First, the Hollywood Academy said nothing. Faced with Will Smith’s slap in the face of comedian Chris Rock, who took center stage at the gala and the subsequent debates, the organizers of the Oscars did not take any official initiative. The interpreter continued in the room, went up to collect the award for best actor and justified himself in a speech where he apologized, but also stated: “Love makes you do crazy things.” After a few hours, the organization published a brief statement saying that it does not “condone” the violence, but invited the winners to celebrate. However, as protests against Smith’s gesture grew and hardened, top Academy officials met urgently on Monday and announced a formal investigation into what happened. Yesterday, Tuesday, when more than a day and a half had passed since the ceremony, the president, David Rubin, sent a letter to all the academics to express the rage of the institution, the first explicit condemnation of the aggression perpetrated by Smith and the promise of “appropriate action” over the next few weeks. There is also a meeting of the body called for Wednesday.
“The 94th Academy Awards broadcast was intended as a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did an incredible job last year. We are upset and outraged that those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and damaging behavior of one of the nominees on stage. To be clear, we condemn Mr. Smith’s actions that occurred on Sunday night “, reads the start of the letter, which reproduces the specialized magazine Variety. At the same time, the document promises members that the council of governors – the Academy has about 10,000 members, but is headed by 64 powerful professionals – will decide “an appropriate action”, but warns them that they will have to wait: “Now that governs California law on nonprofit membership, and as laid out in our Code of Conduct, all of this must go through an official procedure that will take a few weeks.” The expulsion or suspension of Smith as a member of the Academy are the options that the American press will lower the most, while the withdrawal of the statuette is considered unlikely.
The comedian Chris Rock appeared at the gala last Sunday to present the Oscar for best documentary. But, before, he dedicated himself to laughing at the attendees. First, he addressed “Javier Bardem and his wife” [la actriz Penélope Cruz], joking about what it would mean in his house if only one of them got the prize. Then, the presenter referred to Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s interpreter and partner, to whom he told her that he would see her well in the sequel to Lieutenant O’Neil, 1997 film where Demi Moore played a soldier, alluding to her shaved hair. But the choice of Pinkett Smith is not aesthetic: she publicly announced long ago that she suffers from alopecia. After the joke, the actress gave obvious signs of her annoyance. Her husband, on the other hand, got up, went on stage and went to give Rock a slap. Returning to her seat, she snapped at the comedian twice: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
The gala continued, although no one was thinking about the movies anymore. Smith later won the award for Best Leading Actor, for Williams method, and took the stage to applause. In his speech, she apologized to the Academy and the other nominees. And he said, among other things: “Richard Williams [el polémico personaje real al que interpreta, padre de las tenistas Venus y Serena Williams, presentes en la gala] He was a staunch defender of his family. At this point in my life, I am overwhelmed by what God is asking me to do and be. […] I have been called to protect my people, to be a river for my people. To be in show business you have to put up with insults.” She received applause from many of those present, although several journalists in the room reported that there were also those who remained motionless.
Smith then went to the party organized by Vanity Fair, along with his family. But, yesterday, Monday, he released a statement to the networks where he also apologized to Chris Rock: “Violence, in any of its forms, is poisonous and destructive. My behavior last night was unacceptable and indefensible… I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of place and I was wrong.” Later, Jada Pinkett Smith herself broke her silence online, to say that she thinks it’s time to “heal” and that she’s “ready for it.” Nothing is known of Rock’s opinion, except that he decided not to file a complaint with the Los Angeles police.
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Very blunt, however, was the actor Jim Carrey, interviewed on a CBS station program. “I was disgusted by the ovation for Will Smith. Hollywood is missing its backbone and it seems like it’s a clear indication that we’re not the cool club anymore,” he assured. He claimed that Smith should have been escorted out of the theater and that he, instead of Rock, would have denounced the actor demanding $200 million: “This video is going to be there forever.” “If you want to shout from the audience and show your disapproval or say something on Twitter, that’s fine. But you have no right to go on stage and punch someone in the face for saying a few words.”