Reactions to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at Oscars


(NewsNation) — It was a controversial evening at the Oscars on Sunday.

Will Smith shocked the audience, and everyone watching at home, when he slapped comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

The slap was heard around the world, triggering an array of reactions online:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar published on his Stubstack titled “Will Smith Did a Bad, Bad Thing.”

“By hitting Rock, he announced that his wife was incapable of defending herself—against words. This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor least they swoon from the vapors,” Kareem said.

“Young boys — especially Black boys — watching their movie idol not just hit another man over a joke, but then justify it as him being a superhero-like protector, are now much more prone to follow in his childish footsteps,” Kareem added.

Tim Allen

“It’s not ok to come up on stage and hit a dude cause you don’t like the humor. It’s not ok at a Comedy Club, concert hall or hosting some cheeseball award show. Chris Rock is a stand up comedian and a standup guy who carried on. I think I would have run,” actor Tim Allen tweeted.

Cardi B

“At your highest moment …be careful that’s when the devil tries to come for you,” rapper Cardi B wrote on Twitter.

Alec Baldwin

“I am not reading much about how, or even if, the producers attended to Chris,” Baldwin tweeted.

“But I love you, Chris Rock. And I’m sorry the Oscars turned into the Jerry Springer show,” Baldwin added.

Jim Carrey

“I was sickened. I was sickened by the standing ovation,” Carrey told Gayle King in a “CBS Mornings” interview.

“I’d have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million because that video is going to be there forever, it’s going to be ubiquitous,” Carrey claimed.

“That insult is gonna last a very long time,” Carrey told King.

Kathy Griffin

“Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a comedian,” the comedian tweeted.

“Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters,” Griffin said.

Tiffany Haddish

“I think Chris was messy. As a woman who had a husb, I wish my husb wld have stood up 4 me the way (Will) stood up 4 (Jada). That’s what every woman wants, right? She was hurt. And he protected his wife. And that’s what a man is supposed 2 do,” comedian Tiffany Haddish told the Los Angeles Times.

Mark Hamill

“Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault… not so much. #UgliestOscarMoment_Ever,” the Star Wars actor tweeted with a photo.

Jameela Jamil

“Will Smith said “Not Today”. A man big enough to absolutely floor him, slapped him softly enough that Chris barely moved, because he made fun of his wife’s alopecia on a world stage. Don’t say #protectBlackwomen for two years and then only condemn Will here. Come on…” Jamil tweeted.

Zoe Kravitz

“Here’s a picture of my dress at the show where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now,” Zoë Kravitz posted on Instagram.

“The Batman” star also posted another photo at the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty with the caption, “And here is a picture of my dress at the party after the award show – where we are apparently screaming profanities and assaulting people on stage now.”

Nicki Minaj

“I love Chris Rock. I don’t think he would’ve made that joke had he known what Jada recently shared – but between him & the whole team @ the #Oscars you mean to tell me not ONE of y’all heard this woman just share this heartbreaking story? #ComeOnSon,” the rapper wrote on Twitter.

” …. You just got to witness in real time what happens in a man’s soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a “little joke” at her expense. This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y’all seeing the joke he’s seeing her pain,” Minaj added.

Rosie O’Donnell

“So upsetting – on every level – bravo to Chris Rock – for not eviscerating will smith – which he could do any day of the week – he walked away – bravo from a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman,” O’Donnell tweeted.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)

“#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith. Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a since-deleted tweet, according to The Hill.

On Monday she tweeted that she doesn’t “endorse violence in any form” and tweet replied that she’s “Team Jada always.”

Jaden Smith

“And That’s How We Do It,” Will and Jada’s son tweeted, which has now received more than 1 million likes.

Willow Smith

“You know who’s going through a lot right now? Literally everyone. Just be kind,” Will and Jada’s daughter shared on her Instagram Story.

Serena Williams

“I just sat down ’cause I was like, ‘I gotta put that drink down,’” the tennis star said via a since-deleted Instagram Story, U.S. Magazine reported.

Public figures weren’t the only people with commentary on the incident:

One Twitter user said, “Chris Rock’s joke was messed up. Will Smith’s actions were even more messed up. Smith could have walked up and taken the mic to discuss it, he could have yelled what he did from his seat, or he could have risen above it. Assaulting Rock was the wrong thing to do. No excuse!”

“I don’t care if his wife suffers from alopecia or not. He laughed at the joke himself. The fact that there are people defending him is actually outrageous. Chris Rock got the whole room laughing, Will Smith got the whole room cringing,” another person said on Twitter.

“Awful lessons from the Oscars. After Will Smith assaulted Chris Rock, he received applause. A-list celebs rushed over to comfort him. He was then invited onstage to receive an Oscar, and used his speech to justify his behavior — ‘love made him do it.’ None of this was okay,” another tweet said.

“I support what Will Smith did. What would you do if someone made jokes about your wife when she was sick? There’s a difference between jokes and insults,” read another tweet.

In a Monday night Instagram post, Smith issued a public apology:

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith wrote.

“I 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.”

Jada Pinkett Smith also called for “healing” in an Instagram posted Tuesday.

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