So, I did not watch the Academy Awards last night.
Oh, I know what I was thinking: Watching rich people pat each other on the back was not something I wanted to spend my time doing on a Sunday night. It’s funny, I keep a finger on pop culture, both with the age group I teach and that I’m on social media more than people in my generation. It’s a blessing and curse because when my students pop up with slang, I know the “good” slang and “bad” slang, yet, when I mention things and get that blank stare from people, ugh.
I didn’t watch last night and Chris Rock, a comedian, made a joke about Jada Pickett-Smith, Will Smith’s wife. Will took offense to the joke, walked up on stage, during a presentation, slapped Chris, turned around, and walked off the stage. It can be heard off-camera cursing at Rock and his joke.
I know, right?? Then, later in the night, Smith won an Academy Award for best actor in his portrait of Venus and Serena William’s father. Now, I love Will Smith as an actor, artist, and honestly as a person. He’s got a joy for life that few people have the courage to share, whether famous or not. From his rap career, to the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire”, to kicking alien butt, to being a dad, both on and off screen, his love for life is one of the physical things you can see about him.
And I get, someone makes a joke about my wife who is battling alopecia, thus shaving her head, can set a person off. However, poking fun those at the Academy Awards seems to be someone ALL hosts do! Good, bad, or otherwise, everyone there seems to be fair game for the hosts.
This does NOT excuse what Smith did, walking up, and cuffing Rock, then being profane back to his seat.
What is does do is put into question HOW someone can behave like this, return to their seat, then receive a major award. What does this say to the 99% of us who aren’t in Hollywood? Does it tell us that if we get offended at a local comedy club, we can walk up on stage and smack the comedian? Does it tell us that their are no consequences for our actions because (at the time of this writing), there haven’t been any for Smith. He did issue an apology, but not to Rock. Does this say that, when we do something stupid, we don’t need to apologize to those in the line of fire to our own stupidity?
What does this teach kids? All of them know Chris Rock and Will Smith and what they do. Shockingly, only two students mentioned that this event took place, but many of them will find out through their own contacts or social media searches. What does this tell them? When you get mad at someone, it’s ok to slap them because there are no consequences?
Today I tweeted out that I sitting there thinking about “why” of our world. This is one of those things. Why? Why have we allowed ourselves to reach this point? Better question, how have we allowed this to come to a debacle like this one? The Academy Awards was the highlight of glitz and glamour back in the day. After yesterday’s show, it just feels like another victim of the fact we cannot settle our differences without a physical confrontation.
That to me is the saddest part of all this, the fact a man told a inappropriate joke, and rather than wait until cooler heads could prevail, the winner of for the award of Best Male Actor got up, walked up, slapped a man, swore at him, and all seemed to be well.
This is not well.
Not. At. All.
We can do better and must. Once again, our kids are watching what we do.