If Will Smith beating Chris Rock taught us anything, it’s that you never know what people are going through.
We could also shift focus to other celebrities whose behavior – to use Gen Z parlance – was not captured in 4K (captured by camera). There are too many examples to list.
Simply because they are “stars,” their behavior draws worldwide attention and compels us to pay attention.
What can we – ordinary people – learn from the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident and other celebrity controversies?
One area that should be addressed is the connection between our professional lives and social media. The way social media has been integrated into all facets of society reflects how we value professionalism.
It records a large part of our interconnectedness and therefore offers a glimpse into our lives afterwards.
This gives employers an opportunity to source potential employees, but it also works as a great marketing tool for politicians or anyone in the public eye.
Will Smith and Kanye West’s recent actions could negatively impact their celebrity status.
However, any damage is likely to be short-lived. Why? Because they are isolated by the fact that they are privileged wealthy black men.
Compare this to the effect similar behavior would have on an ordinary person. The lesson here is that social media can make or break you.
You must always act and behave as if you have everything to lose.
Comedians often get a free pass. At least for them, there is a societal acceptance that there are no borders.
But should they really be free to make fun of people with disabilities or illnesses?
Various presenters have said distasteful things in the past regarding the Oscars. However, they still walked away from the event with their cheeks intact.
Chris Rock chose to ridicule Jada Pinkett Smith, who started losing her hair in 2018.
Understandably, this was very difficult for her on an emotional level. She is aware of this. One can only assume that this is amplified at an event like the Oscars.
Her husband would have been all too aware of her discomfort. He chose to put his wife’s sanity ahead of a cruel and deeply hurtful insult. Thrashing like that was extreme, but Rock’s body-shaming joke hit a sore spot.
There are those who claim that Will Smith was justified in standing up for his family.
“What did Chris Rock say that made Will Smith angry?” is another question people are asking.
We tend to suppress hurtful things said or done to us and appear unfazed when in fact it is killing us inside.
That’s why children are taught from an early age that words matter.
Words are even more effective when they are directed to a person’s individual circumstances or to someone they care deeply about.
Publicly mocking someone’s disability, illness, identity or sexual orientation on an international level is despicable conduct. It’s never acceptable, although Donald Trump did it and got away with it.
Let’s be clear: Will Smith could have handled the situation better. His reputation is now damaged. But as a privileged black man with so much wealth, it won’t do him any irreparable harm.
Chris Rock will continue to sell out gigs just like Kanye West will sell more albums.
An ordinary man or woman doing something similar in front of the world would pay a far greater price.
It is also important to reflect on whether violent behavior is justified at all.
Being annoyed is part of our emotional makeup, but responding with violence, as Smith did, does little to improve anyone’s reputation. In this case, it plays right into the narrative that black men are violent.
As debate continues over whether Smith’s “act of love” is justified, the focus has turned to race, toxic masculinity, intergenerational trauma and mental health.
In the US and elsewhere, police are too quick to draw guns on black men. I fear Will Smith’s position of power is being used to reinforce this.
Similarly, Kanye West, who uses his “creative talent” to film a video in which he is pictured holding Pete Davidson’s head (his ex-wife’s new love interest), will have the same negative effect.
Will Smith took the risk of normalizing dangerous behavior. When he realized he was losing control, he should have apologized immediately. This would have set a dignified role model as a role model. Since his first reaction to Chris Rock’s “joke” was laughter, the slap didn’t do him any favors.
In one night, Smith ruined his image and his actions overshadowed what should have been a big celebration.
Social media is full of videos, photos and memes showing celebrities doing things they shouldn’t be doing. Smith hitting Rock is just another example. The consequences almost always fall short.
Smith’s resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science was accepted. That’s a big blow for him, especially after winning an Oscar. But the news cycle will turn and all will eventually be forgotten.
The consequences of the act of violence will not be serious for those centrally involved. But I hope it shows younger generations the damage caused by toxic masculinity.
This past week has reminded us that language plays a role in all of our interactions with others. We must choose our words carefully.
Unfortunately, the people we look up to or put on pedestals don’t always deserve the credit.
The dangerous notion that public violence is necessary to protect or show love, when taken to the next level, can result in people getting killed.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-slap-that-shook-hollywood-reminds-us-we-need-to-choose-our-words-carefully-41520927.html The slap that rocked Hollywood reminds us to choose our words carefully