Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on the Oscar stage. / Photo via marca.com

The 94th Academy Awards, held on March 27, was truly a night to remember. Celebrities and influencers alike flooded the red carpet to engage in and conduct interviews. Outfits were specially selected and modeled spectacularly as drama in the form of a physical altercation captivated headlines, and the Oscars shined a little light on some previously underrated new films.

The sci-fi/adventure film “Dune,” starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, won six of the 10 awards that the film was nominated for, including Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. 

Best Costume Design went to Jenny Beavan from the reimagined Disney tale “Cruella.” The musical drama “CODA” won three awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Also among the winners were: 

– Jessica Chastain (Best Actress in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”).

– “Encanto” (Best Animated Feature).

– Jane Campion (Best Director for “The Power of the Dog”). 

– Ariana DeBose (Best Supporting Actress for “West Side Story”). 

– “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Best Makeup and Hairstyling). 

– “Belfast” (Best Original Screenplay).

– “Summer of Soul” (Best Documentary Feature).

– “Drive My Car” (Best International Feature).

– “No Time to Die” (Best Original Song).

The winning films weren’t all feature-length films. Short films had their own categories and winners including “The Queen of Basketball” (Best Short Documentary), “The Windshield Wiper” (Best Animated Short Film) and “The Long Goodbye” (Best Live Action Short Film).

Will Smith beat out Andrew Garfield, Benedict Cumberbatch, Denzel Washington and Javier Bardem for Best Actor following his scandalous physical altercation with Academy Awards host Chris Rock just moments before winning his first Oscar.

During his introduction, Rock compared Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, to G.I. Jane in an ill-received joke referring to her shaved head and green dress.

Jada has been suffering from the autoimmune disease, alopecia, which causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles. She has repeatedly expressed the emotional toll this has taken on her. In a 2018 episode from her show, “Red Table Talk,” she explained how she was in the shower one day and found that handfuls of her hair were just falling out.

“It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking with fear,” Jada explained.

After Rock’s joke, Smith took to the stage to slap Rock across the face once, on live television, before turning around and sitting back down.

After Smith returned to his seat, he had some choice words for Rock. The audio was clipped from the American live recording to prevent the audience from hearing Smith yell twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”

Some fans were confused as to why Smith had the reaction he did, as it had appeared like he was laughing at the joke just moments before. Some theorize that Jada had said something to Smith while others believe he just didn’t understand what Rock was joking about at the moment. No official story has been confirmed.

Rock was stunned for a moment before continuing on as nothing had happened. Later, Smith was named Best Actor for his performance in “King Richard.”

During his tearful acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy Awards saying, “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees.”

He went on to seemingly defend his actions: “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things,” Smith said.

He notably did not apologize to Chris Rock that night, and following the Awards, Rock decided not to press charges against the actor. 

The following day, Smith took to Instagram to apologize once more. In his post, he said, “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”

Smith went on to apologize to Rock saying, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

Smith removed the option to leave comments and, interestingly, to view how many total likes the post had received.

As of March 29, Chris Rock has not yet publicly commented on the situation; however, other Academy attendees have.

On March 29, the “Divergent” and “The Batman” star, Zoe Kravitz, posted a photo of her in a light pink dress while standing on the red carpet the night of the Awards. She captioned this photo: “Here’s a picture of my dress at the award show where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now.”

She went on to make a second post just minutes later featuring her in a white floor-length Oscars’ after-party dress with the caption, “and here is a picture of my dress at the party after the award show -where we are apparently screaming profanities and assaulting people on stage now.”

On the same day, American-Canadian actor and comedian, Jim Carrey, appeared on CBS Mornings.” During this appearance, he commented on the Rock-Smith drama saying he would have sued Smith for $200 million.

“That insult is going to last a very long time,” Carrey said. “You do not have the right to walk on stage and smack someone in the face because they said words… It didn’t escalate. It came out of nowhere because Will has something going on inside him that’s frustrating and I wish him the best. I really do.”

Despite this bit of goodwill Carrey sent Smith’s way, Carrey went on to say how sickened he was at the audience’s response to Smith being named Best Actor.

“I was sickened by the standing ovation [when Will won]. I felt like Hollywood is just spineless en masse. It really felt like, ‘Oh, this is a really clear indication that we’re not the cool club anymore.’”

Some speculate that this event may have been staged as a publicity stunt to get people interested in the Oscars again. 

It does seem a bit odd that Smith was allowed to freely walk up onto the stage without any security measures preventing him from doing so. As many viewers pointed out, had it been anyone other than a celebrity, they would never have gotten so close to Rock.

To make things even stranger, before the start of the Awards, Smith posted a TikTok showing the couple’s Oscars outfits with the sound, “Good morning, God has let me live another day and I’m about to make it everyone’s problem.”

The TikTok was captioned, “Me ‘n @jadapinkettsmith got all dressed up to choose chaos.”

Additionally, this event worked well for the social media accounts of both men. According to Social Blade, Rock and Smith gained over 650,000 and 1.6 million new Instagram followers overnight, respectively. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ticket sales for Rock’s upcoming stand-up show saw a huge jump following this event from $100 a ticket to now close to $250 a ticket.

While there is evidence that might suggest this was a staged bit, it is unlikely. It seemed like the removal of the live audio went on for longer than it needed to as if they were scrambling to adjust live. Also, Smith looked genuinely upset as he yelled and has since apologized numerous times.

Either way, this event will remain the hottest thing to happen at the Oscars since 2017 when the host, Faye Dunaway, announced the wrong winner for best picture.

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