The man who slapped.

While the night flowed and ebbed, glasses clinked and champagne flowed, overly expensive suits reclined on seats while expressively overdone dresses perched on theirs, no one knew what was coming, at least not Chris Rock.

Everyone with the internet and at least a casual interest in pop culture knows what happened that night. Will Smith, an ultra-popular and successful actor walked up to the stage and the shock of millions of watchers around the world handed over the biggest slap of modern live television history to Chris Rock, a well to do comedian who was co-hosting the Oscar Awards Show. However, this is basic knowledge and now that we’ve gotten it out of the way let’s dive a bit deeper, not so that we can form an opinion on who was right, but so that we can understand enough of yet another celebrity debacle.

Will Smith is a 53-year-old actor who has been in Hollywood since he was a fresh-faced teen coming out of the hood. He starred in the popular sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air where he played a character named Will Smith, the main character. After many successful seasons, he decided to move on from the project. Will delved into music too, a competent rapper and great hitmaker, he alongside his DJ pal who also starred in the sitcom made many hits in America. Will Smith was bigger than life, seen as a comic, goofy but also emotional and good at heart young boy, his brand and image were solidified in pop culture. In the coming years, Will would try to break out of that mould, but in truth, all he did was break out of comedy to work captivating dramas, and just like everything else Will Smith had touched, it turned to gold. He got married to Jada Pinkett, a woman who he was quite public with his love and admiration for, they made two beautiful kids who also delved into entertainment (Will has 2 movies with his son, while his daughter went into music). Overall, it seemed to everyone that Will Smith lived a utopian life, right until he and his wife showed that it wasn’t all bliss.

The complications in their marriage, or what other people term as simply a different style of marriage, cast a bad light on the image of Will Smith. The image of a perfect guy, the good guy, some people felt he deserved better, some felt it shouldn’t have been made their business, whichever way, the life of Will Smith and his marriage to Jada Pinkett became a popular topic, especially after she disclosed that she had a relationship with a younger popular musician in the presence of the Smith family. Even more so when she told the world she still felt love for a long-dead rapper and wrote letters to him frequently, the family became a public joke. This brings us to the night of THE SLAP, the now infamous slap. At the Oscars, every year comedians are employed to host the award show and provide comedic relief during the show. It’s a tradition, even the actors who come on stage try their hands at making the audience laugh a little. So there was Chris Rock, serenading the audience with jokes, and personal jokes about the celebrities in the crowd, they were all laughing, even when one of the jokes was on Jada Pinkett Smith. Jada had a rather distinct look, she was almost clean-shaven. Right after the joke on her, the camera panned to Will Smith laughing, and we can see Jada’s demeanour change. 5 seconds later, her husband was on the Oscar stage, giving out a slap that shocked the world.

“Keep my wife’s name out of your ######## mouth!”

Will bellowed when he got back to his seat. As the world watched a totally shocking scene, and Chris tried and lost the battle to continue like nothing happened, he said to will “It was a G.I Jane joke”. What did Chris say that got the Smiths so mad? Chris had said to Jada that he was expecting G.I Jane 2. In the original movie, the protagonist was a woman with a shaved head. Apparently, Jada has Alopecia, a condition that causes a person to lose hair, and she has been just as vocal and public about it. This is what angered Will Smith. In his acceptance speech after winning the award

for best actor in a lead role just minutes later, it can be understood that he was tired of being made fun of. He also didn’t want someone feeling like they could disrespect his beloved wife in front of him and get away with it, so he made sure to leave a sharp lesson. Some people have questioned the reason, “alopecia is simply baldness, it’s not life-threatening and people laugh about it all the time”. Some have backed Will based on a number of reasons; protecting his wife, protecting a black woman. There are disagreements in opinions, but as I said at the beginning, this isn’t so that we can form an opinion.

What remains clear however is that somebody slapped somebody, on live TV, and we have already started seeing the repercussions with reports of filmmakers considering and even deciding to stop projects with the man who slapped. Now, it is looking like Will Smith has gone from the funny Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to the man who slapped for a funny love.

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