Will Smith is Not Okay

I skip blogging about the Oscars for one year, and this happens?

This has been the news all day. Not Ukraine, not Coronavirus. Twitter glommed onto this like a starving man set loose in a donut factory. So did I. Ever since I heard about it this morning (I didn’t watch the telecast, because of course I didn’t. I didn’t even know they were on), I’ve been laughing about it. This is the QMZ-trash we’ve been wanting for a while.

We’ve had dumb debates on it. Will Smith is either a virtuous man defending his wife’s honor, or a pathetic, emotionally-abused manchild who had a tantrum. Or the whole thing is fake, a staged controversy to spice up an otherwise dull Oscar night or distract from whatever chicanery the government’s up to.

I think the Aliens are doing something to the water. It’s impossible to say.

Regardless, we can all agree that Will Smith is in a bad place. If this thing happened just as we saw it happen, then something very clearly snapped. Because that wasn’t a monstrous joke (it wasn’t clever, either. “G.I. Jane”? What year is this?). It was standard vanilla Oscar fare. If this was the last straw, that camel was laden.

Why? Everyone has theories. But this man has been famous for thirty years. He’s been a household name since I was in high school. He’s achieved and done things most men could only dream of. And he’s so unhappy that an Oscar Monologue joke (did Chris Rock even write it?) set him off. There’s something unstated going on.

More to the point, why does anyone care? Why do I care? Why did I laugh all the way in to work this morning? Was it because someone broke script? Someone decided they weren’t going to just laugh this off? Someone taking a battering ram to the fourth wall? My response is bizarre and cynical. I don’t think Rock merited a slap in the face, but fuck the Oscars anyway? Is that a morally sound take?

Probably not. But the Oscars aren’t a morally sound institution. They likely never have been. They’re a fugazi, pornography, idolatry. Men slap – and worse – other men every day over things even less important. The only reason we noticed this is because that’s not supposed to happen there. It’s unprofessional.

Smith knew that, which makes his behavior the more surprising. This is the equivalent of getting into a fight at work, because really, that’s where everyone involved was. Work. And we don’t act that way at work. It’s not what team players do. Team Players sit there and let Ricky Gervais roast you, let Seth McFarlane make a song and dance number about seeing you naked. Indignities suffered for the team will be reflected in your performance review.

Chris Rock showed great professionalism, allowing himself to be abused so that The Show Would Go On. Twitter idiots will call his words “violence” because they love to sonorously proclaim everything they dislike “violence”.

Chris Rock will probably be back next year. Or not. It hardly matters. At least 500 people will say on the Internet next year that they wish Will Smith would slap whoever the host is. That’s what we do now. I have no answers. I’m not any better.

But Will Smith is not okay.

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