The Academy has decided on Will Smith’s fate for the slap heard around the world on the live television broadcast of the Oscars less than two weeks ago on March 27. They announced their decision today in an open letter addressed to the Academy family.
Following a meeting on Friday, to discuss Smith’s Oscar misstep, the Board of Governors decided to ban him from attending the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, and all related events for the next decade. The Academy wrote that, “for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually.”
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage,” they said.
The Academy accepted Smith’s resignation for slapping comedian Chris Rock across the face and other antisocial behaviour at the event.
While he was presenting an award at the televised live show, Rock joked about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith looking like G.I. Jane because of her closely cropped hair. G.I. Jane is the name of a character played by actress Demi Moore in the 1997 action film of the same name.
After the slap, Smith walked back to his seat in the front row and hurled profanities at Rock, telling him to “Take my wife’s name out your f*cking mouth,” twice.
The moment shocked Dolby Theatre audience members and viewers watching the live broadcast from home in disbelief. Many people thought it was a skit that would end in laughter at any minute but it never did.
Smith apologized to Rock eventually but the Academy went ahead with discussions to determine his punishment, which started the day of the meeting.
Everyone seemed to be in a suspended state of disbelief as the program continued. Smith took the stage to make his acceptance speech after winning an Oscar for best performance by an actor in a leading role in the film King Richard, where he portrays coach and father to tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams.
Rock didn’t retaliate and kept his composure. Oscar organizers agreed that they “did not adequately address the situation in the room” at the time when the incident happened. “For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”
Pictures of the slap circulated around the world on the news and on social media until the ratings for an otherwise lower than usual 94th Oscars celebration took an upturn.
Smith eventually apologized to Rock for the assault and said he would resign from the Academy. In Friday’s letter the Academy said that they accepted his resignation and made their own apology to Rock for having gone through such a violation. They expressed “deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances.”
In Friday’s response by Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said that Smith’s behaviour “is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
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