One year since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock that continues to make people talk: “Those who say words hurt have never been punched” | People



In a performance at the Royal Albert Hall theater in London in May 2022, during a tour of Europe, comedian Chris Rock (58 years old, South Carolina, USA) said that he would only talk about the Will Smith slap episode in the Oscars with one clear condition: “On Netflix, when I see a huge check signed in my name.” He has kept his promise. Last Saturday, March 4, the platform broadcast its first live comedy special from the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, entitled Chris Rock: Selective Outrage (Chris Rock: selective outrage). A show in style that featured comedians Arsenio Hall, Ronny Chieng and JB Smoove as opening act, displaying a counter that indicated how long it would take for the star of the night to hit the stage. An anticipation the size of the great elephant that Chris Rock had sworn to bring to the room: “I bet you anything Will Smith slaps a television tonight,” said Hall before the main course arrived.

“Tonight I’m going to try to put on a show without offending anyone,” Chris Rock began as soon as he took the microphone. “I’m going to do my best, because you never know who might be offended. People always say words hurt…anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.” For the humorist, selective indignation is a sign of the incoherence of human beings, who are often not clear why or towards whom they direct their anger, and with this excuse, which served as a title for his expected Show, began to talk about the Smiths: “ Will Smith practices selective outrage. Outrage because everyone knows what the hell happened. Everybody knows that I have nothing to do with that shit. I didn’t have any trouble, ”he said, alluding to the false rumors that Smith’s slap came from an old man. affaire between him and the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He also referred to the infidelity that Pinkett Smith admitted on her show, Red Table Talk, which is broadcast on Facebook, with the musician August Alsina, a friend of her son, who was 23 years old at the time, while she was 49. “His wife fucked his son’s friend…”, continued Rock, ” Normally, I wouldn’t talk about these things, but for some reason, they spread all this…on the internet. I think that she [Jada Pinkett Smith] did more damage to him [ Will Smith] than he to me.”

“People laughed at him. And who did he hit? Me! To the person who knew he could slap”, he continued, alluding to the incident and the misdirected anger of the Oscar winner for best actor at that same gala. “I loved Will Smith. He makes great movies, I’ve supported him all my life. and now i see towards freedom just to see him get beaten up,” the comedian said, referring to one of the actor’s recent outings, in which he plays a slave who fled a Louisiana plantation after being flogged to near death. Rock closed his monologue against the Smiths by responding to why he didn’t take action after the slapping incident: “Because I have parents. And do you know what my parents taught me? That one should not fight in front of the whites”.

Following the airing of the comedy special on Netflix, sources close to Jada Pinkett Smith have stated in the magazine People that Chris Rock has been obsessed with her for more than 30 years: “Look at the place she has chosen to do this special. Baltimore, Jada’s hometown. He is obsessed, ”they say. In the special, Rock used, on numerous occasions, the word bitch (bitch, in Spanish) to refer to the actress, for which her friends are “horrified”. These same sources have assured that Pinkett Smith is “looking forward, focused on the book that she will release this year.”

Will Smith on stage at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles (California), during his Oscar acceptance speech for best actor for his performance in 'The Williams Method', in March 2022.
Will Smith on stage at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles (California), during his Oscar acceptance speech for best actor for his performance in ‘The Williams Method’, in March 2022.Neilson Barnard (Getty Images)

Tonight wasn’t the first time Rock had directed his incisive humor at Jada Pinkett Smith. He already did it at the 2016 Oscars ceremony, which he also presented, in response to the requests he received from Hollywood members of the African-American community, including that of the interpreter, so that he would not be in charge of the gala due to his absence. of actors of that breed among the nominees. Then, Rock joked about Pinkett being an actress: “For me to boycott the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. No one has invited me.”

It’s been almost a year since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards, but until now, the comedian hasn’t spoken so frontally about the incident. Yes, he had done it over the past year in various shows that were never recorded. He also did not comment on the incident on his social networks.

It all happened at 4:30 in the morning, Spanish peninsular time, on March 22, 2022. He was in charge of presenting the Oscar ceremony, he appeared again to entertain the gala. He began by launching a joke with dandy overtones towards Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz —where he was foolish enough to refer to the actress as the actor’s wife—, both nominated that night: “Do you know who has the toughest job tonight? Javier Bardem and his wife are nominated. If she loses, there’s no way he can win. Javier is praying that Will Smith wins,” said the comedian. Then it was the turn of the Smiths: “Jada, I love you, I can’t wait to see you in Lieutenant O’Neil 2″. Jada Pinkett Smith was not amused by that joke. To her husband, at first, yes. Later, seeing his wife’s reaction, he changed his mind. The fundamental difference was that the character in the film shaved her hair for military reasons, and Pinkett Smith did it to make visible alopecia, a taboo disease among women, about which the actress had spoken publicly on previous occasions. Soon, Will Smith got up and went on stage, to the surprise of Chris Rock, and slapped him resoundingly before the astonished gaze of an audience that at first did not know if it was a setup. “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” Smith yelled. The atmosphere darkened. And the episode, how could it be otherwise, became the most viral of the night.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith upon arrival at the 94th Academy Awards, shortly before the slap.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith upon arrival at the 94th Academy Awards, shortly before the slap.Mike Coppola (Getty Images)

A few minutes later, Smith picked up the Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his role in the williams method. In his speech, he indirectly mentioned what happened: “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” he began by saying, referring to the character who earned him the statuette, the father of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. in this business [el cine] you have to put up with people disrespecting you,” she added through tears, “you have to smile and pretend everything is okay. Denzel [Washington] He said to me a while ago: ‘At your best you have to be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.’

What happened after the slap? Will Smith announced that he was resigning from the Hollywood Academy, trying to preempt reprisals from the organization. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy and deprived the nominees and winners of an opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for his extraordinary work,” he said in a statement. It was of little use to him. Days later, he was banned for 10 years from any act of the institution, including the Oscars. “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” the actor said through a spokesman.

At the end of March of last year, Jada Pinkett Smith posted a brief and cryptic message on her Instagram account: “It’s the season to heal and I’m ready for it.” In June, she talked about it on her podcast, Network Table Talk, in an episode dedicated to alopecia: “My wish is that these two highly intelligent men have the opportunity to heal, talk and reconcile. We need them both with the world as it is.” Pinkett Smith assures that, after her slap, thousands of people contacted her to tell her stories about what it is like to live with alopecia.

In July, it was Will Smith’s turn: “I apologize to you, Chris. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here when you’re ready for us to talk,” the star said in a video posted to his Instagram account and YouTube. “I’ve spent the last three months walking around and trying to understand the nuances and complexities of what happened at that time,” the actor said. men in black. “No part of me now thinks that was the right way to behave at that time. No part of me thinks it was the right way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult,” she expressed.

Hours after Smith’s apology, Rock appeared at the Fox Theater to give one of his monologues, in which he included some hints directed at the repentant star. “Everyone is trying to be a fucking victim. If everyone claims to be a victim, then no one will listen to the real victims,” ​​the comedian said. And he added: “If anyone asks, I have already recovered my hearing”, referring to the slap on the ear. In other Show, this time with comedian Dave Chapelle (who, by the way, was assaulted in a show), the lurid subject was also touched on: “At least you got hit by someone famous,” Chapelle joked. To which Rock replied: “Well, yeah, I got hit by the softest rapper that ever lived.”


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