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COLUMN: Oscar slap is no contest

The internet blew up after actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock live at the Oscars on Sunday night
2022-03-29-Oscars
Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Pizzello

We all saw it. 

Even if we weren't watching. We all saw actor Will Smith walk up and "slap the sh*t" out of comedian and Oscar presenter Chris Rock live Sunday night. 

If somehow you missed it, Rock cracked a joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, Will's wife.

Rock made a GI Jane joke, a reference to the actress' shaved head. Thing is, her hair is buzzed short because she has alopecia — a condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles causing hair loss. 

Immediately after the slap seen 'round the world, the internet blew up with tweets, memes and YouTube videos dissecting the meaning and subtext of the 10-second clip. 

The conversation quickly became divided between people who thought Will Smith should be praised for his chivalry or cancelled for his assault on live television. 

Other takes included toxic Black masculinity, misogynoir, cancel culture and society's normalization of violence in media.  

Did Rock make a low blow ableist joke? Why, yes, he did. Did Will Smith stand up for his wife on live television in front of more than 15.4 million viewers? Yeah, sure did. Is this assault? Also, yes. 

Should we continue to attempt to interpret a moment in history and apply our own context to it? No, probably not. 

Rock later said he wasn't going to be pressing charges and Smith made a public apology, albeit after winning his first Oscar, for best actor, nonetheless. 

What if, sometimes, a slap is just a slap?

In any case, there is no real winner in this incident. 

 




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