(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) Shortly before receiving one of the night’s top honors, actor King Richard star Will Smith stole the night for a different reason, by assaulting presenter Chris Rock live at the Sunday’s Academy Award’s ceremony.
That has led to some critical reactions that Smith’s status as a wealthy and powerful movie star, paired with his identity as an African American, allowed him to comport himself in ways that might have put anyone else in jail.
Smith mounted the stage and smacked the former “Saturday Night Live” comedian after Rock made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has recently sported a closely-cropped hairdo.
“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock joked.
It is unclear whether Rock was aware, as subsequent reports suggested, that Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a disease which causes you to lose all of your hair.
Will Smith got up and hit Rock at this point, followed by a terse exchange which ABC censored on American TV.
Japanese TV was not censored, hear the full audio below. (Warning: includes profanity):
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth,” Smith said. R
ock acquiesced, and the show moved on.
Reactions to Smith’s outburst have been mixed. Some believe the altercation was faked in order to boost ratings, while others believe Smith hit his boiling point after an earlier reference to his open marriage.
I think if I felt I needed to slap a dude in front of millions of people for insulting my wife, her and I would’ve probably gone home after I did it. I definitely wouldn’t be going to after parties.
— Bobby Fresh (@_BobbyFresh_) March 28, 2022
People speculating the Will Smith vs Chris Rock thing was staged. No, definitely not. A stunt like that is something they might have staged at the VMAs in the 90s. Not the woke Oscars in 2022. Will Smith is just a deranged cuckold who finally snapped. That’s all. Hilarious though
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 28, 2022
Early on when Regina was calling men onto stage, a joke was made that Jada gave her blessing, which to me seemed to be referencing her infidelity with him. From that moment on, I think he was stewing. She was the primer and Chris was the trigger. (IF this was even real).
— James Richardson (@JMR0979) March 28, 2022
While it is unclear whether the incident was staged, a few responses from politicians are worth noting.
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) March 28, 2022
Jamaal Bowman also briefly tweeted about Will Smith assaulting Chris Rock before deleting it pic.twitter.com/KLKXbI4o9E
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) March 28, 2022
Rock is not pressing criminal charges against Smith, which many are also saying is a sign of Smith’s privilege.
What kind of privilege is it when you can assault someone on national television and then go ahead and win an Oscar rather than go to jail?
Asking for millions of supposedly privileged people. #Oscars
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 28, 2022
Will Smith committed a violent crime, took no responsibility, and then blamed it on his feelings. Perfect encapsulation of our times.
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 28, 2022
Smith was later seen partying at the Oscars Vanity Fair after party:
don’t let Hollywood ever preach to you about privilege again pic.twitter.com/IIhIjjFjT8
— Matt’s Idea Shop (@MattsIdeaShop) March 28, 2022