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Opinion: The Implications of The Slap Heard ‘Round the World

By Sophia Alexandrou

Moments before winning an Academy Award for his role in King Richard at last month’s Oscar’s ceremony, actor Will Smith walked up onto the stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face after Rock joked about Smith’s wife, Jada Smith’s alopecia. He has since expressed remorse for the incident, stating, “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.

In a recent statement, Jada said that her family was in a time of “deep healing.” In addition, Smith has also been banned from attending any events facilitated by the Academy, though there is nothing in their decision preventing Smith from being nominated in the future. Despite the nationwide controversy over this slap, industry experts claim the acting veteran is being “flooded with work offers.” Whether or not these claims are true, it is interesting to dissect the implications of this incident.

First, many think this has been completely blown out of proportion. Several members of the industry like Woody Allen or Roman Polanski have not been given the same disciplinary action as Smith for having a significantly more abusive history. Compared to the crimes these men, in addition to many others, have committed, a mere slap seems completely inoffensive.

On the other hand, many think that responding to a joke with violence on a stage being broadcasted to the entire country deserves the level of disciplinary action Smith received. After all, this was a time to celebrate the most accomplished individuals in the film industry, and it was completely overshadowed by an incident lasting no more than three minutes. Also, ignoring such a public and controversial incident like this would likely have garnered the Academy a great deal of criticism.

Regardless of one’s position on this subject, it is interesting to see in what direction this leads Smith’s career. With recent news of a “flood” of new job opportunities for Smith, it seems like his career may just make it out alive. It may actually be true when they say, “all publicity is good publicity.”

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