Typically, the Oscars is a fairly boring event. Sure, it’s hosted by comedians, but the milquetoast humor rarely gets a reaction from viewers at home. And as for the celebrities actually attending the Oscars, they mostly react to the humor on display with little more than polite laughter.
All of that changed this year, however. After Chris Rock made a G.I. Jane joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith reacted by storming the stage and slapping Chris Rock. And even as the audience and those watching on TV or online tried to figure out if this was a bit or not, an emotional Smith told Rock to keep Jada’s name out of his mouth in an unforgettably vulgar way.
Much of this was censored or not shown on certain broadcasts, so figuring out what happened meant stringing together footage from different global broadcasts just to see the exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock. Now, however, new footage has revealed an answer to what everyone has been asking: how did Jada react to her husband’s spontaneous, violent actions?
We’ve got the video you’ve been waiting for along with information about the consequences that Will Smith could still face for his actions.
The joke that started it all
Due to censorship, many saw only parts of the interaction between Will Smith and Chris Rock. And this meant that thousands of people found themselves asking the same question: “what the heck did Chris Rock say?”
As it turns out, the joke was fairly innocuous. Rock simply said, “Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2.” It’s admittedly not very funny, and the humor is meant to come from the fact that Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a shaved head, has a faint resemblance to Demi Moore’s shaven-headed character in G.I. Jane.
However, Jada suffers from a condition known as alopecia that causes her to lose her hair, and she shaved her head last summer due to this. Because of this, many felt the joke (which LADbible reports was an ad-lib and not part of the original script) was a low blow. Will Smith even laughed at the joke until he saw Jada roll her eyes, which apparently caused Smith to storm the stage.
Will Smith and Chris Rock’s history called into question
Hollywood movies are all about pitting good guys against bad guys. So it’s only natural for people to wonder whether Chris Rock was the bad guy (for telling an offensive joke mocking someone’s genetic condition) or Will Smith was the bad guy (for attacking Rock and shouting vulgarities at the stage).
However, the more fans dug into the incident, the worse each man seemed to be. This was especially true when fans dug up some “hair-raising” incidents from each man’s past.
For example, Chris Rock actually produced a 2009 documentary called Good Hair. The focus of that documentary is on Black women’s hair and what looks are considered unacceptable or not in American culture. So Chris Rock of all people should know not to mock a Black woman’s hair at all, much less a Black woman suffering from alopecia. And since the joke was an ad-lib, that meant Rock himself went out of his way to mock Jada’s hair in front of millions of people.
However, Smith’s own history is pretty shocking. MTO News reports that Will Smith got into a fight in 1989 with record promoter William Hendricks. Things got heated enough that Smith allegedly ordered his bodyguard to attack Hendricks, and this nearly blinded the promoter. Charges were later dropped, but Smith actually spent a night in a Philadelphia jail due to the incident.
Additionally, an old clip of Will Smith on The Arsenio Hall show recently went viral. In it, Smith mocks Arsenio Hall’s bass player for being bald. When some audience members react negatively, Smith turns to them and says “it’s a joke, come on!”
Smith’s own words make reacting to another person’s bald joke make his anger at Rock seem hypocritical. Meanwhile, his alleged violent past showcases just how much worse than a slap this incident could have been!
By now, we have all seen Jada’s eye-roll reaction to Chris Rock’s joke that apparently set her husband off. However, newly-released footage from an attendee’s cellphone shows what we’ve all been waiting for: Jada’s reaction to the slap!
How Jada reacted to the slap
You can view the video below, but be warned: this video is uncensored and contains foul language.
To some, this video is fairly damning. After all, it appears that Jada is actually laughing at her husband’s violent action. Still, it also caused many others in the audience to laugh, so something about how it appeared in person caused that reaction to many. Also, it’s notable that Jada seems to stop laughing once Will Smith begins screaming at Rock.
Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock on Instagram
One of the most surreal aspects of that night was that Will Smith was not escorted out of the building. In fact, he went on soon after to win the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard. Notably, Smith did not apologize to Rock when he went on stage to accept his award.
However, Smith later issued a public apology to Rock via Instagram. In the apology, he decries “destructive” violence, acknowledges that he reacted emotionally, and formally apologizes to Chris Rock as well as the Oscar producers, attendees, and The Academy itself.
For some, this apology was enough penance. But it looks like Smith may face additional consequences for his actions.
Possible consequences Will Smith faces
At the time of the slap, Smith faced seemingly no consequences. There were early stories claiming that the Academy asked Smith to leave and he declined, but TMZ reports that the actor was never actually asked to leave the premises after the incident.
A couple of hours after the slap, the Academy tweeted out a condemnation of violence. However, many fans, actors, producers, and directors felt that Smith should face more consequences than this kind of indirect online critique.
And it looks like they might get their wish. PBS reports that the Academy’s board of governors met last week to discuss possible disciplinary action against Smith. These actions could include a formal reprimand, suspension, or expulsion from the Academy. Additionally, it is possible for the Academy to revoke an award after it has been given, meaning that Smith’s Oscar could be in jeopardy.
Smith was given a chance to defend himself in writing before the next board meeting on April 18. However, Smith pre-emptively decided to resign from the Academy. The Hollywood Reporter obtained a statement from the actor that read, “My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home.”
Continuing, Smith said, “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.”
It’s likely that Smith’s decision was made to avoid further embarrassment. Deadline reports that the Academy told Smith he might be expelled for a decade or even longer. Resigning now basically lets Smith leave on his own terms, and the Academy has accepted his resignation. However, they will still consider other disciplinary actions when they meet in April.
Smith says he is willing to accept further consequences, but is he likely to lose his Oscar? In a word, no. Whoopi Goldberg is part of the board of governors and set as much on The View. According to Yahoo! Finance, Goldberg bluntly stated, “We’re not going to take that Oscar from him.” And sources speaking to deadline corroborated that this option was never on the table.