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Will Smith slapping Chris Rock was "spit-polished thuggery and disrespect"

  • "There’s an exquisite power embedded in fame, formality and fashion. It has a way of blinding people from the thuggery right in front of them," says Robin Givhan. "Because when one strips away the rituals and glitter associated with the Oscars, thuggery is what television viewers witnessed when actor Will Smith assaulted comedian Chris Rock in front of a live audience. The reasons that anyone lashes out at another human being are complicated and often are only vaguely connected to the precipitating event, which in this case was Rock’s mean-spirited joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. The actor seemed to acknowledge the complexity of his emotions when he offered the first of two mea culpas. The first, only minutes after the assault when he accepted the Oscar for best actor, was a tearful and excuse-laden ramble in which he cast himself as a flawed guardian angel who was simply trying to do the work that God had chosen him to do." Givhan adds: "Yet Smith was really nothing more than the gussied-up equivalent of a street corner punk who throws punches because someone disrespected his girlfriend or sullied his sneakers or just looked at him the wrong way. That guy’s emotions are complicated, too. The violence is about more than that pivotal moment. To paraphrase fellow nominee Denzel Washington, who tried to calm an overwrought Smith, the devil doesn’t just come for a person during their highest moment, the devil is always lurking."


    • Hollywood executives say Will Smith "is not kryptonite yet": “He has to sit in the penalty box for a bit," one anonymous studio executive told The Hollywood Reporter. "He’s going to do some interview with someone like Gayle King and it will kind of wash away.” Another studio executive wonders, however, if Smith will get anymore TV or movie jobs since he'll be peppered with questions about The Slap to promote it. “I think (studios) would think twice — do they need the aggravation?” he says. “Everyone would do the equation. ‘I’ve got Will Smith but now I’ve got this baggage and they’re going to re-show the slap. Do I need that, and is so-and-so available?’"
    • The Slap is unlikely to derail Smith's career: "Though the altercation will almost certainly be a topic of conversation while he promotes future projects, industry insiders do not believe the incident will completely derail Smith’s career provided he does the necessary damage control," explain Variety's  Brent Lang, Rebecca Rubin and Matt Donnelly. He’s already relatively selective in his work in front of the camera and, through his multimedia company Westbrook, he has recently taken a larger interest in producing movies and shows. Now that he secured an Academy Award, insiders suggest, he may be less interested in seeking out starring vehicles....Even though most studio executives and insiders expect that Smith will continue to be in demand, his days as a reliable box office draw were waning even before slap-gate."
    • Pedro Almodóvar says close up, Smith sounded like a cult leader in his Oscar speech: The Oscar-winning filmmaker recounted sitting near Smith during Sunday's telecast in an Indiewire essay, writing: “I was very close to the protagonists. What I saw and heard produced a feeling of absolute rejection in me. Not only during the episode, but afterward, too, in the acceptance speech — a speech that seemed more like that of a cult leader.”

    TOPICS: Will Smith, ABC, 94th Academy Awards, Chris Rock, Pedro Almodovar, Award Shows