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Will Smith slapped Chris Rock as 15 million people watched — and also some awards were given out… I wish, I really wish that we were only talking about Oscar winners and a somewhat poorly run production today. We are not.
Pop culture history happens in the blink of an eye. Chris Rock joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s short hair (she has alopecia) and Will Smith slapped and then scolded him. Rock and the Smiths have a history, this wasn’t the first time he mocked them the Oscars. Needless to say, the moment was shocking and disturbing—an all-time historic live TV incident perhaps—and then compounded by the 20 minute aftermath and Smith’s subsequent acceptance speech.
Is Chris Rock in the wrong? Making fun of someone’s disease is punching down, mean spirited, and just bad comedy. Rock claims he didn’t know she has alopecia, but that doesn't excuse him entirely.
Meanwhile, Will Smith showed a very ugly side of himself. Violence is never the answer. Had Smith just yelled at Rock, the moment would have been tense but forgivable. Additionally, Smith justifying violence under the guise of “love” is extremely toxic and wrongheaded.
So what’s happening today other than really bad takes on Twitter?
What will happen next to Smith and the Oscars? My guess is that Will Smith will experience very few repercussions from this. Maybe he won’t get invited back next year, but he’ll probably get to keep his Oscar and probably still be a movie star. (Case in point: Smith was seen dancing to his own music at an after-party last night.)
I expect the Oscars to swing back to a very traditional show next year. I could see the Academy combining telecast producer Will Packer’s maligned populist version of the Oscars with the Smith-Rock incident and buttoning up their flagship show as much as possible in 2023. Packer tried his best to enliven things but in the end got royally screwed over by the world’s biggest distraction.
Apple wins the streaming race to Best Picture… And yes awards were given out! I’m very happy CODA won (as I stated I’d be in August of last year). It’s a handmade, feel-good film that deserves the accolades. Ironically, its Best Picture win is also thanks to Apple’s endless cash reserves. Poor Netflix, always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
I will say though, I appreciated how the Academy spread the love around to various movies. Dune, West Side, CODA, Power of the Dog, Tammy Faye, Belfast, Drive My Car, No Time to Die, and King Richard all went home winners in some way or another. 🍎
The Oscars pre-taped 8 awards and still went extra long… It was the longest Oscars since 2018, in fact. Let’s talk about the run of show. Prior to “the Slap,” Will Packer’s show was just fine. Opening with Beyoncé was smart, a few early speeches really hit (Ariana DeBose, Troy Katsur), and the hosts’ humor helped keep things on track. The pre-taped awards were edited in well, if still disrespectful to the artists, and probably didn’t even end up saving that much time. I thought it was clever that Packer used cabaret tables (a holdover from last year) down front. They shortened the walk to the stage — for winners and also angry husbands.
But most of Packer’s populist attempts to enliven and modernize the show (with the goal of gaining viewers) fell flat. The fan-voted top 5 lists were a joke, the music often made no sense, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was a mess, and certain presenters stuck out enormously (sorry Tony Hawk). Then you had Disney and the Academy inserting its agenda with forced movie and museum plugs. Will Packer, like Steven Soderbergh before him, had an impossibly difficult task and did the best he could. But this show is irreparably damaged for reasons both in and out of his control. 📺
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