Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars. That actually happened. And as much as anybody is scandalized by the event, we are simultaneously laughing at it.
And we should be.
Mark Hamill, on his instagram account, wrote that it was the #UgliestOscarMomentEver. Amy Schumer has since opened up about the moment, saying it has left her with a “sickening feeling” and that she’s been “traumatized” by it.
While I agree the joke was absolutely in poor taste, so was the response. To be completely honest, I had no clue Jada Pinkett Smith had alopecia, and maybe neither did the majority of us, including Chris Rock himself. This really just goes to show that if you’re going to make a joke about someone on an international platform, you should probably do some basic research first.
For all the posturing that Hollywood and its participants do, the stark reality is, there are more important things we should be paying attention to. We like to place importance on this realm of complete un-reality as a representation of our collective human experience and a sort of global culture we all spectate about, and therefore, should somehow aspire to.
This tiny moment of ill self-control has been dissected for its misogynistic, ableist, and toxic masculinity implications, and while those theories may or may not be wrong or right, I think it’s time to look at the big picture.
What does matter more so, is the creative output. How our leading creators envision our culture and the future of it and us, and then presents to us seems, to me, to be much more relevant. But at the same time, we’re in the beginning stages of what looks like World War Three and the world is a literal dumpster fire. So, even that feels like it should take a back seat.
But to be perfectly honest, after this incredibly long pandemic, Trump in the United States office and Biden really not doing much better than he, Russia invading the Ukraine, Taliban attempting to take control over Afghanistan, among the many invasions of the United States into other countries, the Billionaire Space Race — there honestly isn’t enough space on the page to adequately list, much less devote the required attention and care to topics such as these.
So, really, how does this slap affect the world in any real and measurable way?
While the display is unfortunate, we should also be acknowledging that events such as the Oscars themselves are productions, and so are the façades of the people that participate in the production and exhibition of Hollywood.
Maybe what should be taken from this year’s Oscars are the moments that were overshadowed.
Moments such as seeing Liza Minelli present alongside Lady Gaga on the 50th anniversary of Cabaret, for which she received an Oscar herself. Or, Jane Campion’s victory as Best Director for The Power of the Dog, making her the third woman to take home the prize, and the only one to have been nominated twice. Sian Heder’s CODA also took home the award for Best Picture, making it the first film made for a streaming service to receive a top category win and sheds light on growing up in deaf household. Another thing that should not be overshadowed by the moment is Ariana DeBose’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first openly queer woman of colour to receive an Academy Award.