Will Smith Physically Assaults Chris Rock Live at the Oscars—for Telling a Joke He Didn't Like

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

On Sunday night in what was probably the most interesting thing to happen at The Academy Awards in decades, actor Will Smith left his seat to smack Oscar presenter Chris Rock squarely—and for real—across the face. The comedian had just made a joke vaguely referencing the hair loss of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, saying, “Jada, I love you, Jada. Can’t wait to see G.I. Jane 2.”

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As the joke sunk in, Smith’s face could be seen going from laughter to rage. And as they say, that’s when the fight broke out. Smith strode angrily onto the stage from his front-row seat in the audience to confront a clearly surprised Rock. Standing directly in front of him, Smith struck Rock once across the face.

After the slap, Smith stomped to his seat and cursed at Rock telling him several times to “keep my wife’s name out of your [expletive] mouth!” For his part, a shocked Rock quickly regained his composure and exclaimed, “Oh wow, wow. Will Smith just smacked the [expletive] outta me” and “Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke” before proceeding to present the nominees for the best documentary.

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In the theater, the confused audience was reduced to stunned silence amid misplaced nervous laughter as they tried to figure out if the altercation was real or part of the show. Sadly, it was real. For the television audience, the networks cut the audio, but the Twitterverse captured it here on the uncensored Japanese feed.

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Meanwhile, the Twitterverse was also left to ponder the realness of the slap while simultaneously exploding with shock, laughter, indignation, and praise—or as I like to call it, Sunday night.

Ha, ha! We see what you did there. He “got in one little fight” and now Will is the one “up to no good, makin’ trouble in my neighborhood.”

Ah, leave it to Twitter and GETTR to go straight to politics!

Oh my! Too soon? Nah, it’s Twitter, where everyone shoots from the hip.

Everything is definitely stupid, especially in Hollywood, where sleeping around is a-ok, but jokes are fighting words and apparently, violence is acceptable as long as you’re an A-lister. Where was security at the Oscars? That thought ought to haunt every one of those well-heeled stars, especially since the aggressor wasn’t a MAGA-hat-wearing rioter but one of their own. Ban all hands! If it saves just one cheek!

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Agreed, Rock handled the situation well at the time, but it’s what he does afterward that counts. Luckily for Smith, for now at least, Rock has declined to press charges. But is that a good thing? Since when is violence okay?

One has to wonder why Rock isn’t pressing charges. If he doesn’t, it’s almost as if he’s condoning what Smith did. Is it now acceptable for performers to be physically attacked for their work simply because it hurts someone’s feelings? This is a watershed moment for comedy and for Hollywood. Will political correctness and hurt feelings win over artistic license? If so, humor really is dead.

Later in the evening, slapper Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor. In his acceptance speech, Smith likened the altercation with Rock to his role in King Richard, saying, “he’d do anything for his family.” Yeah, Will, assaulting a comedian for telling a joke you don’t like is exactly like a dad training his daughters to be world-class tennis players or something. One takes zero self-discipline and the other takes nothing but self-discipline. Smith really needs to own this and not just pay lip service by apologizing to the Academy. In its storied past, the Academy has blackballed and punished actors for far less than what Smith did live on worldwide television. Will the Academy uphold its code of conduct standards and punish Will Smith by revoking his Best Actor Oscar? If not, why not?

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