Throwing Hands at the Oscars

Who was in the wrong: Chris Rock or Will Smith?


Melinda Khechumyan, Staff Writer

During the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, March 27, Will Smith smacked his former friend Chris Rock in the face. In Smith’s defense, Rock had made a terrible joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. Rock stated, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see ya.” 

His joke was referring to Pinkett Smith’s resemblance to Demi Moore’s character in the 1997 movie G.I. Jane, because of her bald head. However, his remark wasn’t humorous, because Pinkett Smith has lost most of her hair due to alopecia

After the rude reference, we could see Smith laughing on camera, until he saw the bothered look on his wife’s face. He eventually walked onto the stage, approached Rock and slapped him right across the face. Immediately after he slapped Rock, Smith sat back in his chair and twice repeated, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!” 

As children, we were always taught that violence is never the answer. We were also taught to use our voices and not our hands. Yet, around the world people have viewed a famous celebrity physically assault his colleague at one of the most respected award shows. 

When is violence considered okay? The answer is never, even when someone insults a member of your family. 

Although Rock had made an inappropriate joke, the way that Smith reacted was disturbing and embarrassing. Slapping your former friend across the face at the Oscars, in front of millions of people, is truly humiliating.

I understand that Rock’s joke was mean-spirited and cruel, but Smith should not have stooped to his level. He should have remained calm and responded to the matter after the show. 

After smacking Rock in the face, he proceeded to swear at him from his seat. The Oscars is a very classy award show. No one should be swearing on live television, when children might be watching, and especially, no one should be throwing hands. 

Why did he think it was okay to act so foolishly? Well, he addressed that in his speech after receiving the Oscar for Best Actor. He stated how love “will make you do crazy things.” 

During the duration of his speech, Smith was crying and talking about how actors in his industry receive a lot of hate, and they have to learn how to handle it. Although he seemed genuine and grateful for his award, it does not excuse how he reacted to Rock’s joke.

Smith’s actions were disturbing and humiliating. People look up to him. Children see him on their screens, in movies like Aladdin. What kind of example is he setting for kids around the world by hitting someone? How are parents supposed to explain this ill-mannered behavior to their children? 

Will Smith eventually released an apology letter on his Instagram, explaining that violence is inexcusable and that he reacted emotionally when he shouldn’t have. He is absolutely right: violence is inexcusable and the way he reacted on Sunday night was disgusting. 

He should have never laid a hand on Chris Rock, especially at an event like the Oscars. Hopefully, young people around the world will not follow his bad example.

Stay peaceful and take care of each other, Nitros!