Academy Condemns Will Smith’s Oscars Slap

Academy Condemns Will Smith’s Oscars Slap
Will Smith (R) hit Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif., on March 27, 2022. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Jill McLaughlin

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences condemned actor Will Smith the day after the actor slapped presenter Chris Rock onstage.

The organization held an emergency meeting on March 28, saying they would start a formal review of the incident.

“The Academy 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 said in a statement to media.

During the 94th Oscars show, Smith appeared to respond to Rock’s joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s, hair. Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock, shocking the audience and viewers at home.

After the slap, Smith returned to his seat and yelled to Rock.

Later in the show, Smith gave a tearful acceptance speech after winning an Oscar for “Best Male Actor,” apologizing to the Academy but not to Rock.

The incident trended on social media as the public and industry insiders called for action, including the suspension of Smith’s academy membership. Many also speculated whether the slap was staged to boost ratings.

Film producer Marshall Herskovitz called on the Academy to take action on Twitter on March 27. “I call upon the Academy, of which I am a member, to take disciplinary action against Will Smith. He disgraced our entire community tonight.”

Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund, wrote on Twitter that the event will have consequences.

“I know we’re all still processing, but the way casual violence was normalized tonight by a collective national audience will have consequences that we can’t even fathom in the moment,” Nelson wrote on Twitter.

The event’s producer Will Packer said the moment was painful for him.

“Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it,” Packer wrote on Twitter. “… this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.”

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said Rock had declined to file a report about the incident.

“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” according to an LAPD statement. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report.

“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

Initial ratings estimates released the morning after showed the live awards ceremony drew more viewers than last year.

ABC’s broadcast drew 15.4 million viewers, an increase of about 48 percent from last year but the second-lowest ratings in its history, according to fast national ratings from Nielsen, media reported. Last year, the program had a record low viewership when 10.4 million tuned in.

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.