Will Smith makes Oscars history after slapping Chris Rock on stage


AP Photo Chris Pizzello

Will Smith wins Best Actor in the 94th Academy Awards after slapping Chris Rock on stage.

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The 94th Academy Awards were held on March 27 to honor the standout performances and contributions to film and cinema over the past year. However, the highlight of the night that has taken social media and the public by storm was not simply an award being received but rather a slap across the face instead.  


While presenting an award on stage, actor Chris Rock made a comment directed towards Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, about her new hairstyle. Jada Smith has publicly expressed her struggles with alopecia, a medical condition that has resulted in the loss of her hair. After Rock made the unwarranted joke and received a mixture of laughs and groans from the audience, Will Smith walked on stage unprompted and physically assaulted Chris Rock by smacking him across the face and returning to his seat, stunning the crowd and audiences across the globe.  


Chris Rock remained stunned on stage and while the American broadcast of the event had muted the audio, broadcasts from Australia and Japan reveal Smith swearing at Rock after sitting back then, telling the comedian, “Keep my wife’s name out your…mouth.” Later in the night, Smith won the award for best actor, and during his acceptance speech, he emotionally apologized to the Academy while also expressing his gratitude for receiving the award.   


The incident sparked massive debate across social media with the slap itself instantly being used for a wide variety of jokes and memes. Some believed the entire scenario to be staged in an attempt by the Oscars to boost the ratings of the award show which had progressively been dwindling in viewership as fewer people continue to watch television. However, the raw emotions on display from both actors as well as the footage that came from international broadcasts suggest otherwise. Another conversation revolved around whether or not Smith’s actions were justified. Some are in favor of Smith for defending his wife while others have criticized the actor for resorting to violence and disrespecting the show.  


Will Smith later released an apology for his behavior through his Instagram stating that his actions “were not indicative of the man I want to be.” Chris Rock also denied the opportunity to press charges against Smith for assaulting him. Regardless of where the two actors stand with each other now, the incident around the two made for one of the most memorable Oscars in recent years.