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Some Thoughts on the Will Smith and Chris Rock Incident

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not a nice thing to do

not a nice thing to do

What Can I Say?

Well it seems like a lot of people are talking about what happened at the Oscars in March of 2022...well maybe a few perhaps no one really.

I don't own a television, I don't watch movies anymore, and I don't really care for the Hollywood elite, but this incident had me thinking about a few things. First, this was an act of violence, and it was captured on camera. Second, it involved people from the Hollywood elite. People in this group have, literally gotten away with murder. Third, I have seen reports chime in on race and what it says about black men. Of course, this leads to another series of possible discussions, a few which many people are afraid to have.

I actually didn't care about this at first, but then after thinking about it, decided that maybe I would share a few of my opinions. Maybe stir up the pot a bit, or at least get a few things off my chest. Writing can be very therapeutic.

So, if you are easily offended, please stop now. (I promise this won't be too offensive). But if you have an open mind reader, please, keep browsing. I appreciate having you in the audience and at least giving me a few minutes to say a few things.

Comedy Jokes

I'm a little surprised that Smith reacted the way he did. I don't know what it was that made him so offended. If you look at the history of comedy, much of it is based on insult. In fact, some of the most famous comedians around were known for the tactics that included being rude and mean. And of course, everyone loves misery. A glass of schadenfreude helps wash down a plate of one's own misfortunes.

Rock and Smith are both known for their efforts in the comedy genre and in many of their films, they are purposefully insulting, often picking out people who have disabilities or other struggles. In fact, there are those that say the root of comedy lies in finding faults and bringing them to light. Some people believe that laughter is a medicine and that it is a good thing to find delight, even when talking about those whose misfortunes are physically, emotionally, or economically crippling.

There are numerous comedians who have disabilities and write about them.Ted Shiress, in his article Disability and Comedy: a personal perspective, writes "I talk about my disability a lot on stage but that's mainly because I feel the best art lies where there is angst – me discussing my disability on stage is like John Lee Hooker singing about mistreating his ex". Shriess talks about being a performer suffering (should I use that word?) from Cerebral Palsy.

Of course you could look at other jokes which are labeled, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. and wonder where to draw the line. It is funny when you see someone like Chris Rock in Down to Earth (a film in which Rock dies and comes back as a white man) make jokes about being black, but when the character is white and tells the same jokes, he becomes offensive.

Scene from Down to Earth

Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think.

— Moliere

What If???

While watching this, I wondered what would have happened if someone other than Smith would have assaulted a celebrity on live television. I doubt that anyone - normal - would have been able to even approach the stage. And I wondered what if it had been a white man that had responded in the way Smith did to a person of color like Rock. If that had been the case, it probably would have made it to the Supreme Court.

I mention this because there are several articles I have read that talk about how this slap says many things about the African American community, especially black men. The stereotype of the black man who is quick to anger and violence have been mentioned in these writings. In one instance, even the daughter of Martin Luther King weighs in on this. An article cites her as implying "Will Smith’s behaviour was disappointing) and ...reinforced the incorrect perception of the Black community (Yasmine Leung, 2022, from What Did Martin Luther King's Daughter Say About Will Smith's Oscars Drama?).

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In a society that is so driven by its reliance of a media that promotes gratuitous sex and violence, Smith's actions seem not only acceptable, but a bit amusing. Why is this? The fact that the members of the Hollywood community - for lack of a better phrase - manage to engage in behavior that would send the average citizen to jail, is a bit puzzling. Of course, the event that happened at the Oscars ceremony seems petty when you consider some of the other stories that are in the current events spectrum, such as the misuse of a firearm that led to someone dying in an Alec Baldwn sponsored film.

But what about the possible double standards such as if Will Smith had been white. Would Hollywood or the community at large have just stood around if a white man had responded that way? Dare I even ask if a white man would have acted the way Smith did? I'm sure you who are reading this know the answer to that question.

Will Smith Assaults Reporter

Does Anyone Care? Should They

In the grand scheme of things, will this thing that happened at an awards ceremony most people don't even care about matter? There are tribes in Borneo who probably never heard about two men named Smith and Rock. Five hundred years ago, people were more concerned about how they were going to acquire dinner for the evening and the next. Five hundred years from now, television and film will be such an antiquated medium, this will be so forgotten that any evidence that it even occurred will be long buried.

How much influence does an Oscar have for that matter. Do any of you reading this even know what such an award implies or where it originated? Is the trophy, of some figure reaching into the air, standing on a black pedestal, made of gold or some other precious metal? I recall reading seeing an interview with Bonnie Tyler who won a Grammy for the song she was most famous for (and it was written by Jim Steinman) and how she said it now serves as a door stop. Will some trophy help you start a fire if you were stranded in the middle of the Alaskan tundra? Will it row your life raft in the middle of the Pacific? Can you eat one?

The Few, the Priveleged Few

When it comes down to it, the elite do what they do...and get away with it.

We all know about the famous and celebrated personalities who have committed crimes - some of them heinous - and never had the benefit of reaping an appropriate punishment. As Bob Dylan says (paraphrase) "rob a rich man they throw you in jail. Steal from a poor man, they make you king." Some people are untouchable. They seem to be beyond punishment and most of us believe they never suffer.

Certainly, everyone feels pain. No one is immune to the various miseries and misfortunes life doles out. No one ultimately escapes the inevitable.

But some people seem to have it easy. Why is it that when a camera catches someone committing a robbery or an assault on the street, it's there for everyone to see. The police put out an APB and everyone becomes a crime-stopper, but when someone famous commits a blatant assault on live TV, everyone stares open mouthed and tries to pretend it didn't happen.

That is a rhetorical question and one I don't think I want to know the answer to.

From a Death Row Inmate (now executed)


A News Story About Comedians Responding to the Incident

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Finn

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