The Slapgate Chronicles
Why I don’t buy Will Smith’s acceptance speech or apology.
In the last 24 hours, I wondered why no one is including the two biggest victims of Will Smith’s Oscars Slapgate in its narrative. We are talking about Will and Chris and their history, Will and Jada and their marriage, Chris and his previous jokes about Jada, the pain of Jada, the tale of the husband the protector; erm, why is no one talking about Venus and Serena Williams?
These two women spent their childhood in Compton, dealt with racism, misogyny, and yet went on to achieve such impressive careers in an elitist white sport, culminating in sitting at the Academy Awards to watch a man pick up the Oscar for a movie about their life.
What they got in return was a man playing their father slap another man on stage, for the whole world to see, forever tarnishing their huge moment.
Honestly, I’d be mind-blowingly pissed if I was them.
When I see people commenting but it was all for Jada and he saw her in pain and … please stop. We just can not go around slapping people saying things we don’t like.
If his obvious manic episode really needed to bounce off of something, he could have just said what he said, from his chair: “Leave my wife’s name out of your mouth”. Still far from classy, but leave the “fucking” part out and leave the — going to the stage to slap a man part out, it could be chewed. Swallowed.
Instead, he decided to walk up to the stage and assault another man on international television, before he called himself ”a vessel of love” in his acceptance speech.
I see lots of people commenting he didn’t punch him, it was just a slap, like that somehow makes it less violent. The slap is worse than a punch here. Slap is the highest form of disrespect. You slap an annoying teenager for talking back or coming home after curfew, not a grown man who is your equal.
But it was all for Jada? Let me respect my wife by disrespecting someone else? Got it.
Everyone wrote 658 analyses into Will and Jada, it went deep into “slavery and white supremacy’s history that has a deep root in what happened tonight”. The black woman’s hair, the protection of the black woman. Everyone in this scenario had a space where they were allowed to be hurt, emotional, losing it.
But does Chris also have some space where he could be something? Feel something? Hurt about something? Losing it?
He actually does. More than these two. I’ll get back to that later.
It was reported last night that Chris Rock did not write the GI Jane joke. The Academy writing staff did. It was also reported that Chris didn’t know about Jada’s alopecia.
I didn’t know about it. And I surely scroll Instagram timelines more than Chris Rock.
He said it himself, “it’s a GI Jane joke”. GI Jane is a beautiful badass woman, how can comparing anyone to her be meant as an insult?
It was clear Will is going through something.
I am, as it seems the rest of the world is too, totally puzzled by Will and Jada’s relationship. The number of details they share about their marriage, then complain about people being too noisy about it or too judgmental about it, makes me think this game of oversharing than complaining gives them some sort of weird satisfaction. Maybe it makes them hard for each other.
Great! Happy for them. But can we be excluded from it?
Open marriage, not an open marriage, divorcing, not divorcing, him telling GQ he dreams about the harem of 20 women, Jada going to the Wireless Festival in London to meet her son, where she meets his friend the rapper August Alsina. Then sits herself on Red Table Talk to tell us all how she met him when he was 23, in her words:
“I started a friendship with August four and a half years ago, and we became really, very good friends, and it all started with him simply needing some help, and me trying to help his health and mental state. The outpouring for him from our family was first about his health.
We used all of those different services to help him get through it, and then you and I had a very tough time.”
Will then responds — “I was done with your ass, but marriages have that,” to which Jada responded, “We broke up.” And Will says, “And then what did you do, Jada?”
He literally pushes his wife to talk about her side piece, her son’s friend, a 23-year-old, on one of the most-watched digital talk shows.
She also really, really wants to give us those details:
“As time passed, I became entangled in a different kind of entanglement with August,” she explained. “It was a connection, obviously,” she said when Will asked what she meant by entanglement.
This man is accepting things but clearly is not happy about things. I won’t go into assumptions here; there are decades of reports about her disdain for the institution of marriage, family house, while he clearly stated many times he wanted just that — a house, family, wife.
There’s some kind of emotional disconnect here, however hard they try to explain to us they are so much more evolved in love than the rest of us. What really made him be so emotionally manic to resort to physical violence, we probably won’t ever find out.
Where you maybe saw a fierce protector of a woman, I saw a weak man, so emasculated with something, he needed to resort to yelling and slapping to feel — manly? Strong? Respected? Valued?
I like how New Yorker put it:
“So, you understand, he only slapped Rock — he slapped Chris Rock! — because he’s such a big man, such a rushing, white-water river of protection for the women in his life. He kept on like that, self-pitying and spiritualizing.”
While claiming “love will make you do crazy things”.
Physically assaulting a man on the Academy Awards stage, to later justify it by “love making you do crazy things”, getting applause and a standing ovation from the crowd, instead of getting escorted out or reprimanded, it’s puzzling. And dangerous.
Does this mean we can all go see a stand-up comedy show and jump on stage to slap a comedian if he says something we don’t like?
There is no one expressing worry today about Will’s physical violence, no Trevor Noah to give an intro about how violence is bad and how worried he is about Will, asking us all to counsel him.
All while Kanye West getting banned from the Grammys for ranting on Instagram. Never violent, never physically abusive to no one. Where is the same shock Kanye is receiving for months now, in Will’s case?
Back to Chris Rock.
We analyzed Will’s possible inner turmoil that caused this. Did anyone stop and think about the possible inner turmoil of Chris Rock? Or is he not allowed to be emotional, messy? He needs to contain the situation, deescalate?
Chris Rock is on the Autism Spectrum, diagnosed in 2020., with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD). NLD affects the ability to read nonverbal social cues. It’s a tendency to process everything verbally. Conceptualizing emotions by putting them into words instead of just feeling them.
Chris says it’s great for writing jokes.
But it’s bad for one on one relationships or friendships. Bad in social settings. Unable to see the bigger picture.
I can not express to you how hard is to get diagnosed late in life. You spend every single day revisiting your childhood traumas, realizing you had no one to support your then unknown diagnosis, constantly being the one that needs to tolerate the neuro-typical world, instead of the typical world tolerating and accomodating the neuro-diverse. It’s exhausting.
Chris has been vocal about trying to figure out and live with his diagnosis, donning 7 hours a week in therapy.
Yet the man on the autism spectrum that is bad at social cues, had the perfect, most gracious reaction to Will’s assault. He got disrespected at the biggest award show on the planet by being slapped on the face, yet defused the situation, brought calmness to rage, and felt someone else, at that moment, is dealing with more than he is.
And these two egomaniacs with obvious relationship problems decided their issues, sorrows, triggers and emotional turmoils are bigger and more important than anyone else’s that night. More important than the colleague who is dealing with a difficult diagnosis, or two extraordinary athletes who couldn’t even shine on their big night.
By the posting of this article, Will Smith issued an apology to the Academy and Chris Rock. He did that the next day, not right after his transgression. After slapping someone and winning, he decided to get jiggy with it and dance all night without a worry on his face, Oscar in hand. Congrats on your win Will, may you never forget this night.
Originally published at https://mirandavidak.com on March 29, 2022.