Well, just like Chris Rock and many others, I’m still trying to process the events of Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony, which were highlighted (although that’s not the right word) by the moment when Will Smith — upset by a joke about his wife Jada’s hair — strode onto the stage and slapped the comedian. (Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, which causes hair loss and has led her to regularly buzz her hair.) About 30 minutes later, Smith won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard.”
Thus far, Rock has chosen not to press criminal charges, and referred only briefly to the incident during a standup performance Wednesday in Boston. As I write this, accounts differ as to whether Academy officials formally asked Smith to leave the ceremony after the slapping incident. The Academy is investigating the incident and could take action against Smith — the consensus seems to be that the actor might be suspended from the Academy for a year or longer, which wouldn’t stop him from working but would bar him from attending Academy events during the suspension. He still would be eligible for a nomination, since Academy membership is not required for eligibility. (Smith announced on Friday that he had resigned from the Academy, although the investigation into the incident continues.)
In his acceptance speech, Smith noted that Richard Williams, the man he played in “King Richard” and the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, was a “fierce defender of family.” Smith went on to say this: “I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Here are a couple of additional things to consider: Sunday night wasn’t the first time Rock had poked fun at the Smiths from the Oscar stage. During the 2016 Oscars, the Smiths were among those celebrities who boycotted the show because the nominees in the acting categories all were white. Rock, who was hosting the Oscar show that year, joked about it: “Jada says she not coming, protesting. I’m like, ain’t she on a TV show? Jada is going to boycott the Oscars — Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
Also, there’s this: Rock is the producer of “Good Hair,” a documentary which chronicles the journey of Black hair. So, presumably, he should know more about the impact of alopecia.
So, yes, there’s a lot to process here. It’s also interesting that the movie with the most Oscar nominations (but just one win, for director Jane Campion) was “The Power of the Dog,” which is on some level about toxic masculinity. And, if you want to take an even deeper dive into this mess, consider this conversation from the Times with four of its opinion writers.
In the meantime, if you were tracking how well I fared in my Oscar predictions, you know that I had a better night than Chris Rock: I went 21 for 23, my best performance in the years since I’ve been predicting Oscar winners. But I have to be honest: It wasn’t so much my skill as it was that these particular Oscars turned out to be remarkably easy to predict — almost drearily so, as these critics for The New York Times lamented.
The two categories I missed were original screenplay, which went to “Belfast” instead of my pick, “Licorice Pizza;” and animated short, where my longtime admiration for the work of Aardman Studios compelled me to choose the Aardman entry, “Robin Robin,” instead of the winner, “The Windshield Wiper.”
Now, about my Oscar prediction contest: One of the rules I’ve had from the outset is that if no contestant beats my mark for predictions, I don’t award the prize — in this case, a $20 gift card to Darkside Cinema. I didn’t have that many contestants this year, and — to make a long story short — no one beat me. But I’m going to give away the gift card anyway, to James K. Chambliss, who clocked in with a very respectable 19-4 mark, good enough most years to beat me. Nice work. Let’s try it again next year, without the slap, please.
CORRECTION: This post originally reported that Smith would not be eligible for any of the Academy Awards if he were to resign or be expelled from the Academy. However, Academy membership is not required for a nomination. The post has been updated.