)
Update: Will Smith has Issued an apology. Read about it here
A not so funny thing happened at last night's Academy Awards when Chris Rock, who this year was presenting and not hosting, made a bad joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head.
You can see the incident here, if you haven't already. We also talked about it on air last night you can listen to it On- Demand starting at 1:03:30
Jada Pinkett-Smith announced last year that she shaved her head because she suffers from alopecia, which she discussed in an Instagram post.
"Now at this point, I can only laugh… y'all know I've been struggling with alopecia." She laughs, then goes on to say, "Just all of a sudden, one day…" as she points to a hairless line on her scalp, "So, it just showed up like that. Now, this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So, I thought I'd just share it so y'all not asking any questions."
Pinkett-Smith wasn't laughing last night. You can see the pained expression on her face when she heard the joke while sitting next to her husband Will Smith who was nominated for and won Best Actor for his performance in "King Richard."
On television we see Smith laughing at first, then he walks up to the stage in front of the whole watching world and slaps Rock. The sound cuts out, but not on Australian TV.
This is the risk that comics take when they do what is called "crowd work." It's where you make fun of people in the audience.
Imagine a scene in "Goodfellas" where Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci visit a comedy club and the comedian makes fun of Peschi's "Tommy" from the stage, what do you think would happen. It would be a comic worst nightmare.
Now I'm sure Chris Rock wasn't expecting to be attacked on the stage by Will Smith. But you never know the nerve you hit when you insult someone, especially when you make fun of something they suffer from. I'm guessing Rock didn't know about Jada Pinkett-Smith's condition.
Either way, I think Rock owes the Smiths an apology if for no other reason than he wasn't trying to hurt their feelings, and making fun of someone's condition is wrong. What if the person were undergoing chemo?
I can only imagine the pain the Smith family has gone through dealing with this. You could see it on Jada's face when the joke was made. Smith left Rock out when he apologized to the Academy.
Will tried to be cool about it and laugh at first but his love and devotion to his wife and family just got the better of him. What would you do if someone made fun of someone you love who was suffering from a disease in front of the world? Do you just laugh and take it? Will Smith did for a split second, then he didn't.
In accepting the award for best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in "King Richard," a teary-eyed Smith explained, "Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on for me to do and be in this world."
"I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. And I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you in this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you've gotta be able to smile and pretend that's OK."
For Will Smith, when Chris Rock humiliated his wife on national television, it wasn't OK. Will Smith defended his family, and I for one have no problem with that although he should have found a better way.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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