By Kaytlin Thornton | Contributor
Photo credit: Mirko Fabian via Pexels
Will Smith won an Oscar at the 94th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27, for his portrayal of Richard Williams in “King Richard.” Shortly before that, he smacked Chris Rock in the face on national television for making a joke about his wife’s lack of hair and no one has been able to talk about anything else since.
Everyone seems to have their own opinion on the subject, including many South students. Some, like senior Taylor Strickland think that Smith’s actions were completely uncalled for.
“It was the opposite of professionalism,” Strickland said. “As someone in Hollywood, he has to be prepared to be a role model, and that wasn’t role model behavior.”
Sophomore nursing major, Carol Storey agreed with that, stating, “While his emotions were valid, he acted out in a moment of rage and his actions have negatively affected not only his own reputation but the image of the black community in film. His moment of anger also drastically took away from the meaning of the moment for everyone else there.”
However, some are arguing that Will Smith’s actions were justified given that Jada Pinkett Smith has a condition called alopecia that prevents her from being able to grow her hair out. Though Chris Rock claims to not have known about this before the Oscars, some students don’t think that absolves him.
South Student Abby Sargent said in Smith’s defense, “He was totally in the right. Chris Rock shouldn’t have been commenting on any part of Jada’s appearance, even if he didn’t know it was related to a medical condition. I would be angry too if someone was talking about my wife like that, especially if I thought it was coming from a place of malice.”
There are also those who are claiming that the whole event was staged in order to bring attention to the Oscars, which in recent years have been falling in ratings. Freshman Abigail Eldridge and Junior communications major Claire Rockwell are both of this opinion.
“It was definitely staged,” Eldridge said. “They’re both actors so that’s the only thing that makes sense. They were both probably trying to bring some attention to themselves seeing as Chris Rock’s comedy shows are now sold out.”
Claire Rockwell agrees with this, “I personally think it was faked for publicity, especially considering the writing and producing that goes behind all these award shows.”
Freshman Daniel Fleming, a member of JagTV, looks at the incident with a different lens, thinking the public reaction is more interesting than the incident itself.
“I think there’s an interesting dichotomy between the way the ‘public’ response reacts by criticizing Will Smith as opposed to the way a lot of regular people react by saying he was justified,” Fleming said, “As there’s this false pretense of being a reformed society when, in reality, we have a very long way to go.”
Whether or not you think Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars was justified or not, one thing is certain: the 94th Annual Academy Awards will continue to be talked about for years to come.