And The Oscars Award For The Worst Joke Goes To…. 


The infamous Will Smith-Chris Rock controversy in the Oscars award 2022 will never die down.

It’s tragic how celebrities we’ve always looked up to fall to such depraved standards. Will Smith, for me, is like the embarassing first crush that you look back and wonder at your poor standards and taste back in the day. Will Smith is no longer the hip and hot multitalented Hollywood celebrity but someone who comes across as fake, entitled, and fallen. 

The Smith family belongs to the rising elite black community in America with all the problems that plague the powerful 1% of the first world. The Will Smith Jada Pinkett Smith marriage has come under the radar, even more so, post the Oscar controversy. 

I’ll refrain from dissecting their personal lives here as it’s their internal business and stick to the Slapgate incident and how fair the Oscar Board’s decision is in this article. 

Whose Side Are You On?

It was interesting to observe the buffet of reactions to the ugly controversy.  

Will Smith found many supporters on the poor pretext that this is what any ‘real’ man would do if his mother, wife or sister were insulted. Not surprisingly, Kangana Ranaut and Payal Rohatgi who were banned from Twitter for their abusive and hurtful tweets towards certain minority communities, wholeheartedly supported Will Smith’s violent response. Will and Jada’s son, Jaden tweeted after the event, “This is how we do it!” 

Chris Rock had his own share of admirers for his cool composure after the slap and for his magnanimity in not filing legal charges against Will Smith. 

Jada Pinkett Smith got her own legion of sympathisers for having two grown-up men, one who is her husband and the other an alleged ex, behaving like silly boys with their juvenile jokes and fisticuffs in an international public event. Chris Rock’s rumoured relationship is said to have begun in one of his three movies with Jada Pinkett Smith.

It was particularly amusing to see people play Sherlock Holmes to the T. From reading the mind games and body language of the unholy trinity, Will Smith-Chris Rock-Jada Pinkett Smith,to the Big Pharma conspiracy theory behind the Oscars slapgate. 

And so, I thought I’d jump into the fray with my two cents as well. 

Why I think they did not script the infamous Oscars Slap

The Oscars Slap didn’t look scripted to me at all. Here are some reasons. 

First is the ridiculous presumption that the event was staged to boost the TRPs of the Oscars. There is nothing bigger than the Oscars Award and they don’t have to resort to such gimmicks to stay relevant in the public eye. At least, not yet! 

Will Smith is highly particular about his image and he wouldn’t have messed it up so badly. We now know, for sure, he’s the worst affected by this ugly incident, which should have never happened at all. Will Smith is banned from attending the Oscars and other events held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the next 10 years. We still do not have any clarity if his Best Actor Award will be revoked or not and if the ban includes future Oscar nominations as well. If it does, then the Oscar Board’s decision is bad news for Will Smith’s career. Not only is his career possibly at stake here, but also his marriage with increasing rumours of an impending divorce. Why would he agree to be part of a script that would sound a death-knell on his reputation, career and marriage? 

The only portion which seemed scripted to me were Chris Rock’s jokes. The rest seemed like a natural reaction. Like there was a joke on Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s open marriage earlier in the show by American actress, Regina Hall. Jada Pinkett Smith took it sportingly while Will Smith looked embarrassed at the public pinpointing at his ‘ready to mingle’ status that clashed with his ‘family man’ image. He couldn’t do anything about it because the host was a woman. 

Chris Rock has made similar jokes on Jada Pinkett Smith in the past over her decision to boycott the Oscars for the lack of diversity,and she let it slip by. Which is why he thought he could get away with this joke on her illness this time, too. 

It’s also not the first time such mishaps have happened at the Oscars Award event. There have been several such unpleasant and disappointing behaviours from artists which we will discuss later in this article. Celebrities are human beings too.

The Oscars Slapgate is a blot not just on the Oscars Award history but also on the black community. Irrespective of whether Will, Jada and Chris belong to the black elite club, they have to fight the criminal stereotype that plague the African American community. Much like what Muslims, irrespective of their economic status, face in India. The most recent examples being the targeting of Shahrukh Khan and his patriotism, or Payal Rohatgi calling Zeeshan Khan a terrorist in one of the recent episodes of LockUpp and getting away with it I won’t be surprised if the makers reward her divisive propoganda by making her the winner of Lockupp Season 1. 

Finally, it’s obvious that the Oscars slap was not scripted or staged if you have watched the uncensored version of it. And about the Pharma conspiracy theory, I’ll ditch it for now as only time will reveal if there’s any grain of truth in it. I don’t buy the theory though. 

As for body language, while I’m no expert, I think I’m instinctive enough to decipher the non-verbal cues. Will Smith didn’t look angry at all to me. The anger seemed forced, including the melodramatic dialogues after the slap. “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*&%$# mouth!”

