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FutureStarrThe Slap One Year Later - A Complete Timeline of the Oscars Drama
One year ago, Will Smith took to the stage at the 94th Academy Awards and immediately slapped comedian Chris Rock over a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. It has since become one of the most talked-about and iconic moments in showbiz.
Chris Rock's stand-up special Selective Outrage will premiere on Netflix March 4, and the comedian is expected to address the incident for the first time publicly. Here is what happened and how it all came together.
One year ago, a stunning onstage altercation between comedian Chris Rock and actor Will Smith shocked the world. What started as an ordinary award presentation turned into an Oscars night spectacle that captured millions of people's attention both live and online. It remains one of history's most famous slaps, beloved by celebrities, journalists, and their fans alike.
Rock's joke about Jada Pinkett Smith shaving her head since 2021 due to alopecia areata (hair loss) caused the slap.
In the end, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, effectively banning him from all events hosted by that organization for 10 years. It marked the first time in Oscars history that a presenter had been prohibited from taking the stage.
The incident sparked numerous articles, most of which focused on both the slap itself and its aftermath, as well as how Smith and Rock reacted. Ultimately, however, the Academy had a blind spot in its handling of what turned out to be an intensely controversial event.
Los Angeles Times reporters conduct interviews with key participants in the event, such as Smith and his wife, to uncover what really transpired and why it remains in our memories one year later.
The Slap One Year Later is essential reading for anyone interested in what happened and its significance. This story encompasses much more than just a physical act of violence; it provides an insightful look into how America's entertainment industry works and how some of America's biggest awards can be decided by one man onstage in Hollywood.
Last year's Oscars marked an iconic moment in American culture, as millions watched Will Smith charge the stage to confront Chris Rock after the comedian told one too many jokes about Jada Pinkett Smith. In the ensuing melee, Smith struck Rock with both his fist and knee; fortunately for Pinkett Smith she ran to safety unharmed.
The slap went viral immediately, prompting celebrity support for Rock and condemnation of Smith on social media platforms alike. Comedy, news and op-ed pieces followed suit - it was an extraordinary and unsettling moment that left millions watching with the question: what happened here?
It has been a difficult journey for the two men involved. After his incident, Smith resigned his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while Janet Yang--head of the film academy--apologized on their behalf.
But it remained unclear why Smith chose to pursue Rock. The incident caused confusion, with some believing it was an accident while others saying it was deliberate. Additionally, the film academy experienced unprecedented backlash from critics and fellow actors who felt his actions weren't appropriate.
In the weeks that followed, Rock chose not to discuss his slap with anyone. On his "Ego Death Tour," he often referenced it in passing, but never fully addressed it.
On Friday night, comedian Chris Rock addressed the slap in one of his first standup performances since the incident. Streamed live from Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on Netflix, Rock's performance lasted more than an hour and addressed everything surrounding it.
At the conclusion of his show, Rock discussed The Slap in great detail for the first time, declaring it to be "the single most painful experience" of his life. He then pondered why Smith took such an extreme response; suggesting Smith may have been a coward who couldn't handle his own marital troubles alone.
One year has passed since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the Academy Awards, becoming a lightning rod for social and political commentary about Black masculinity. It sparked thousands of tweets, overreaching op-eds, celebrity support or condemnation and an Oscars drama which remains unresolved today.
Onstage during Rock's presentation for Best Documentary Feature, Smith responded by slapping him across the face after making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. This incident became known as "Slapgate."
Rock has often made references to the slap in his stand-up routines, though he never fully addressed it as some critics had hoped. On Friday night at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater though, Rock finally addressed it for the first time on a stage he has toured with his Ego Death Tour.
In his opening act, Rock took a few moments to reflect on The Slap and how it still affects him. He joked that it was an ideal opportunity to test out material for his new comedy special "Selective Outrage," which will air on March 4.
After the show, he returned to the stage to perform a song called "The Slap" that he'd written about the incident. Additionally, he performed a sketch with Jarrod Carmichael and Chris Redd that poked fun at it.
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At the 2022 Academy Awards, Will Smith delivered a controversial punchline about Chris Rock onstage after making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. Though Rock later left the stage and resigned from the Academy, this moment still resonated throughout Hollywood and beyond.
One of the most remarkable moments in Oscar history, Jimmie Lee's slap became an instant classic, prompting thousands of tweets and op-eds to analyze Black masculinity and produce celebrity reactions both of support and condemnation.
Soon after the incident, President Janet Yang of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a public apology. Unfortunately, for many in and outside of entertainment industries - including Smith - it was too little too late.
Shortly after Smith's resignation, the Academy Board of Governors banned him from attending future Academy Awards ceremonies for ten years. He could keep the statue he won but no longer had any voting rights in regard to voting on Oscars.
In the months that followed, Smith apologized to Rock and others involved in the incident. In October, he even appeared on Red Table Talk to address his slap and emphasize how important healing was to him and his family.
But The Slap has remained prominent, dominating social media and public broadcasts throughout the year. It's the kind of scandal that doesn't go away after a few days or weeks - similar to #OscarsSoWhite or the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
One Year Later examines how Smith and Rock's actions on that night have affected them, their industry, as well as society at large. Through interviews with Smith, Rock, experts in Black masculinity and race relations, and members of their families, The Slap One Year Later follows these men and their families as they attempt to make sense of what transpired that night and its lasting repercussions today.
Last week, The Slap One Year Later premiered on Netflix and marked the first time comedian Chris Rock publicly addressed the incident in its entirety. While he has joked about it in past comedy specials, this was his first opportunity to speak at length about it. Furthermore, during his special in Baltimore - where the incident occurred - Rock did not use a seven-second delay to avoid offensive material.