There is exquisite power in fame, formality and fashion. It has a way of blinding people to the brawl right in front of them.
Because when one sheds the rituals and glitz associated with the Oscars, TV viewers witness brawls as actor Will Smith assaulted comedian Chris Rock in front of a live audience.
The reasons why someone hits another human being are complicated and often only vaguely related to the triggering event – in this case, Rock’s mean joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
Will Smith appeared to acknowledge the complexity of his feelings as he offered the first of two mea culpas. The first, just minutes after the attack, when he accepted the Oscar for best actor, was a tearful and apologetic rant in which he portrayed himself as a flawed guardian angel just trying to do the work God has chosen him to do would have .
“Love will make you do crazy things,” Smith said during that speech, thinking that really wasn’t true.
Love can make a person rebuke an offensive comic. It could make them consider all sorts of irrational actions. But love doesn’t force them to act like a violent brute and then wait a day before publicly apologizing to the person they actually spanked.
Immediately after the violence, the Oscar audience applauded. Smith celebrated. And many of his fans defended him.
In fact, Smith was nothing more than the souped-up equivalent of a street-corner gangster, throwing punches because someone disrespected their girlfriend, soiled their sneakers, or just gave them the wrong look. This guy’s feelings are also complicated. The violence is about more than that defining moment.
To paraphrase fellow candidate Denzel Washington, who was trying to calm an overexcited Smith: The devil doesn’t just come for a person in their prime, the devil is always lurking.
Today’s culture has little patience for the aggrieved thug in t-shirt and jeans, lucky when his power stretches the length of a street corner – but has enough stamina to dissect a mogul’s psychic pain in a bespoke dolce & Gabbana tuxedo.
It has what it takes to pause and consider the complexities of a powerful black man who says he protected his powerful black woman — though it rarely has the patience to deal with anonymous black people just trying to get by.
Make no mistake, money and fame are no antidote to despair. But both come with privileges.
Society is quick to shun, stigmatize and belittle the working-class street fighter. The local police are flagging him as a troublemaker. Maybe his job will get wind of his behavior and find a reason to send him home. At least he is called a tyrant.
Business thugs who cause physical harm with their duplicity and greed usually get a slap in the face.
So what is the penalty for assault while wearing a designer tuxedo? What are the ramifications of hitting another human being while enjoying financial success, social status, and cultural influence? What’s the fair response to endangering someone else’s well-being while claiming a coveted spot on the A-list?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board is considering what actions it could take, which could range from inaction to the recall of Smith’s Oscar.
A lot of history was made at the 94th Academy Awards.
coda Actor Troy Kotsur became the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar. Ariana DeBose was the first openly gay black actress and the first Afro-Latina actress to win an acting award. Questlove is Oscar-winning summer of the soul documented a historic celebration of music in Harlem. And Smith’s actor wins for King Richard was notable in that he is only the fifth black man to be so honored.
But the night will be remembered as the one Smith was willing to turn the Oscar stage into the scene of a brawl over a fleeting disrespectful punch.
The violence began after Rock joked that Pinkett Smith’s buzz cut was for a sequel to GI Jane. Those who follow Pinkett Smith on social media or closely follow her public statements were most likely aware that her shaved head is due to alopecia — the autoimmune condition that causes hair loss.
Others outside of her denominational loop may have just assumed she made a style choice.
As the camera pivoted to capture her reaction, her gaze was on Rock – the high collar of her emerald green evening dress framing her face with his high cheekbones and elegantly arched brows. Extravagant earrings stood next to her shaved scalp.
She looked great. And dissatisfied.
She rolled her eyes in response to Rock’s leaden comment. She was probably the only one in the audience who didn’t feel obliged to the circumstances of the evening.
She was not a hostage to glitz and grandeur and frills. She didn’t laugh or smile politely. She sat in that thin Hollywood air and let her emotions breathe a little.
Her husband choked. But first he laughed. Maybe he found the joke funny. Maybe he laughed because that’s an actor’s instinct when the cameras are on you and you’re squeaky clean for fame and the odds of winning first prize.
But then Smith stopped smiling. And instead of turning to his wife, he puffed himself up.
He made the long walk to the stage, slapped Rock in the face, went back to his seat and yelled expletives at the stunned comedian.
Smith was not escorted out of the building. He wasn’t scolded off the stage by anyone from the academy. Instead, he was celebrated in a haze of pomp and glitter. His power remains. And thanks to Smith, the disrespect blossoms all the more.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/privilege-and-power-cant-hide-the-fact-that-will-smith-spit-polished-his-act-of-thuggery-41505412.html Privilege and power cannot hide the fact that Will Smith polished his brawl to a high gloss