The Oscars were held Sunday at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Several filmmakers and actors made history that night, but the evening was overshadowed by one shocking event. Around halfway through the show, comedian Chris Rock took the stage to present the award for Best Documentary Feature. During his introduction, he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, saying he couldn’t wait for “G.I. Jane 2”. Pinkett, who is bald, suffers from a hair loss condition called alopecia.
After Pinkett clearly took offense to the joke, her husband Will Smith got up on stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face. The live broadcast was interrupted but the audience heard the sound of Smith’s hand hitting Rock’s microphone. Smith then returned to his seat and shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth” twice. Rock seemed to laugh it off before leaving the stage.
Smith later won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard. He apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees but didn’t mention Rock by name.
“I want to apologize to the academy and I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,“ Smith said. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying about winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine light on all of the people. … Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things.”
The Academy strongly condemned the act on social media. “The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the organization tweeted. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
According to the LAPD, Rock declined to press charges against Smith. It’s not clear if the two have worked things out, but many have since criticized Smith for lashing out. Others have come to his defense.
Nurses know what it’s like to witness or suffer from violence and abuse. We asked millions of providers to share their thoughts on what happened and here’s what they had to say:
We don’t want to be smacked in the face on our job now do we? Will could’ve handled this better. Chris Rock definitely earned my respect. He took that hit like a man and kept on going even hearing what Will said. And then he didn’t press charges or file a police report. He’s a man and a husband and took accountability for his actions. Will needs to apologize and do the same!
I lack impulse control too, but he could have just kissed her head and not made such a spectacle out of himself.
Assault is a crime. Chris Rock is a comedian and Jada has looked like that for years. Great example you set, Will Smith.
Chris being deserving or not is not the issue. The escalation of the situation by Will was not okay. Will’s family has been through it the last year mostly prompted by his wife. It’s emotionally a lot I’m sure and he probably snapped. Still doesn’t make it okay.
I think Chris Rock was out of line but violence is never okay. So both of them are in the wrong but one significantly more so…
A smack on the face wasn’t necessary! Everyone knows how comedians are ??♀️
Yes. It was an open-handed slap. I do not believe a grown man could die from being slapped in the face. It wasn’t a death punch, nor stabbing, nor shooting. Chris Rock was out of line and got what he deserved.
I would have been completely humiliated if my husband or boyfriend did this to me. Stand up for me with a strong powerful intelligent voice not with a hand. Be better.
Will and Jada have proved time and time again that they crave the spotlight. Whenever things start to become quiet with them, they pull something like this.
Will was wrong but Chris needs to be careful with his jokes because some things are very sensitive! Glad it ended there!
I think he could have handled it better. No place for violence. If Jada was embarrassed about her alopecia, she would have worn a wig. She speaks openly about it. Chris Rock made a joke. That’s what he is paid to do, to be a comedian. No reason to hit him.
He should have addressed this with Chris later. I don’t feel, personally, that what Will did is ok. He reacted in the heat of anger. Not ok.
I would be furious with my husband for stooping to this level.
I don’t think physical violence is the answer. He could have said something but to get on stage and do that…
The Academy should revoke his Oscar after his man-tantrum and assault on Chris Rock. Regardless of how distasteful a joke may be, Smith never had any right or reason to physically assault Rock. What are we teaching our children if someone can physically assault another adult without any repercussions when any violence in schools has a zero-tolerance policy??
Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions online. These responses have been edited for length and clarity.