At first, we saw Will Smith laughing at Chis Rock’s joke about Pinkett Smith being ready for the next G.I. Jane movie because of her shaved head.
Was it funny? In the category of, ‘Was it a joke by a joke’s standard?’, I don’t think so. And even if it wasn’t a joke at Pinkett Smith’s expense, it wasn’t humorous.
Then something changed.
In a crowded room, on international television, in front of the world, his peers, and the person he’s married to, Will Smith… well, you know what happened. It was a bold, violent attack by Smith against Rock.
It was not an outburst as some media termed it: It was violence.
Why did it happen?
What was so triggering about Rock’s joke that it prompted such an unexpected and violent response from the last person we might expect?
I’m not implying ignorance here about Pinkett Smith’s alopecia. Clearly, there was much more going on in Smith’s head, and the timing of Rock’s joke was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Smith will soon feel the effects of his unbridled action.
And the media is already reporting on what led to Smith losing control.
On the other hand, this is heteronormativity at its worst!
Will Smith, the MAN, defending his wife’s honour!
For appearance’s sake? The wife — the woman — with a look on her face that was one of horror. The strong man defending his territory, reacting out of control, reptilian brain at 100% fight mode.
Doing what’s expected of a man.
Chris Rock’s response?
Freeze. A smart move — and certainly not one I think he chose consciously.
It. Just. Happened.
What does this say about men? About Chris Rock? And Smith, who later in the show accepted an award when he probably should have left the building for human decency, was given a standing ovation. What does that say about the Hollywood establishment?
It feels a bit too much like an ‘Oh Captain, My Captain” moment — albeit entirely self-serving and sheepish.
The short answer is that violence doesn’t solve problems.
Tragically, the violent assault on the Ukrainian people is a worst-case example of not just violence, but ideological, patriarchal, bullying aggression without restraint — and the unhinged actions of the leader(s) of a corrupt regime.
‘I’ve got you’ versus ‘Fuck you.’
There’s a profound difference between, “I’ve got you” (Lady Gaga to Liza Minnelli) and “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”
The former is humanity at its best.
And the latter? Disagreement, contention, heated debate, and even shouting expletives from the audience ‘should’ have been the worst of it.
Violence in any physical form is an extreme action from which you can’t return.
There’s no going back to the way things were — on multiple levels.
We need to accept and observe this event for what it was.
This was a slap in the face of the ridiculous and unskillful aspects of patriarchal ownership, the dis-ease of jealously, making jokes at another person’s expense, and violence as a form of retribution and control. Whatever consequences befall Smith, his actions are a compelling and humane reminder for each of us to show up and take personal responsibility for the common good.
Smith’s actions are a stark demonstration of how banal, mundane, and prevalent violence has become at all levels of society.
I invite you to commit to a daily practice of acceptance, connection, and genuine caring for others — without prejudice.
Humanity will not survive or thrive with ever-escalating levels of violence.
It takes hate to spread hate and love to spread love. We can only thrive collectively with acceptance, connection, and care — the core human emotions that cultivate love.
Which would you rather enjoy?