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2022 Oscars: The Good, The Bad, and The Winners - We Won't Talk About Bruno But We Will Talk about Slapgate

2022 Oscars: The Good, The Bad, and The Winners – We Won’t Talk About Bruno But We Will Talk about Slapgate

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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) – The 94th Annual Academy Awards have come and gone, broadcast Sunday (March 28). It was one of the more exciting telecasts in the awards show’s history. The Oscars theme was “Movie Lovers Unite” as history was made, Hollywood glamour was back, and Will Smith decided to sucker-punch Chris Rock on national television. (See, this is why his mom sent him to live with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air). Even a movie script by the Russo Brothers couldn’t have written the night any better.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) honored the best in film and music in cinema released between March 1 and December 31, 2021, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The ceremony was hosted by comedians Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer – the first to have multiple hosts since the 2011 broadcast. CODA won every award it was nominated for, and Dune went home with the most trophies.

The most shocking moment of the night involved two very well-known celebrities but not in a positive way. After numerous jokes all evening long, Chris Rock hit a nerve after saying he couldn’t wait to see Jada Pinkett Smith in “G.I. Jane 2”. For those unfamiliar, G.I. Jane is a movie starring Demi Moore who enters the military and shaves her head. Pinkett Smith shaved her head in 2021 after revealing her diagnosis of alopecia, which causes hair loss. Will Smith laughed at first as the camera panned over him, but Pinkett Smith did not look amused. Suddenly, Smith storms the stage and slaps Rock right across the face, and “Slapgate” was born. The audience, clearly confused about if this was a “bit” or not, found out real fast when Smith yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your f**cking mouth!” according to the uncensored footage found all over the internet. ABC had to bleep it out for the viewers at home. Rock, clearly stunned, said, “That was … uh … the greatest night in the history of television.” During the commercial break, Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry could be seen pulling Smith aside for a word. Washington offered this advice:

“At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you” – Denzel Washington.

Besides the outburst of violence, the show was par for the course. After last year’s COVID-19 affected telecast at Union Station, the return of the host(s) was welcomed. Schumer mentioned that she loved all of the nominated movies; however, she didn’t see any of them, “I have a toddler, so I just watched Encanto 190 times,” she said. Hall, whose skit centered upon the fact that she’s single and looking, brought Brandon Cooper, Timothée Chalamet, Tyler Perry, Jacob Elordi, and Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu on stage for a “surprise COVID test.” At one point, she even singled out Smith and Pinkett Smith when she wanted to call Will up on stage, quipping to Pinkett Smith, “Will Smith … you’re married, but you know what, you’re on the list, and it looks like Jada approved you so get on up here. Get on up here!” That hilarious bit calling attention to Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk show, where she revealed she had an affair with singer August Alsina while married. Sykes took a swipe at Kim Kardashian, saying, “We’ve got something for you, Dame Judi Dench, because you didn’t win tonight. We’ve got an inspirational quote from Kim Kardashian: ‘Work harder.” In perhaps one of the dryest and funniest moments of the evening, Schumer came out after “Slapgate” and deadpanned, “I’ve been getting out of that Spider-Man costume. Did I miss anything? There’s like, a different vibe in here”, before turning to Tiffany Haddish and saying, “Oh, well. Probably not.”

But, back to what the Oscars are supposed to be about – the movies. CODA, a dramedy about the hearing daughter of a deaf family as she leaves the nest, became the first best picture to be released by a streaming company (Apple Original Films) rather than a traditional movie studio; it was also the first movie at Sundance to win an Oscar. Netflix, whom many thought would be the first streaming service with the best picture win with 2019’s Martin Scorsese directed, The Irishman, watched Apple take it home. Netflix didn’t go home empty-handed as The Power of the Dog director, Jane Campion, took home the best director Oscar. The New Zealander won in 1994 for her screenplay for The Piano, making her the third woman to win in that category.

On the musical side of film, the legendary composer Hans Zimmer took home the best score for Dune. Zimmer wasn’t present for the ceremony but shared a picture of himself in a bathrobe from across the pond with the Oscar statue firmly sitting in his robe pocket. The brother/sister team of Billie Eilish and Finneas took home the best song for “No Time to Die,” and achievement in sound also went to Dune.

