It’s the slap that has now been seen all over the world, the moment Will Smith made his way to the stage and hit comedian Chris Rock live during the Oscars over a joke made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock referenced Pinkett Smith’s bald head and quipped, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it."
The 50-year-old Pinkett Smith was diagnosed with alopecia in 2018 and has been public about her struggles with not being able to grow her hair.
There are levels of debate happening as people process the incident. Was Chris right or Will? Is this a defense or a display of toxic masculinity? How far is too far for a comedian? A Twitter Space titled “Will Smith Did What!?!?” hosted over 8,000 participants at one point.
But first, of course, the incident was memed with a speedy turnaround.
Online, people have been divided into two distinct factions. There are those showing support for Rock...
...while many have backed Smith and believe his actions were justified given the context.
Some people suggested that the attack was representative of toxic masculinity and warned that the responses praising Smith were normalizing violence.
And it has reignited the age-old conversation over comedy, commentators, and what is considered off-limits.
During his acceptance speech for Best Actor, which he won for his portrayal of tennis coach Richard Williams, father to Serena and Venus, Smith led by referencing Williams’ reputation as a “fierce defender” of his family. The father of three apologized to everyone for the incident but did not apologize to Rock.
It isn’t the first time Smith has struck someone. Back in 2012, the actor slapped a Ukrainian reporter-turned-prankster Vitalii Sediuk after Sediuk attempted to kiss him during a red carpet interview in Moscow.
“He’s lucky I didn’t sucker punch him,” Smith told his team before composing himself during the 2012 incident.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posted that it “does not condone violence” meanwhile show producer Will Packer also appeared to chime in, writing on Twitter, “Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring #Oscars.”