Chris Rock was Rocked at the Oscars


Photo Credit: The Academy Instagram

Makayla Kennedy, OwlFeed Lifestyle Editor

The 2022 Oscars were just like every other year. The hosts cracked mundane jokes, Dune swept the visual effect categories, and the “In Memoriam” section was like a church service. All was bland until the last 20 minutes when Chris Rock walked on stage. 

A running theme for the Oscars is the presenters making jokes about the people in attendance. Chris Rock was one of those people. He was presenting the award for “Best Documentary.” 

Before, he was making jokes and called WIll Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, “GI Jane” because of her lack of hair. Jada displayed an unamused face, prompting Will to walk up to Chris, slap him across the face, and sit back down. 

Almost immediately after, social media was buzzing asking what just happened since in the United States the audio was cut out. Many questioned if it was staged or not. I even got a news alert about it on the Fox News app. 

Moments later Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor, for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ father in King Richard. In his speech he compared himself to Richard Williams, the character he played, saying, “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.” 

He also apologized to the Academy in his speech, but only for a brief moment, and never directly addressed the incident. 

In the days following the slap heard around the world, many fans and celebrities were divided on who was right and who was wrong. 

Comedian and former late-night host Conan O’Brien poked fun at the situation, tweeting, “Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?” 

Some supported Will’s actions. Actress Tiffany Haddish said, “When I saw a black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me,” she told People Magazine. 

Others did not support the slap and criticized Will. Director Judd Apatow said in a since-deleted tweet that he could have “killed Chris Rock. That’s pure out-of-control rage and violence.” 

In the weeks following and many memes later, Will Smith posted a public apology where he apologized to Rock, saying “I was out of line and I was wrong.” 

Following this, Will resigned from the Academy. He can no longer vote for the Academy Awards, but he will keep his Oscar for King Richard. The decision was made because he wants to “put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” he said. 

All in all, it’s a very weird situation. Many can see both sides of the reasoning and understand why both parties did what they did. The incident took over the entire ceremony and honestly I can’t remember much besides it. It’ll definitely be talked about until next year’s Oscars.