The Oscars. Will Smith. The slap.
Unless you’ve been in hiding, almost everyone has at least heard of the incident that took place at this year’s 94th Academy Awards. But in the event you don’t know what happened, here’s a brief summary: comedian Chris Rock took the stage and before reading the names of nominees for the next award, he told some jokes. One of which was aimed directly at Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, regarding her buzzed hairstyle.
Chris Rock said, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2. Can’t wait to see it, alright?”
There were some laughs; however, Jada Pinkett Smith wasn’t laughing. She rolled her eyes, and shortly thereafter, her husband, Will Smith, proceeded to take the stage, smack Chris Rock, and in a serious tone said, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.” Twice. At first, I thought the entire incident was a joke, but as the live show continued and I saw the looks on Will, Jada, and Chris Rock’s faces, this was certainly no laughing matter.
Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia – which is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out, hence the reason why she was styling a shaved head. Clearly, Chris Rock’s joke didn’t sit well with everyone. As the night continued, Will Smith would later win the Academy Award for best actor for his work in King Richard and give a moving speech after his win. In his speech, he highlighted the importance of his call to love and protect those in his life.
And he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees.
As I reflected upon the events that unfolded as I watched the show, I saw Will’s humanity, his sincerity, and his love. At that moment, I didn’t just see a movie star or a guy who slapped someone. I saw a man who was human, caring, and apologetic.
And I also realized and understood that everybody messes up.
We’re all imperfect, we all make mistakes, and surely many of us have had moments where we’ve allowed our emotions to take over. However, what we do with those emotions and how we manage them makes all the difference. This is easier said than done sometimes, though.
The gossip, blame, arguments, and debates about Will’s actions, and the joke Chris Rock made have had many taking sides. And I’m sure it’ll be something that’s talked about for a while. Did Chris Rock take his joke too far? Was Will’s slap justified? Is Jada okay? Who owes who an apology? What will the Academy do moving forward? And more.
Comedians tell jokes – sometimes at the expense of others. And emotions are real. But acknowledging that we’re all human and are capable of messing up allows room for grace, space for growth and improvement, and room for apologies. If you look at your own life and different situations where you or someone you know may have taken a joke too far or abruptly reacted or responded from a place of anger, sadness, or fear, you too would understand that what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock could happen to anyone.
There’s much to be learned from this situation, and hopefully, everyone walks away with a clear mind and fresh perspective that everybody messes up and is a work in progress.