The Oscar slap: Ayala takes a side

Pooja Singamsetty

This year’s Oscars was a whirlwind of drama when the notorious “Oscar Slap” aired on live television where American stand up comedian Chris Rock delivered a risky joke about Will Smith’s wife being bald which resulted in the smack of the century. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, has been known since 2018 to have alopecia, a disease notorious for causing hair loss, which promptly influenced Smith to shave her head. Seeing as how this sensitive topic was turned into the subject of award show humor, Will Smith jumped out of his seat to come to Jada’s defense, but not before enjoying a slight chuckle at the joke.  

The joke in question? 

“Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it. Alright?” Chris Rock said. 

In response to the risque comment on her hair, Smith was seen rolling her eyes and watched as her husband climbed up on stage to deliver a humbling slap to Rock’s face in front of a stunned audience.  

In retrospect, Smith apologized for his actions stating that he “would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.” 

As for Rock, the state of his apology is still a matter of public debate with many claiming that his apology was fake while others defended his response.

Rock’s apology to the Smith family “is fake and didn’t come from Rock,” due to numerous spelling errors and a representative of the comedian telling the Associated Press in an email that the apology was not issued from Rock himself. The apology consisted of Rock’s supposed remorse for the situation as he explained that “as a comedian it can be difficult to understand which lines are to be crossed and which ones aren’t.” 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the organization that hosts the Oscars ceremony, also shed light on the situation expressing that “the Academy does not condone violence of any form.” 

When the controversial issue was taken to the campus of Ayala, many students were very opinionated in who they believed was in the wrong. Out of 25 votes collected, 40 percent of voters were “team Will,” 44 percent were “team Chris,” and 16 percent were neutral on the altercation.

Many people who sided with Rock stated that he “handled the situation perfectly,” or that Smith was overreacting since it was a mere G.I. Jane joke. It was also taken into account that it is not morally right to physically assault someone unless another person is in immediate physical danger.

Supporters of Rock also mentioned the fact that Smith had laughed at the problematic joke before reacting irrationally. The idea that violence was exhibited over a small joke at what was supposed to be a peaceful and classy evening was very upsetting to many Bulldogs as Smith shouldn’t have acted this way. 

Those who leaned more towards Smith’s side did so because he was “defending his wife.” Many Smith supporters expressed their dislike towards the unnecessary joke that put Jada Pinkett Smith’s vulnerable illness at the forefront of cocktail humor. The inclinations towards Smith’s actions come from a place of compassion and respect towards Smith’s wife who did not deserve to be humiliated in such a way. 

The neutral voters appealed to the idea that both parties were in the wrong and therefore taking sides would be irrational. Majority of the people who voted neutral stated that “there was no reason for the joke to be made, and there was no reason for the slap to have taken place,” thus enforcing the idea that both Rock and Smith have lots to learn from this experience.

In lieu of the outrageous drama that occurred at this year’s Oscars, many students of Ayala have voiced their opinions on the situation, picking sides or avoiding to do so for different reasons.

Majority of the Bulldogs involved in the poll had voted for Rock on the basis that such irrational actions should not be accepted over such a minor controversy. Coming in a close second were the supporters of Will Smith who took a look at the provocation of the slap in the first place, a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife who is known to have alopecia. Some students were neutral on the issue believing that neither Rock or Smith were in the right.

Overall, the notorious slap has become the topic of major debates with arguments from both sides being cohesive and valid. As for Ayala, opinions have varied greatly but a close majority sympathize with Rock and disagreed with the violent reaction from Will Smith.