Students react to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

By: Sierra Wells

Managing Editor

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27 after Rock made a joke comparing Jada Pinkett Smith to G.I. Jane.

This event has ignited controversy throughout the country on whether it is appropriate for people to react to speech with violence, with some people defending Smith’s actions and others condemning him. 

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Academy Awards
Photo Courtesy: CBS News

Tarleton State University computer science major James Merlino does not think Smith had a right to hit Rock over the joke.

“I mean he’s definitely in a wrong spot. I mean you have a comedian who’s there; his job is to roast people, and instead he took it in a sensitive way,” Merlino said. “So, he’s hating on somebody for evidently doing their job correctly, for making other people laugh.”

When Will Smith returned to his seat, he continued to yell at Rock, voicing his displeasure with the joke.

“Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,” Smith said.

Pinkett Smith has been vocal in the past about her struggle with alopecia, which results in her hair loss.

The day after the award show aired, the Academy issued a statement on their Twitter account concerning their stance on the slap.

“The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world,” the Academy said.

On March 28, Smith publicly apologized through Instagram and denounced his violent actions.

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” Smith said. ” Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”

Smith later chose to resign from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

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