Academy Weighs Possible Action Against Will Smith Over Onstage Slap That Rattled The Oscars

94th Academy Awards - Oscars Show - Hollywood
Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

LOS ANGELES, USA – The team that hands out the Oscars on Monday condemned Will Smith’s slap of presenter Chris Rock at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony and said it had started a formal investigation of the incident that became controversial.

Smith strode on stage during the live telecast and slapped Chris Rock on the face after the comedian made a joke about the appearance of Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife.

“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait,” Rock said, a reference to her shaved head. She revealed her alopecia diagnosis in 2018. Demi Moore famously shaved her head to star in the 1997 film “G.I. Jane.”

Less than an hour later, an emotional Smith won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” as the fiery, flawed coach and father of the tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

In a statement on Monday, the 9,900-member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it “condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show.”

“We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”

The Academy

The group’s standards of conduct policy states it is “categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination” and expects members to uphold the values “of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity.”

Violations may result in suspension or expulsion from the group, revocation of Oscars, or loss of eligibility for future awards, according to the policy.

As he accepted the best actor trophy, Smith apologized to the academy and fellow nominees, but not to Rock, and said he hoped he would be invited back to the Oscars.

Oscars producers had been hoping for a memorable night on Sunday to rebound from record-low ratings last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. They brought in three hosts, opened the show with Beyonce and tried to keep the show moving by editing some acceptance speeches.

But it was Smith’s altercation with Rock that became the most controversial moment of the night, with pictures and videos becoming viral in social media. The controversial slap has immediately generated thousands of memes as well.

The New York Times, citing two anonymous industry officials, said there were serious discussions about removing Smith from the Dolby Theatre after his attack on Rock.

But time was short, because the best actor award was fast approaching, one of the sources told the newspaper, and stakeholders had varying opinions on how to proceed.

Many Hollywood celebrities denounced Smith’s actions.

“Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did,” filmmaker Rob Reiner said on Twitter.

Source: Reuters, New York Times

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