Will Smith slapping incident: ‘No apologies for what he did.’ Comedians React in Horror to Will Smith’s Oscars Slap Incident

NEW YORK: Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars sparked intense opinions online, particularly from comedians who felt it was an attack on their art.

“Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad habit to go on stage and physically assault a comedian,” Kathy Griffin wrote on Twitter. “Now we all have to wonder who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”

The heated exchange began when Rock verbally took aim at Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, “Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2’, can’t wait to see it, okay?” Rock’s reference was taken from the 1997 film “GI Jane,” starring Demi Moore, who shaved her head to portray a fictional Navy Seal candidate.

Will Smith, her husband, came on stage and hit Rock with an open palm, generating a loud slap. Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a “GI Jane” joke – and Smith yelled at him a second time.

Smith yelled at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth”, and the crowd fell silent when it became clear it wasn’t an act. Smith went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor; Rock chose not to file a police report.

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“Will Smith owes Chris Rock a big apology. There’s no excuse for what he did. He’s lucky Chris doesn’t press charges for assault,” commented the producer, director and actor Rob Reiner on Twitter.

George Takei said Smith’s loss of temper was a bad look when so many people were watching: “A lot of people, especially children, look up to actors. Because of that, we have the obligation to try to be good role models. With fame comes responsibility.”

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Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed hair loss challenges on Instagram and other social media platforms.

Some reviewers have noted that alopecia is a painful experience that many black women have and that is no joke. Rock himself helped create the documentary “Good Hair”, exploring why African American women and their relationship with their hair.

As unfunny as Rock’s joke is, it pales in comparison to some award shows of years past, notably from the acerbic Ricky Gervais, who skewered Leonardo DiCaprio, Judy Dench and Felicity Huffman.

Judd Apatow was highly critical of Smith in a now-deleted Twitter post, describing the attack as “uncontrollable rage and violence”. He noted that celebrities have been the butt of jokes for decades: “They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They’re not freshmen in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.”

And Mark Hamill called the ugliest Oscar moment incident ever, tweeting “Stand-up comedians are very good at dealing with rowdies. Violent physical assaults…not so much.”

Janai Nelson, president and director-attorney of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, wrote: “I know we are all still processing, but the way casual violence has been normalized tonight by a collective national audience will have consequences that we cannot even fathom yet.”

Oscars 2022: Most memorable moments from the 94th Academy Awards

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