• Jessica Taylor Yates

Did Chris Rock deserve it?

Will Smith punched Chris Rock before winning Best Actor at the Oscars. Was it justified?

Look up ‘Will Smith‘ right now, and he will be trending for all the wrong reasons.

Will Smith punches Chris Rock.

Will Smith screams at Chris Rock.

Will Smith storms the stage at the Oscars.

Jokes, memes, comments and replays for a career spanning almost 40 years in music, tv and movies. A body of work that was meant to be encapsulated tonight, as he was a sure thing for the Best Actor category at the Academy Awards - which he went on to win.

But it was soured.

As has become an instantaneous ‘punchline,’ Chris Rock came out to present an award for Best Documentary. A comedian, he opened with the line, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?”

For context – Demi Moore famously shaved her head to play G.I Jane in 1997. Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, has recently been rocking a shaved head, which some may know is due to her alopecia.

Whether you think it was a low blow or just a joke (I lay in the latter category, personally), Will Smith’s reaction was straight-up insane.

He jumped up, marched on the stage, and in front of millions of viewers watching live, seemed to either slap or punch Chris Rock in the face. Watching live personally, it was still a bit confusing – was this a pre-rehearsed ‘bit’ between the two? No one really got it until Will sat down, still visibly enraged, and Chris Rock said, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me!” Will then screamed out with rage, “Keep my wife’s name out of your FUCKING mouth!” Twice, for emphasis.

The room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Watching, I was aghast. My heart was beating so fast I felt I was in the room. It was just so shockingly awful. Physically and emotionally shaken, Chris continued to try and finish presenting.

And in a moment, Will Smith, who was meant to be celebrating a night for his first Oscar and only the fifth Black man to ever win in the category, ruined everything.

He tarnished a brilliant event that 2,700 people worked tirelessly on – after two years of a pandemic, where the telecast was completely revised to be shorter, sharper, fresher, and an overall enjoyable view. in this outburst, he took away moments that were fun, marvellous, and important to the industry.

Like an amazing intro from Beyonce; a song celebrating Black females in sport.