Troy Kotsur, in a moving speech, took home the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in CODA. He became the second deaf actor to win an acting award, the first being his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin for Children of a Lesser God. Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina and openly queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar when she snagged hers for best-supporting actress (West Side Story), Jessica Chastain took home the best actress trophy for portraying disgraced televangelist Tammy Faye (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), using her platform to discuss awareness for suicide and the current anti-LGBQT+ regulations circulating the country.

2022 Oscars: The biggest moments at the 94th Academy Awards
Chris Rock after the Slap (Image: Screenshot)

Soon after the “slap heard around Hollywood,” Smith won the best actor golden statue for his turn as Venus and Serena Williams’ father and coach, Richard Williams, in the film King Richard. Smith, clearly emotional with tears streaming down his face, said the man he played was a “fierce defender of his family.” A clear-cut indicator pointing to what prompted him to leave his seat and slap Rock on a national stage in front of a slew of Hollywood’s elite, including Anthony Hopkins and Robert DeNiro. Not to mention Hollywood’s young and impressionable, like Billie Eilish and Zendaya. He did offer an apology, “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to my fellow nominees … Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams,” ending with, “I hope the Academy invites me back.” Smith beat out Javier Bardem for Being the Ricardos, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog, Andrew Garfield for Tick, Tick…BOOM! and Denzel Washington for The Tragedy of Macbeth.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) released a statement to the Daily News acknowledging the department knows about the “incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program.” Still, no police report has been filed as of press time. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

There are ripples throughout the industry that Smith could have his Oscar rescinded due to his actions. The Academy has not released a statement explicitly referencing the incident but did release the following: The AMPAS said it “does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winner, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”

However, according to its conduct code released in 2017 during the sexual misconduct scandal that rocked Hollywood, it emphasizes the importance of upholding the Academy’s values. During that time, Variety reported that AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson wrote to the members:

“Academy membership is a privilege offered to only a select few within the global community of filmmakers; in addition to achieving excellence in the field of motion picture arts and sciences, members must also behave ethically by upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity.

There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power, or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment, or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality. The Board of Governors believes that these standards are essential to the Academy’s mission and reflective of our values.”

One notable concern is what precedent Smith may have now set in terms of comedians getting slapped on-stage during a show when an audience member may not like one of their jokes. Comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted, “Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian. Now we all have to worry a bout who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”

Jimmy Kimmel, the talk show host and comedian who was the last person to host the Oscars, initially thought the confrontation was staged. On The Bill Simmons Podcast Kimmel said, “Was there anyone in the world who didn’t like Will Smith an hour ago in the world? Like no one, right? Now he doesn’t have a single comedian friend – that’s for sure.”

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill tweeted, “Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault … not so much.”

Emmy-winning comedian Paul Mercurio spoke with CelebrityAccess regarding the incident and what fallout could come from it. “This is not black and white. There are three nuances in this situation. First off, the practical execution. If you watch the show, initially, Will laughs at the joke, but Jada doesn’t. So, his first reaction was that he thought it was funny until he saw his wife’s face.” Mercurio continued, “Nothing is more telling than the immediate emotional response of somebody, and he went from laughing to slapping someone on an international broadcast. It doesn’t seem like his reaction was a genuine thought, but he felt it was appropriate after seeing Jada’s reaction to it.”

The second nuance Mercurio tells us is simple, “Look, Chris Rock is a brilliant comedian. If you want to tell a joke about someone’s funky hairstyle, go for it, but this had to do with her medical condition. The joke wasn’t edgy; Rock is smart, a great comic, and he takes chances.”

“Having said that, we go into the third nuance,” Mercurio says. “Jada didn’t have to like the joke, maybe she felt it was off-base, but did it warrant a slap across the face – No. You shouldn’t try to silence anyone just because you disliked a joke or what they said.” He continued, “Especially when its free speech in America and people are being silenced through violence – it’s called Ukraine. People’s freedoms are front and center in Russia and the Ukraine right now, we don’t want to become that. Use your words. Will and Jada have a publicist; they’ve been in this business a long time. They would have had the same impact if they’d released a joint statement voicing their displeasure with what Rock said or even took to social media and posted, ‘Chris, that wasn’t cool,’ or something like that. What Will did was polarizing and on a national broadcast with millions of people. If it had been addressed later, the impact would have been the same but without physical violence.”

