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The “Oscars Slap”: Chris Rock Responds in Netflix Comedy Special

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The world came to a halt when the viral and unforgettable “Oscars Slap” occurred on March 27, 2022 during the 94th Annual Academy Awards. It stunned all Hollywood fans and all Academy Award watchers. For those who are unaware, this moment involved actor Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock.

Rock, who was presenting the award for “Best Documentary,” made various jokes about celebrities present at the show. One of those celebrities was Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock referenced Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, relating her to the character G.I. Jane. As this resulted in laughter throughout the Dolby Theatre, cameras soon captured Smith walking to the stage and slapping Rock across the face. Those watching the Academy Awards live on television had their audio cut after the slap occurred but were able to see dialogue exchanged between Smith and Rock. The unedited versions then spread throughout social media, revealing that Smith yelled “keep my wife’s name out your f*cking mouth” to Rock after returning to his seat.

This moment then became dubbed as the “Oscars Slap.” It shocked many around the world, becoming a controversial, yet trending topic on the internet. Questions arose on whether the slap was staged, and people began to take sides. Many wonder whether Pinkett Smith had involvement in Smith’s decision to slap Rock. This theory became popular since Smith himself was laughing when Rock first made his G.I. Jane joke, while Pinkett Smith was not. Some viewers were confused as to how one could laugh at a joke and then angrily slap the joke-teller in anger only seconds later.

Less than a month after the incident, the Academy Awards released a statement announcing that Smith had been banned from attending any of their events for the next 10 years. Smith then publicly addressed the incident and apologized to Rock in both an Instagram post and a video that was published on his YouTube channel.

Fast-forwarding to this year, Rock has responded to the “Oscars Slap” in a comedic way. His new comedy special, Selective Outrage, was released on Netflix on March 4. It was streamed live and then edited. Rock joked about various things, including other celebrities, and told stories to his audience to show how our world contains “selective outrage.” As part of his examples, he mentioned the Smith couple and the slap.

“Yes. It happened. I got smacked like a year ago,” the comedian said. He then said that Smith “practices selective outrage.” His reasoning for this opinion was that Pinkett Smith’s relationship with singer August Alsina, who is much younger than her, became known publicly and angered her husband. “She hurt him way more than he hurt me. Okay? Everybody in the world called him a b*tch, and who does he hit? Me.”

A source told Entertainment Tonight that Smith is “embarrassed and hurt by what Chris said about him and his family in his Netflix special.” While Smith supposedly did not watch the special, he and Pinkett Smith have seen internet comments about it and discussed it with people they know. In terms of comments from the general public, Twitter users have been expressing their varying opinions. Considering the slap occurred a year ago at this point, some say that the topic no longer matters, and that Rock is being insensitive by continuing to bring it up and publicly poke fun at the Smith family. Others argue that Rock deserved to be slapped, or that he should not be criticizing Pinkett Smith.

The topic of ethics, morality and public image also continue to be brought up, as the question of whether Will Smith’s sudden act of violence was justified or inappropriate is in debate.

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Olivia Dumornay is a Junior at Florida State University majoring in Media and Communication Studies and minoring in Sociology. She is currently an Associate Editor for Her Campus at FSU, where she oversees a group of staff writers, edits their submitted articles on a weekly schedule prior to publishing, and more. You can find Olivia rambling about K-Pop and other favorite music artists of hers, films, makeup and fashion trends, and more. She spends her free time dancing, re-watching her "comfort" shows, and going out with friends and family.