Will Smith Smack Irrelevant in Scandalous Hollywood

Hollywood sweeping larger issues under the rug while shining the spotlight on Will Smith and Chris Rock.

Ali Montee

Hollywood sweeping larger issues under the rug while shining the spotlight on Will Smith and Chris Rock.

So, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face. For weeks, it’s all that anybody talked about.

If you’re somehow not fully debriefed, I’ll give you the rundown: while hosting the Oscars, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s baldness, allegedly ignorant of her recent struggle with alopecia (a disorder that causes rapid hair loss). Smith laughed at the joke, but Jada was not pleased. Moments later, Smith sauntered onstage, slapped Rock across the face, and walked away. He then proceeded to, once seated, yell profanities at Rock and tell him to keep his “wife’s name out of your mouth.”

In response, the Academy has announced that they are undergoing an “investigation” into the incident and are considering revoking Smith’s Oscar. This may raise a lot of questions, such as “how do you investigate something that was captured on live national television?” A bigger question, though, is “who cares?”

We all know that the violence and corruption of the Hollywood industry has always been far more insidious than a bitch-slap and a couple of f-bombs. Harvey Wienstein has accumulated 81 Oscars for films that he has produced – as well as over 80 sexual assault and harrassment allegations. Mel Gibson, who has been nicknamed Hollywood’s leading anti-semite, has 2 Oscars for Braveheart. Woody Allen, who is now known more for his perversion than his rom-coms, married his adopted daughter and still kept his 4 Oscars. So why is the academy considering revoking Smith’s Oscar for a petty smack? Why is this where we have chosen to draw the line?

Our online culture of manufactured outrage is once again falling short of providing anything to progressive discourse other than a few really funny tweets (“In a world of Will Smiths, be a Zelensky” is a personal favorite). We fall for shock and the opportunity to display our eternal virtue rather than focus on truly constructive critiques of some of the most marginalizing industries in America.

Will Smith’s slap was just that – a moment of drama at an irrelevant awards show. It was not an acme of toxic masculinity in America, or a portrayal of the fall of classic Western tradition. When it comes to Hollywood, a slap is the least of our worries.