Oscars Slap Uncalled For, Act of Violence


Makayla Erickson

Will Smith’s slap shocked and angered many viewers.

At this point, we’ve all witnessed the most controversial, literally jaw-dropping, and to-be-remembered-for-years moment of the 2022 Oscars: Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage following him cracking a crude joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s balding due to her alopecia. The initial reaction from the crowd, and at-home onlookers, was awkward laughing and an attempt to move on like it didn’t just happen. After time to process, people have been very willing to share their varying opinions on the validity of this smack – was it a powerful display of love, defending his wife, or an uncalled for, inappropriate act of violence? I choose to believe the latter.

Here’s where I stand. I do understand that worse things could have and have happened in Hollywood. I do understand that the intention behind his action was probably good. But consider this: people in the spotlight, people with influence, people who have the privilege to attend the Oscars, have a responsibility, more than the average person, to hold themselves to respectable standards. Violence onstage is simply not demonstrating that. It is a part of their job to be better than that.

A “bitch-slap” and “petty smack,” as the violence is referred to in the argument above, completely undermines the seriousness of violence. The answer to the theoretical question, “Where do we draw the line?” is at any and all violence. Others having gotten away with it in the past is not compelling enough reason for why we should excuse Smith’s behavior. Society is progressing, and so should the public’s responses to controversies such as this.

And “who cares?” – actually, a lot of people care. Think of Smith’s slap as a court case being taken to the Supreme Court, but the Academy is acting as the Supreme Court. How the Academy will “rule” or respond will set a huge precedent for violence in the future. If this is brushed under the rug, Smith is awarded his Oscar and nothing really happens, the message is sent that this type of behavior is acceptable from celebrities.

Though this incident of a singular slap and the world’s response to it can be seen as overdramatic and possibly excessive, the weight it holds ultimately means it can not be taken lightly. If we want to continue progressing as a society, always trying to do better, we must take violence seriously.