Last week at the Oscars, in the middle of the LIVE SHOW, and in front of millions of Americans, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. Instantly everyone jumped on the “violence is not the answer” bandwagon. I did not. Violence is not the answer in most cases. However, sometimes it is. Take a stroll down the historical acquisition of America, confidently say violence is not the answer, or take the time to think about whose backs America was built, then confidently say violence is not the answer. Violence is or is not the answer when it is convenient. Shortly after the infamous slap, Will Smith was awarded an Oscar. In his acceptance speech, he justified his actions by saying he was defending his family. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock because he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith (Will Smith’s wife). Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia which has caused her to decide to be bald and not wear a wig. When Chris Rock acknowledged her bald head with his joke, she made a face of intolerance and disgust. Will Smith immediately sprung up from his seat, walked to the stage, and slapped Chris Rock.
What’s important is what we don’t see. Often people see a reaction without seeing what action caused that reaction. In this case, it could have been many things, one being Jada’s personal battle with alopecia. Chris Rock produced a documentary about hair with the intention to uplift women, and on the night of the Oscars, he did the opposite. Many believe the art of comedy is dying because of cancel culture and the sensitivity of today’s world. Others think it was highly unprofessional of Will Smith to slap Chris Rock on national television. Decorum and comedy must find a middle ground. Will Smith and Chris Rock have been in the industry for years. Given their longevity, the entire situation could have not happened or been handled differently. Jada Pinket Smith has been vocal about why she doesn’t have hair, what her hair symbolizes, and how she developed the problems she has with her hair. Recently, in my Introduction to Media class, we had a guest speaker who brilliantly stated “Jada’s voice was lost in this entire situation “.