By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
The 94th annual Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscar was held in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday evening.
However, the most talked about moment of event was when the best actor winner, Will Smith, took offence to a joke by presenter Chris Rock and slapped him onstage.
While presenting the best documentary prize with a short comedy routine, Rock had joked about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, as being ready for “GI Jane 2,” in reference to her shaved head. Pinkett-Smith has been open about having alopecia, which causes hair loss.
Smith then walked to the stage, slapped Rock, and sat back down, before shouting “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth” twice.
Reactions have since trailed the incident online, ranging from people who support Smith’s action and those against it. Some of those who supported Smith include the actor’s 23-year-old son, Jaden Smith, who posted on Twitter after the ceremony. Baden wrote: “And That’s How We Do It.”
Member of the United States Congress, Ayanna Pressley, who has also been open about stigma faced with alopecia, tweeted: “#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults.”
Actor LaKeith Stanfield in an interview on the red carpet for the Vanity Fair Oscar party, said: “I don’t know, it was crazy. I don’t know, it was surreal.”
Some were appalled by Smith’s behaviour, seeing it as an example of the normalisation of violence.
“Violence isn’t ok. Assault is never the answer. Also, this is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the #Oscars stage, & tonight he went after her alopecia. Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather,” actor Sophia Bush tweeted.
In her reaction, comedian Kathy Griffin, said it is a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a comedian.
“Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters,” she said.
“Someone in the audience charged the stage Friday night during my opener’s set and attempted to throw the speaker, started taking swings at the people trying to stop her and pushed down a security guard. It’s scary times. So, no, I don’t find someone getting hit on stage amusing,” tweeted comedian Fortune Feimster.
“The ‘vessels of love’ I have known or admired never acted violently against another human being…” actor Cary Elwes tweeted, referring to Smith’s acceptance speech for best actor, in which he said he felt called to be a “vessel of love.”
Also, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), weughed in on the incident via a statement.
In the statement, LAPD said: “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report.
“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
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