Will Smith has apologised, but his shocking slap at the Oscars continues to divide the world

It was the slap that was heard around the world.

Will Smith may have won an Oscar for his performance as Richard Williams in the tennis biopic, but his achievement has been completely overshadowed by his behaviour.

Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face at the 94th Academy Awards and shouted at him twice: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched a formal review into the assault and condemned the violence, while Smith has apologised twice.

Once during his acceptance speech less than an hour after he clocked Rock and a second, more formal apology, via a statement on Instagram.

Rock has declined to press charges.

Even so, the world is still coming to terms with what they watched.

Feud settled?

The court of public opinion is divided.

Some people, including celebrities, have sided with Smith.

They argued he was defending wife Jada Pinkett Smith from mockery after Rock made fun of her shaved head.

The comedian joked that he couldn’t wait to see her in GI Jane 2.

Pinkett Smith, who suffers hair loss from the autoimmune disease alopecia, was visibly irritated.

During his tearful acceptance speech, Smith spoke about playing Richard Williams, whom he described as a “fierce defender of his family”.

“Love makes you do crazy things,” he said, adding that he hopes the Academy invites him back.

Others, however, said Smith’s actions were inexcusable.

At the Oscars afterparty, Smith was filmed in much better spirits as he danced with his golden statuette at the Vanity Fair event.

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, who presented at the Oscars, told Page Six that Smith and Rock had settled their feud. 

“That’s not a problem. That’s over. I can confirm that,” he told Page Six. 

“It’s all love. They’re brothers.” 

But an insider later told the media outlet that the pair had not spoken or reconciled.

Another source told TMZ that Rock had no idea about Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.

Rock attended a different afterparty, hosted by Madonna’s talent manager Guy Oseary, and appeared “unfazed” by the Oscars incident. 

“You wouldn’t really know anything had happened,” an insider told Page Six. 

“He was talking about it, just saying it was crazy, but it didn’t seem to be bothering him at all.” 

The source said that Rock’s friends “kept an eye on the door” and “made sure they knew where he was at all times” to avoid any awkward run-ins with the Smiths.

In his statement, Smith apologised to Rock and said he was “out of line” and “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,” he wrote.


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A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith)

Hollywood reacts

A who’s who of Hollywood’s biggest names flooded Twitter with their thoughts, including Smith’s son Jaden who simply tweeted: “And That’s How We Do It.”

“Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late-night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?” joked former late-night host Conan O’Brien.

Instead of focusing on the slap, Jimmy Kimmel congratulated Oscar hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. 

“[They] were very funny – I hope that isn’t overshadowed by the unpleasantness,” he tweeted. 

Actor Erich Bergen encouraged people to remember Lady Gaga’s act of kindness towards a struggling Liza Minelli over the slap.

Some stars, however, publicly took sides. 

Actor Rob Reiner tweeted there was no excuse for what Smith did. 

“He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bulls–t.” 

Comedian Kathy Griffin said she is now worried about “who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theatres”, while Star Wars actor Mark Hamill described the slap as the “ugliest Oscar moment ever”. 

But some criticised both parties, taking aim at Rock’s joke.

One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush pointed out that this was the second time Rock has made Pinkett Smith the butt of his joke at the Oscars.

The first time was at the 2016 ceremony in which Rock mocked Pinkett Smith for boycotting the Academy Awards over her husband’s nomination snub. 

“Jada says she’s not coming. Protesting. I’m like, ‘Ain’t she on a TV show?’ Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!’”

Bush said punching down on someone’s autoimmune disease is wrong.

“Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather,” she tweeted. 

“She’s been open about it since [2018] and the Smiths/Rocks have a long-overlapping circle. Hitting him was not okay. AND his ‘joke’ was cruel and personal. All of it, awful.” 

Comedian Tiffany Haddish defended Smith’s slap, describing his actions as “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen”. 

Haddish starred with Pinkett Smith in the 2017 comedy Girls Trip. 

“When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me,” Haddish told People at the Governor’s Ball, following the ceremony. 

As a woman “who has been unprotected”, Haddish said watching a husband stand up for his wife “meant the world to [her]”.

“Maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives,” Haddish said.

Chris Rock tickets surge

Ticket sales for Chris Rock’s tour have reportedly surged, suggesting public support for the comedian.

Or, perhaps, people just want to see if Rock will joke about the slap.

He does have new material, after all.

The comedian is set to perform in Boston this week before officially kicking off his Ego Death World Tour on April 2, his first tour in five years. 

Secondary ticketing marketplace TickPick claimed on Twitter that it “sold more tickets to see Chris Rock overnight than we did in the past month combined”. 

It also claimed the cheapest ticket prices jumped from $US46 ($61.50) on March 18 to $US411 ($549.45).

Rock is headed to Australia this August as part of the tour, with shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Tickets are still available, but are selling out fast in Melbourne. 

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