A man hit another man in front of others in a big occasion. He became emotional. He apologised. His action appeared out of character. The man he assaulted was shocked.
A day later he said sorry to the other man.
In one stroke, everything seemed to have changed. For him. For the other man. And those who were present.
The extent of his remorse is measured by the apology, or the lack thereof. Until perhaps it is a tad too late to say sorry.
It shows. It reflects the sense of entitlement in someone who is audacious enough to hit someone else. Whatever the occasion. And to then rationalise. Using big words like Protection, Love.
Notice I never mention why the man was provoked. You see, it is not the point here. No reason can justify. In this case, actions speak infinitely louder than words.
His actions screamed. They show a side of him that was always there. The slap, or punch. The self-serving rationalising which sounded empty. The one-day-late apology.
It is mystifying. Is his final apology a fear of legal recrimination and a growing groundswell of disapproval?
Does he really regret his actions? If I made a huge shameful mistake, would I go out to the disco and dance the night away?
They say we should forgive. And a full forgiveness includes forgetting. Forgive and forget so to speak.
Putin invades Ukraine. Smith assaults Rock. There is no parallel? Yes, there is. Before we forget this assault, we need to see it for what it is.
The Will Smith imperialism.
On Oscar night, Smith in effect advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated sterotypes about the Black community.
By giving Smith an Oscar, then a standing ovation during his acceptance speech, the Hollywood community seemed cowed into submission by the Prince of Bel-Air or just spinelessly condoning violence.
By resorting to violence, Smith was announcing to the world that his wife was incapable of defending herself. Against words, not imminent physical threat.
And let’s face it, if he was doing what he did to protect his wife, and not his own need to prove his masculinity, he might have been a lot calmer and collected.
Will Smith the thug.
The Black community also takes a major hit from Smith. His actions reinforce racist perceptions that Blacks are more prone to violence and less able to control their emotions.
Ultimately, comedians at large may start questioning the implicit danger of taking risks, pushing the envelope to be funny, ‘bad jokes’ notwithstanding.
The Academy should not normalise violence. Why wasn’t Smith escorted out of the ceremony?
If this will rewrite the terms of engagement for entertainers, whether Chris Rock presses charges or not, Will Smith needs to face the long arm of accountability.
Otherwise there will be a gaping hole left by this year’s Academy Awards that is both destabilising and destructive…