Come on, this man initially chuckled at the joke. How could he possibly turn angry suddenly? But some switch inside him flipped in a second for him to take a 360° turn. Whether it was because his wife didn’t like the joke or the camera was on him, he slapped Chris Rock for his ego’s sake and being seen as the good, protective husband. 

Imagine if he didn’t react, and they replayed the joke where the world saw him laughing insensitively while his wife was obviously not amused or comfortable. How would that make Will Smith look, whether it’s in front of his family or the world? 

Will Smith thought he did what a normal, macho, loving man would do for his woman. But he forgot this was the Oscars Award ceremony and not the street side or some informal party. Hello Shahrukh Khan and Shirish Kunder! And formal events come with their own code of conduct else you face the consequences. 

Will Smith’s only honest reaction was his laugh. And yes, actions speak louder than words. 

But that doesn’t grant sainthood to Chris Rock either. Remember he started the fire? His joke, more like a jibe, went, “Jada, Can’t Wait For GI Jane 2.” While this might sound flattering at the outset, here’s some background on why Chris Rock’s joke was out of line: 

G.I.Jane played by Demi Moore was used as a sexist and homophobic slur when the movie was first released. It was used to insult women who didn’t look feminine by society’s standards and their sexual orientation. 

Chris Rock’s joke that references G.I. Jane reinforces these stereotypes around women, apart from the fact that it’s highly insensitive to mock someone’s appearance. More so because of an illness.

Closer home, we had Salman Khan condemning Chris Rock for his insensitive joke when his own show, “The Kapil Sharma Show” is infamous for body shaming jokes. Irrespective of whether anyone is conventionally considered fit or not, no one has the right to joke or condemn anyone for their physical appearance. It’s rude, insensitive, and must stop for etiquette and empathy’s sake. Let’s also stop glorifying toxic masculinity, the trope which our Bollywood heroes use (read manipulate) to win over the heroine’s heart.

Chris Rock’s body language also came under public scrutiny. Bedros Akkelian aka Spidey, a Mentalist and Behavior Analyst, weighs in saying that Chris Rock’s ‘leaning in forward’ body language is typical of stage performers as they can’t see the other side clearly because of the bright lights. He also dissects how Rock gets defensive with his left hand up and the right fist curving into a ball before the slap, but refrains from attacking Smith because of his quick mind. 

Oscars Slap: Three Wrongs Don’t Make A Right 

Unfortunately, Will Smith came across as the worst offender of them all in the Oscars slap incident even though it might be the whole truth. Yes, violence must always be condoned and in this case, even though the joke was in poor taste, it certainly didn’t warrant violence as punishment. 

Instead, Will Smith could have walked up to the stage and spoken against making fun of someone’s illness and appearance. Better still, called his wife on stage and publicly announced they weren’t pleased with the joke. That would have been more impactful than a mere slap, which made Will Smith look like an uncivilised goon instead of an educated and refined artist. But then Will Smith has also made body shaming jokes in the past as a comedian and so his actions seem hypocritical now. 

Coming to the other man, Chris Rock made another sexist joke at Penelope Cruz in the same event. Most men think sexist jokes are hilarious. Nothing’s disrespectful when women are the butt of all jokes, be it at home, workplace or elsewhere. If women object, they are called out for being too emotional or overreacting to a joke. 

Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head is because of alopecia, an auto-immune disease, and not some fashion statement. You don’t crack jokes on Jada Smith’s disease. This controversy has also not helped Jada Pinkett Smith’s case at all. With all the dirt on the Will Smith and Jada Pinkett relationship out now for public scrutiny, people are calling her all sorts of names from ‘witch’ to ‘Jezebel’ and blaming her for ruining Will Smith’s life. Yes! please target the woman always even if she didn’t have anything to do with the violent event.

While Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith seem to be paying a price for their actions, who’s going to hold Chris Rock and the Oscars Board accountable? 

How did the Oscars Board approve of Chris Rock’s insensitive and vulgar Jada Pinkett Smith GI Jane joke targeted at a black woman with an auto-immune disorder? 

The Oscars have a notorious reputation for scapegoating women and being predominantly white despite their cosmetic ethnic representations and for having a different set of rules for white people and indigenous groups.

Whether it’s Seth MacFarlane’s cringeworthy “We Saw Your Boobs” opening song at the Oscars 2013 or giving a standing ovation to Roman Polanski, who was accused of drugging and raping minor girls, when he won the Best Director award, none of these white men had to face public mockery and ban. 

This makes me wonder, but I already feel repulsed, as I know the answer to the question: 

Would the Oscars Board have conveniently banned Will Smith for a decade if he was a white man?

And so, the Oscars Award for the worst joke goes to the Oscars Board.

* I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z.

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Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.

One comment

  1. Very well written, Tina! Slapgate was an eye opener. Actors who play the hero are not real heroes. Comedians who crack crude and unfeeling jokes should be told off. The real problem here is the violence that is all people will remember about the Oscars this year. Sad, but true!

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