The Slap Heard ‘Round The World

Alexander Blaide, Rporter

     The Academy Awards are seen as the most prestigious of Hollywood’s awards. After being voted the best in whatever your nomination was in, an Oscar is a great honor for any actor, director, or designer. Voted on by a secretive board of directors, earning an Oscar is sure to be the highlight of any Hollywood career. Unfortunately, that achievement can be overshadowed in an instant.

     During the 94th Academy Awards, comedian and co-host Chris Rock told a joke involving Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia and her hair loss as a result of the condition, referencing “G.I. Jane,” basically implying that Jada looks like her. Mid-sentence, Jada’s husband and Best Actor nominee, Will Smith stormed the stage and slapped Rock across the face. Rock was left dumbfounded and attempted to recover the show as Smith shouted from his seat how Rock needed to “keep [his] wife’s name out of [Rock’s] mouth.” The moment immediately became controversial because not only did Smith just smack the host of an awards ceremony, almost 20 minutes later, he was awarded Best Actor, meaning he was still allowed to stay at the event and got to give a speech. The next day, Rock announced that he wouldn’t file a police report and Smith issued a formal apology to both Rock and the Academy on his Instagram. The Academy condemned Smith’s action and suggested a private investigation will be conducted. 

     Everyone began making rumors like crazy. People were unsure what would happen with Smith and if he’d be arrested, suspended from the Academy, or possibly stripped of his award. An event like this has never happened before, so no one knew what to do or handle it. On April 1, in a move no one was expecting, Smith announced his formal resignation from the Academy. The Academy is still conducting an internal investigation of the night’s events and what disciplinary actions should be taken.

     What does Smith’s resignation mean, though, and why is it such a big move for him to willingly resign? Well, the Academy is not that secret of an organization like most people believe. In fact, most of the information on how they operate is right there on their website. Joining the Academy is open to just about anyone, however it’s not the most easy thing in the world to join. It’s a sponsorship based organization and two Academy members of that same branch must sponsor a person. So, for an actor to possibly join, two other actors (who are Academy members) have to sponsor that actor, unless that actor is up for an Oscar and they are admitted immediately. That’s how one joins the Academy. Joining the Academy comes with a bunch of perks including being able to vote on the nominees and private screenings of nominated films. With Smith resigning, he no longer has the ability to do those things, however it does not mean that he has to surrender his award. Given his status in Hollywood, he is still able to attend the awards ceremony, but he is unable to help decide who wins what. 

     The details of the Chris Rock/Will Smith incident seem easy to track, but like the rest of Hollywood, there’s a bit more going on behind the scenes and we’ll just have to wait and see.

    UPDATE: On April 8th, a meeting was held for the Oscar Governors who declared that for his actions during the 94th Academy Awards, Will Smith was barred from the awards ceremony for 10 years.