Team Will Or Team Chris: Where Do You Stand?

Social media and real-life conversations have been on fire debating “who was to blame” for what occurred at the 94th Academy Awards. No matter where I was on Monday, the doctor’s office, or my first

Team Will Or Team Chris: Where Do You Stand?

Social media and real-life conversations have been on fire debating “who was to blame” for what occurred at the 94th Academy Awards. No matter where I was on Monday, the doctor’s office, or my first Monday morning call, Will Smith striking Chris Rock on stage was all anyone could talk about.

However, I invite us all to take a step back before initially taking sides and teams. What instead is needed is for us to bring light to the lack of transparency and oversight that was on display last Sunday night. How could a major worldwide televised venue like the Academy Awards not vet the script of Chris Rock prior to airing? If the committee did vet his script, the question then is how could they allow him to still try to make a comedic joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical condition called alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere? Is making fun of someone’s medical condition a “free game” in the comedy roasting world? Is it too much work for a committee to review scripts before they’re heard before the world? Is it too hard for an actor to be transparent with another actor, and let them know their “joke” prior to saying it, especially when it is directed at their family member? 

Academy Opens 'Formal Review' Of Will Smith & Chris Rock Incident –  Hollywood Life

Actors and actresses are taught to take everything that comes their way- that even amidst the worst criticism and jokes about them, they have to display the ability to transcend and just ‘shrug it off like a hitter who was intentionally beaned by the pitcher. 

What happened on Sunday night at the Academy Awards demonstrated that actors and actresses are in fact human- that they too can be vulnerable and break down just like the rest of us. Even within the world of sports, world-class athletes such as tennis star Naomi Osaka and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles have been portrayed by some in the media as “weak” for succumbing to their emotions and mental state – for not rising above. This type of expectation for the world’s most famous people won’t ever end, but we as a society need to take a step back to assess why we’re so sometimes quick to cast negative shadows on stars, and not ourselves. 

The points surely have been heard. Many on Team Chris said he should’ve filed charges, or that he was ‘not in the wrong’ for his saying to Jada Pinkett Smith, “Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2. ”In the 1997 G.I. Jane film, Demi Moore starred as a woman named Jordan O’Neil who enters a newly-created, physically rigorous Navy SEAL program. Moore shaved her head for the part. Some Team Chris supporters even try to go as far to say that G.I. Jane was an admirable character and that Jada and Will shouldn’t have taken it as an insult. I’m honestly lost for words at how some can try to defend Rock’s “joke.” Team Chris supporters also claim Will Smith thought the joke was actually funny until Jada showed disgust on her face. But, this claim can’t really be proven. Sometimes people deal with their anger by trying to initially laugh it off. I can tell you more than one time when I was so angry that my first reaction was not to yell or move, but rather to oddly laugh. 

Will Smith Apologizes To Chris Rock and the Academy | GQ

If you’re wondering if I think Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock was justifiable in the heat of the moment, my answer would be no. If you ask me, could Will have handled the situation better, my answer would be yes. In a world plagued by unnecessary aggression and violence, we as a society have more than ever become further sensitized against the use of violence to handle a situation. What’s happening in the world does make an impact. Will could have asked Chris for the microphone, and given a powerful off-the-cuff speech on how you have to draw a line in what type of jokes and targeted people can be used for comedy. I don’t know personally if I would have handled the situation any differently than Will Smith did. I too would have been boiled with anger and the need to put an ill-humored and offensive “joke” in its place. The true stars that rose from the chaos at the Academy Awards in my mind were Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper. Denzel told Will after the incident, At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.” Denzel was there to support Will, as was Bradley Cooper who was seen embracing Will and giving him love when he needed it the most. And, at the end of the day, we should not be people broken down by political parties, religions, or “teams”. We should be humans united by love.