The Hollywood gossip mills started churning when acclaimed actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars. The incident resulted in the internet making memes and analyzing the situation with some support of Smith while others condemned him. The ceremony was going smoothly when Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. He asked Jada when she will be starring in GI Jones 2 comparing her to Demi Moore’s character from GI Jones, who shaved her head in order to appear less feminine and become a navy seal. Not 20 minutes after the incident, Will Smith won the best actor award for his film King Richard and accepted it with tears in his eyes and he also managed to apologize to the Academy. However, there was no mention of Chris Rock. If one views the video of the incident, it is evident that Will was clearly enjoying the humour up until he saw Jada, who was sitting right beside him and seemed to be uncomfortable with the joke. He then stormed towards the stage and gave Chris Rock a tight slap right across his face. After which he went back to his seat and asked the presenter to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth, with an addition of some profanities in the sentence. Clearly, the issue on which Rock joked was a sensitive one. Recently, Jada Pinkett Smith opened up about her struggles with alopecia and how it had taken a toll on her mental health because her hair was a big part of her and losing that meant she was losing a big part of herself. For years she hid her struggle behind turbans, scarves and hats.
Recently, however, she decided not to hide behind anything and accepted herself just the way she is. It takes courage to accept the situation one is in to make peace with it and move on with life with confidence. If we break down the situation, then both parties seem to be at fault. While Chris Rock joked about something that was a sensitive issue for Jada and all those women who have been facing alopecia and have since long-hidden themselves behind scarves and hats, Smith’s response was highly regressive and rooted in misogynistic values. Chris Rock was clearly out of line for his bullying and Smith did not have to become a protector of his family in such a violent way. Moreover, Jada Pinkett Smith is a strong and empowered woman who does need a male protector to keep her honour intact. Had it been about someone else from his family, Smith’s reaction would have been different. However, since the joke was on his wife, he did what most men who still do not understand that women do not need them to fight their battles nor protect their honour do. Another point that was raised by netizens was that would Smith have slapped the presenter had he been white? There is a lot to dismantle about the situation and the internet is having a blast doing just that.