The idea of being the ultimate protector of women gets a lot of men going. Will Smith, a beloved star, is no different.
The 94th Academy Awards was a little different than usual. Chris Rock cracked a poor joke at Jada Pinkett Smith, calling her ‘G.I. Jane’ for her bald look and green dress. Rock was making a reference to the 1997 film ‘GI Jane’ when Demi Moore famously shaved her head for the role of America’s first female Navy SEALs. The Oscar host clearly didn’t know enough about Jada’s alopecia or the mental trauma it brings. And guess who was laughing in the audience initially? Her husband Will Smith. Moments later, the camera showed Smith getting up on stage and slapping Rock and telling him to ‘keep his wife’s name out of his mouth’.
The aggression, nothing but Smith’s testosterone-driven blind urge to prove himself a worthy suitor to his wife more than 20 years after their marriage, explains the completely mercurial way he switched from laughing in one moment to charging at Chris Rock in the next.
And the cherry on the cake? Moments later, Smith won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ for his role as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard. Smith apologised to his fellow nominees and the Academy, but not Rock.
We can all laugh at this behaviour, or laud Rock for sportingly and gracefully handling this rather embarrassing situation, but it exposes a very dark side of ‘manliness’. Men, in the name of love, resort to violence without remorse. Let’s call assault what it is – a giant red flag.
This is not love
“Love will make you do crazy things,” Smith said in his acceptance speech. Perhaps even Kabir Singh said that. Smith also said, “Art imitates life.”
What Will Smith did isn’t love at all. Slapping a comedian for making a joke, or yelling, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth” aggressively doesn’t make him charming, gallant, caring, or protective. I don’t even think that it made Jada feel protected. It’s going to be weeks of embarrassment and something that will haunt the couple for life.
Smith was so scared of finding a joke on her funny that he resorted to extreme behaviour to make up for it. What we saw was problematic and concerning.
Bear with me: Smith assaults a comedian, as the world watches, without remorse, in the name of love and ‘protecting his wife’. Smith faced no consequence, no security guard escorted him away, only a concerned Denzel Washington talked to him, and then he walked away with an Oscar. Chris Rock didn’t press assault charges.
If anyone else in that audience got up there and slapped someone on stage?
They’re booted from that theater in 10 seconds. https://t.co/XIee59TA4P
— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) March 28, 2022
Men around the world resort to similar violence in the name of, you got that right, love. So many women get stuck in abusive relationships, because their abusive husbands hit them and feed them the same rhetoric: I love you, I am protecting you. Where will you go?
Sit down, Will ya?
Jada seems to be getting some hate in YouTube comments and social media. People are insinuating that if she can’t take a joke, she should’ve stayed at home.
If anyone deserved to stay home, it was Will Smith. Jada did exactly what one is supposed to do if they don’t find something funny — not laugh and shake her head in disapproval.
That her husband lost his cool and did something completely wrong and indefensible doesn’t fall on her.
The fine line
On Twitter and YouTube a lot of ‘liberals’ also seem to be taking a pro-Will Smith stance — their argument being Chris Rock’s joke was ‘classless’ and thoughtless.
This is the classic debate in the comedy world— what’s acceptable and what crosses a line? Isn’t all comedy supposed to cross a line? Don’t comedians get a free pass to be crass? If all jokes are just that —jokes—or do some of them deserve consequences?
That’s a slippery slope – if all jokes are jokes then every comedian gets a free pass to propagate their bias, at the same time if every ‘offensive’ joke can be punished, then who gets to decide what’s offensive?
The crux of the matter, however, is that Rock’s joke could’ve been cruel, brutal, uncalled for, insensitive, but did he deserve to get slapped? And yet again, two men have taken over the conversation when it’s Jada’s voice we should be hearing.
Views are personal.