I realize the irony (hypocrisy?) of writing things like this and this—basically mocking anyone who cares about pop culture and famous people—but this is just too good to pass up, even if it turns out later that the whole thing was a publicity stunt to get people to actually care about the Oscars.
Yes, I’m referring to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars after Rock made a joke about Jada Smith’s bald head. At first Will is laughing, but then he looks over at Jada, sees she’s mad, and loses it. He marches up, slaps Chris Rock, then sits back down and screams and swears at him from his chair.
I would expect this type of behavior from Carlton, but not Will. I guess the hair is off limits, but Jada can sleep with other guys all she wants. Lecture me again, dear movie stars. Apparently it’s all fun and adultery until someone gets alopecia.
Not surprising, a few self-aggrandizing gossipers are defending Smith, like he was somehow justified for committing assault and battery. They say the joke was out of line, etc. While I’m not really defending Chris Rock (he doesn’t need me to), and I thought the joke was a bit of low-hanging fruit, wow this continues to spell disaster for comedy. I mean, if you hire a comedian known for blue jokes at others’ expenses, you really don’t have a right to be upset when he does what he’s paid for. If I invite a plumber to my house, I’m not going to slap him across the face when he fixes the plumbing. Yet that is what happened to Chris Rock. He should’ve just stuck to the script and made fun of some conservative.
Now, I’m not going to spend time today complaining about “cancel culture” and the importance of allowing free speech (no matter how abrasive it is to your tender feelings). That’s also low-hanging fruit. Today, I want to say this with all the seriousness with which the Academy takes itself, and I cannot emphasize it enough:
It is socially dangerous to defend or justify Will Smith’s actions in any way.
He didn’t even defend himself, but apologized quickly. Good. Take that cue, and do not defend him or justify his actions. The consequences of doing so are worse than you think, and still waters run deep. Will Smith is a Hollywood icon, meaning almost anyone else would have been tackled by security or at least ushered out of the ceremony and into a police car. The slap was deliberate, and he did it because he knew he could get away with it. This was not a “defending the honor of your wife” moment of passion, like a butt-pinch in a bar. This was battery, plain and simple, aimed at another man in front of a large audience in order to humiliate him and show dominance. It was completely uncalled for in any case, and doubly so in this case. So frankly, if you defend these specific actions, even from the perspective of a defensive husband, you are inadvertently applauding actual social inequality and affirming that the elite really should have the ability to do whatever they want.This is incredibly dangerous, because it continues to fuel the public opinion that some people are more important than others.But remember these are the same people who lecture you about climate change from their private jets, post bail for violent rioters and looters, raise super PACs to stifle the rights of unborn human beings, and shame you relentlessly because you want to keep your small business afloat and not just lock yourself in the basement with a mask on. I’m glad he apologized, but even if he hadn’t, nothing will happen to Will Smith; his prestige is too high, he knows it, and that’s why he did it. Watch him now get away with it, then quickly go back to lecturing us—sorry, inspiring us.
So no, dear reader, do not defend Will Smith; there was zero justification for his actions, and defending him in any way is affirming that some people are more important than others—important enough to commit violence against another person over an albeit tasteless joke and escape the consequences. The Christian faith teaches exactly the opposite:
“Why not rather be wronged?” St. Paul says (1 Corinthians 6). “Blessed are you when people persecute you…” Jesus says (Matthew 5). “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” (Romans 12) Don’t sit in the seat of honor, lest the host come and knock you down a few pegs. How embarrassing would that be? Instead take the lowest seat so that you can be elevated by your host. (Luke 14) Many who are last will be first, and first last (Matthew 19).
I don’t believe this is hyperbole; it is rather symptomatic of the backwards social lies of a culture that is imploding like a dying star. So I will not condone or support any semblance of debate which implicitly suggests that at a certain tier of privilege it is acceptable to assault someone without consequence. I’m not saying Will Smith deserves some sort of legal punishment—it’d be nice to see forgiveness for a change; but anything other than abject repentance fuels the defensive egoism that is killing this country. Eventually, no one will be able to judge a proportionate reaction, and the entire land will devolve into self-important narcissists who do nothing but attack and hurt others while defending themselves and their actions as being more valid “lived experiences.” Then speech will be met with violence on the equivocation that speech is also violence, which is patently absurd and literally impossible.
… wait, never mind. We’ll already there.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.