A sad night for the Academy Awards

We at Face Activities enjoy the Academy Awards, and feel it’s an important cultural and artistic event, not just for the U.S. film industry, but also for the world. Unfortunately an incident occurred that marred this year’s celebration, which we want to address.

Will Smith, angered by a thoughtless joke the emcee, comedian Chris Rock, made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, jumped up on stage and struck Rock, and later shouted obscenities.

The audience was stunned, as were many viewers at home and around the world. This act of violence was unacceptable, unnecessary, and should never have happened. It was in fact a shameful and unfortunate incident staining the history of the Academy Awards.

Though clearly Rock hit a nerve with his joke, there’s a long standing tradition at the Oscar’s for emcees to joke about the celebrity guests, and it’s generally taken in good humor. 

Will Smith’s violent outburst is a terrible example to set for kids and the public at large. And to be absolutely clear, his actions were illegal, and he’s lucky he won’t be held legally responsible, mostly because Chris Rock chose not to file a police report.

Will Smith won an Academy Award that night, 40 minutes after the assault, for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Venus and Sarena Williams’ father (and coach for many years.) It was a strong performance, worthy of recognition. 

But sadly, the violence showcased that evening took away from what should have been a very special moment, a triumphant moment, for the tennis stars, who had labored for years to get this ground-breaking film made.

Smith has subsequently apologized, which of course was the correct thing to do. It remains to be seen what action the academy will take, if any, but in large part the damage has already been done. 

We hope for better days for the academy, and expect better of Will Smith in years to come.