The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did the sensible thing when it was banned Will Smith of its events for a decade. For all the hand-wringing over whether the punishment was too severe or not nearly enough, Smith’s case was a simple one, an overt and closed exception to our culture’s rapidly emerging rule: It’s hard to accept new social norms and the means to enforce them develop them on the fly.
after Smith charged them oscars Slapped on stage and presenter Chris Rock for making a joke at Smith’s wife’s expense, the immediate official reaction appeared to be paralysis. Given the unprecedented nature of the incident, the shock was understandable. Fortunately, the academy recovered from its initial weakness and imposed a severe punishment tailored to the offence.
Smith ruined the most important night of many people’s careers, including his own. Given that, he won’t be coming back for a long time — or getting past the slap anytime soon. It will be revisited next year when he is not present to present the Best Actress award or when he attends another awards ceremony.
The 10-year duration also puts pressure on Smith to prove he’s in control, and fast; It’s a long time for studios to wonder if he’s too moody to work. And the ban is a powerful deterrent to anyone else tempted to break out at future Academy Awards.
Other punishments would have made less sense, for both the Academy and Smith. Making Smith ineligible for future Oscars would enable the academy to make future moral judgments that it would rather stay away from. Forcing him to give back the Oscar he won King Richard would be stupid too. The award was given in recognition of Smith’s professional accomplishments, not his conduct.
The academy made the right decision – partly because it faced a simple problem. Not all incidents that lead to public outrage can be solved so easily. First, there is the problem of getting people to agree on what constitutes a crime. This is especially true amid a raging culture war, in which the sides disagree not only on key issues but on the appropriate ways to discuss them.
In Texas, helping your transgender child get medical attention can mean being investigated for child molestation. According to a federal judge, law students should be barred from a clerkship for disrupting sessions by speakers they disagree with. A new Florida law empowers parents to turn curriculum disagreements into teacher firing offenses.
Trying to resolve these differing beliefs is difficult enough without debating whether people deserve grace periods to adjust to new norms or whether there should be statutes of limitations for old crimes.
Then there is the problem of consequences. There is no moral equivalent of the US Sentencing Commission, and no parole officers whose judgment would be universally accepted if they declared that a former offender deserved forgiveness.
Occupational death is both easier to inflict on ordinary people than on celebrities, and more likely to hit them hard. Disgraced comedian Louis CK may not be able to get hired by a TV network or a film studio. But he has the money and experience to film his own comedy specials and a fandom to find any material he distributes himself.
If Smith never works again, he’ll still be insanely rich. Most people don’t have these reserves of reputation and financial capital to protect them when they become unemployed.
And many interim sentences feel more ramshackle than authoritarian. Is a college setting clear standards against the use of racist language when withdrawing an offer of admission because of an old video, or is it trying to avoid a one-time PR nightmare? Is taking Twitter down on someone you disagree with really an effective sanction, or does it just add to their sense of martyrdom?
Perhaps these dilemmas are inevitable at a time when religious practice is declining, personal distrust of others is growing, and social norms are rapidly changing. In that sense, the aftermath of Smith’s unprecedented meltdown has something old-fashioned about it, maybe even a little reassuring.
Something bad has happened. Everyone agreed it was bad. An institution was available to intervene. Order is restored. The rest of us should be so lucky.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/how-academy-handled-will-smith-debacle-highlights-a-very-modern-dilemma-41548354.html How Academy dealt with Will Smith’s debacle presents a very modern dilemma