Did you know that Samuel L Jackson finally got an Oscar last night? An openly queer woman of color also won the Academy’s highest honor. Did you hear about that? Did you know that the movie that won best picture, was about a child of deaf adults (CODA)? Had you heard that Will Packer directed last night’s show, and is only the second black person to ever do it? Did you hear that Will Smith, after 30 years of chasing being the biggest movie star in the world, finally got an Oscar? Probably not, because all of those accomplishments were overshadowed by another moment in Oscar history, one Chris Rock called “the greatest night in the history of television.”
UGH!!! I know by now you have all read all the hot takes. I have heard everything from “That’s what Chris Rock gets,” to “Will Smith was way out of line” to “this is all Jada’s fault”. And my least favorite take of all “if you’re not a husband, you wouldn’t understand.”
Pause. Let me stop at that last one. To think that a wife, a woman, a spouse of any gender doesn’t understand protecting their spouse’s honor is ignorant on so many levels. I don’t know a wife worth her salt that doesn’t spend countless moments trying to protect her husband’s honor, his integrity, his reputation, his ego, and his heart, EVERY DAGGUM DAY! Ask anybody who knows me, that if you come after Ernie Radford, I’m going to come with everything I got within me, and everything I got in my purse. I don’t care if it’s my mama, his mama, your mama. Everybody can get it.
But my mild-mannered, sensible, husband has taught me that sometimes in my defense of him, I escalate a situation, when, had a I just taken a breath and let things settle, the problem would have worked itself out. Chris Rock told a joke that nobody under 30 even understood. (GI Jane came out in 1997, and also Jada would kill at the role!) Had Mr. Smith looked around the room, he might have seen that. But he didn’t look around the room. He looked at his wife. She was not laughing and that sent him into a tailspin.
Let me be transparent. I didn’t watch the Oscars. I haven’t seen any of the Oscar nominated films, except Encanto, and I haven’t seen anything with either Will Smith or Chris Rock in years. My family will tell you that nothing puts me to sleep faster than a movie. I did, however, read Will’s book. In it, he talks a lot about feeling like a coward, and his ego, and I think we saw both on display last night. In his mind, his greatest failure was not being able to protect his mother from his father. Last night, he saw a familiar hurt in his wife’s eyes, and decided to do something about it…Except his Ego stepped in and said do it now, in front of these people, and in front of the cameras. “Let them all see that you and your family are not to be messed with.”
Except that in defending his wife from a not-so funny joke, he left her open to attack for jokes that were actually hilarious, and way more disrespectful. I’ve seen think-pieces blaming her for all of the shenanigans last night. We had finally gotten over her “entanglement” and in his effort to defend her honor, he brought it all to light again. Listen, if you saw the aftermath of the smack, you practically saw the wheels in Chris Rock’s head working through a joke that involved August Alcina and he stopped himself, probably for the good of his health, and for the protection of his paycheck.
Speaking of protection, the Oscars ain’t got nobody to protect the performers on stage? What kind of nonsense is that? That’s why Beyonce didn’t perform live in the theater! Y’all got her messed up. Ain’t no way Will would have made it from his seat if Julius was around.
Anyway, it was arguably the biggest night of Will Smith’s career, and it was overshadowed by what might be recorded as a low-point in his public life. The whole thing makes me sad, and makes me contemplate my own actions more carefully. I wish I could take some of my actions back, but not all. Some of those folks deserved whatever I gave them.
But really, the Oscar should go to all these folks acting like they were watching the Oscars, before the incident. Or the people acting like they know what they would do in that situation. Y’all are putting on the performance of a lifetime! Congratulations!