The spectacle of comedian Chris Rock being assaulted at the Academy Awards by Will Smith reveals something fundamentally wrong, even sick, about American society, overwhelmed as it is with violence and cancel culture.
For those who missed the best primetime television in many years, the comedian Chris Rock, while performing a routine at the 94th Academy Awards, cracked a lame joke about the actor Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2,” he quipped, a reference to the woman’s shaved head due to a hair loss condition brought about by an autoimmune disease she suffers from.
Seen laughing at first, Smith, realizing that his wife was not favorably impressed with being the butt of a joke, strolled on stage and delivered a resounding smack to the side of Rock’s face. Smith then returned to his front-row seat, where he hurled expletive-filled comments. Perhaps the only thing that saved the situation from requiring the National Guard was Rock’s remarkable ability to keep the show going.
Smith’s behavior was so shocking that – aside from momentarily halting talk of World War III in its tracks – it had many viewers convinced it was a publicity stunt, a staged event to boost sagging viewership of America’s premier bonfire of the vanities. Will Smith may be a good actor, but he’s not that good. That fact is, we have wandered precariously far from our grandparents’ – even from our parents’ – halcyon days of America.
Smith’s erratic behavior serves as a metaphor for a nation that is now tearing itself apart with gratuitous violence, much of which has been engendered by Hollywood itself, and not just with the devilish, blood-stained productions it churns out annually.
Consider the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, for example, which saw numerous looters, arsonists, and thieves – responsible for a billion-dollar wave of private property destruction that stretched coast-to-coast – being released from prison thanks to the benevolent intervention of Hollywood actors like Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, and Ben Schwartz (all of whom can afford to live in high-security gated communities, by the way), who happily bailed them out of their incarceration. What kind of example does that set for society, especially the more criminally-minded?
And what about Jussie Smollett? In 2019, this Hollywood actor staged a hate crime against himself, sending the overworked Chicago Police Department on a wild goose chase for ‘white supremacists’ that only existed in his febrile imagination. What price did Smollett pay for hiring two Nigerian brothers to enact a crime scene of racist violence, which included the highly provocative plot device of a noose? On March 10, Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in county jail. Yet his attorneys immediately filed an appeal, posted bond, and today the young man is already back on the streets.