I haven’t seen any other segment of the Oscars other than the slapping incident and Will Smith’s narcissistic justification of it later. Not even one second. I don’t care about the Oscars. I used to care a little bit. When I was 8 I thought the oscars were a sign of quality. Maybe because one of my favorite movies – Dances with wolves – got a bunch of them. For several years now I consider it to be the opposite. If a movie wins an oscar I am going to skip it. I mean that. That’s not me trying to be ‘alternative’. That comes from the repeated experience that these Oscar winning movies disappoint.
So… Some thoughts on the slap. Nothing you can’t read or hear elsewhere. Maybe it’s more like an attempt at a summary of interpretations I agree with.
1. It wasn’t a funny joke. I don’t have anything against Chris Rock and I respect him for what he does, but what a superficial, easy joke. But ok, it takes chutzpah and smarts to do what he does. At the very least it takes courage and he obviously has talent. It’s just not something I care about. ‘I wish I was like you, easily amused’, sings Kurt Cobain in my head as I see people laugh at jokes like this.
2. It appears Rock didn’t know about her disease. So in that case the joke isn’t even an insult. Some are even saying you could take it as a compliment. But who would do that in our eternally offended culture? If you haven’t been offended in the last two hours doesn’t that mean you are just too dumb to interpret the millions of offensive insults being hurled at you 24/7? When did being offended become a badge of honor?
3. If Will Smith thinks everyone automatically knows about her medical condition he must be really full of himself. Even after this whole incident I still can’t remember his wife’s name. Jada? I know it’s not Jane. Sorry. Maybe that makes me as big of an asshole as Will Smith. We are very generous with labelling people as toxic, dumb, politically incorrect, so go ahead, if it makes ya feel better. All commentators seem to think they never did anything wrong.
4. He who is without sin should throw the first stone. What ever happened to that thought? Why would I have to be the judge of Will Smith? I have done similar shit in the past. I just never got to do it on television. Not proud of it either. But where would I get the authority to publicly condemn Will Smith? Yet all these commentators and Twitter crusaders think they have the moral authority to be his judge and/or the judge of Chris Rock. Do these people never take a look at themselves? If they think they are better than Will Smith… well, oops, they aren’t. Neither am I.
5. Essentially all those commentators – me included – are using this as a very welcome distraction from their own shitty behavior and their own demons. And as a way to draw attention to themselves via virtue signalling. Anyone doing ‘deep work’ doesn’t have time to go to Twitter and comment on this. The writers, politicians, scientists and all other professionals in other fields I respect the most have one thing in common: they haven’t tweeted about this incident. Maybe the silent people in our world are better than the loud folks on Twitter and other public spaces. I count myself among the loud folks, so it’s as much a criticism aimed at myself as at anyone else who felt the need to comment on this.
6. Some people make it their full time job to evaluate the morality of others via online platforms. I wonder how these people find the time to be useful human beings in their offline life. Online they are just obnoxious and full of themselves and always holier than thou. These enviable infallible gods of Twitter Olympus. The thought that am maybe one of those wannabe moral standard bearers scares the shit out of me.
7. I find the respect Chris Rock gets for how he handled the incident well-deserved. I will never go to one of his shows, just not my cup of tea, but he seems to be a much more composed, happy, down to earth and professional guy than Will Smith… As a teacher I have to deal with a lot of Will Smiths and I don’t always handle it as smoothly as Chris Rock. No, nobody has ever slapped me, but some students have tried to verbally hurt me for sure.
8. Will Smith’s reaction has made that lame joke into an iconic moment. I for sure wouldn’t be talking about it now if he had done nothing at all about it. He could have dealt with this in a much more self-preserving way. I also don’t know how to handle situations like this, so I do feel some sympathy for Will Smith as well. He must be in a very dark place if he has to react like that.
9. I doubt very much Will Smith was angry because of that joke. He took the joke as an excuse to vent his pent up anger and as a way to prop up a certain public image as a ‘defender’ and a ‘man’. That anger came from somewhere else. Maybe because of his marriage troubles. Or maybe because he is finding out no degree of laurels and success is making the hurt inside go away. Maybe he was just trying to save himself from getting into a vicious argument with his wife later. Maybe on some level Chris Rock’s joke was less about the hair and more about how combative she is. She looks like someone completely full of herself. But then again… who isn’t these days?
10. The reaction of the Academy and the audience was pure cowardice. First they claimed they had considered kicking him out. Then the story changed to: we asked him to leave, but he refused. The truth is that the organizers were just waiting to see which way public opinion would swing. If public opinion sided with Chris they would punish Will and if the reverse happened they would have condemned Chris for making that joke. These are spineless, self-serving vultures who are whores to the whims of the general public, because ultimately this whole circus has nothing to do with values or morality, but it has everything to do with money, status and being part of an exclusive club. Also the big irony that people look to actors for moral guidance…. HA!! What kind of spiritual vacuum are we trapped in?
11. You could see this as just a silly, childish moment where a celebrity can’t handle the limelight anymore and snaps, but I agree with what Russell Brand had to say about it. This is a sign that our culture – showcased and ritualized at events such as the oscars – is falling apart. In a sense this is like church goers getting up and punching their priest in the face during mass. Our needs are not being met in the current cultural paradigm and nothing new has been born yet. So now we struggle to maintain what once gave us a grip on our reality, a story to hold on to, but it doesn’t anymore. There is too much suffering in the world to be ok with the fake glamour of the Oscar. Those celebrities at the Oscars are like the orchestra playing on the sinking Titanic, but in contrast to that orchestra they are in denial as to how seriously damaged our ship, our society is.
Most important takeaway: people will eagerly gobble up anything that distracts them from dealing with their own flaws. Next week it will be something else.
I have just written a long post about this incident, so obviously I still have a lot of prioritizing to do myself.