When prompted about the future of comedians on stage and what repercussions could come from this, Mercurio touched all the bases with his response. “Look, if Will smacked him just because he made a joke about Jada’s shaved head, we’d be in a worse position than we are now. The fact that it wasn’t a joke about just a hairstyle makes this incident different. It was a joke about a hairstyle due to something medical. That is why I say “case by case” basis. As a comic, I hesitate when I go on stage – I think, ‘is something I do going to be too edgy,’ and I do it anyway. I don’t think comedians should back down from it.

Rock may not be filing an official report, but the court of public opinion is wide open and commenting with fervor. Twitter lit up after “Slapgate” as fans, industry experts, journalists, and celebrities took to their phones, making their thoughts known. Below are a few examples.

Judd Apatow (in a now-deleted tweet): “He could have killed him. That’s pure out-of-control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshmen in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.” Bipolar Andrew on Twitter captured Apatow’s many tweets, and you can see them below.

Director Rob Reiner wrote that there was “no excuse” for Smiths’ actions and ripped apart the actor’s Oscar acceptance speech that attempted to justify his behavior. “Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did. He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bullshit.”

Roger Ross Williams, a Black member of the Academy’s board of governors, told The Hollywood Reporter that he was in tears after watching the confrontation. “It reinforces stereotypes about Black people, and it just hurts me to my core,” he said. “Work it out someplace else, not on the stage.”

Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote: “I know we’re all still processing, but the way casual violence was normalized tonight by a collective national audience will have consequences that we can’t even fathom in the moment.”

TMZ is reporting this morning that Rock came out to talk to the couple at their Oscar table, but you didn’t see that on the broadcast. Per TMZ, the beef has been squashed, but it is unclear if Smith has offered Rock an apology or vice-versa, as what was spoken about has not been reported or confirmed. Smith continued with his night dancing to “Getting Jiggy Wit’ It” at the Oscar after-party.

See below for the complete list of Oscar winners.

“Don’t Look Up”
“Drive My Car”
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“West Side Story”
Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”
Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” *WINNER
Judi Dench, “Belfast”
Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”
Troy Kotsur, “CODA” *WINNER
Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog”
J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos”
Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”
“Drive My Car” *WINNER
“The Hand of God”
“Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
“The Worst Person in the World”
“Lead Me Home”
“The Queen of Basketball” *WINNER
“Three Songs for Benazir”
“When We Were Bullies”
“Summer of Soul” *WINNER
“Writing with Fire”
“King Richard”
“No Time to Die” *WINNER
“Four Good Days”
“Encanto” *WINNER
“The Mitchells vs. The Machine”
“Raya and the Last Dragon”
“Drive My Car”
“The Lost Daughter”
“The Power of the Dog”
Belfast” *WINNER
“Don’t Look Up”
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
“The Worst Person in the World”
Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”
Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick… Boom!”
Will Smith, “King Richard” *WINNER
Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” *WINNER
Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”
Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”
Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” *WINNER
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
“Dune” *WINNER
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”
“Dune” *WINNER
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”
“Cruella” *WINNER
“Nightmare Alley”
“Westside Story”
“Dune” *WINNER
“No Time to Die”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Westside Story”
“Affairs of the Art”
“Robin Robin”
“The Windshield Wiper” *WINNER
“Ala Kachuu — Take and Run”
“The Dress”
“The Long Goodbye” *WINNER
“On My Mind”
“Please Hold”
“Don’t Look Up”
“Dune” *WINNER
“Parallel Mothers”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Dune” *WINNER
“Free Guy”
“No Time to Die”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”
“Don’t Look Up”
“Dune” *WINNER
“King Richard”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Tick, Tick… Boom!”
“Coming 2 America”
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” *WINNER
“House of Gucci”












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