Because we live in a very strange and unfortunate timeline, part of the conversation surrounding the recent 94th Academy Awards ceremony involves Arnold Schwarzenegger, professional YouTuber Logan Paul, and what we can loosely call “slapping as a competition.” Whereas previous Academy Award controversies were mostly limited to that time that Faye Dunaway read the wrong Best Picture winner and everyone blamed Warren Beatty, and that other time in which David Niven totally roasted a streaker. However, as everyone in the world currently knows, this year, movie star Will Smith walked on stage to slap comedian Chris Rock in the face after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith. And because the world is a very weird place, now people want Kindergarten Cop star and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger to invite Will Smith to next year’s Slap Fighting Championship.
Sigh. Here’s what some people have to say on Twitter:
Some context for this: Arnold Schwarzenegger recently partnered with controversial streamer Logan Paul to host the “Slap Fighting Championships” at Schwarzenegger’s annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Competitive slapping as a sport has been picking up momentum in recent years, with it first exploding in popularity in Russia and then moving worldwide. Some expect it to become the new MMA fighting, because there are people in the world who believe these kinds of things. The sport generally involves two contestants facing each other and trading slaps, while a set of three judges evaluates who is the winner. This is now part of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life, as is Logan Paul, whose many controversies include him streaming the body of a recent suicide in Japan. While slap fighting is definitely fun for those that like it, and Arnold Schwarzenegger goes out of his way to posit it as a gateway for people to actually begin participating in athletic endeavors that will improve the body, it seems unlikely they will be able to get Will Smith to join.
The incident in which Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards has immediately become a topic of enormous cultural conversation. Essentially every element and lens through which it can be examined is already being done so; racism, sexism, classism, the acceptability of violence, the potentiality of staged performances, the context in which comedy can be performed, and the acceptability of jokes around autoimmune disorders are all being utilized to analyze it. If anything, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Logan Paul being pushed to invite Will Smith to a slapping contest is a relatively simple angle.
All that said, neither Arnold Schwarzenegger, Logan Paul, nor Will Smith have shown any interest in the latter being involved in next year’s Slap Fighting Championship. Given that Smith (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams just minutes after the incident) is being investigated by the Academy for his actions, it feels unlikely that he will want to join in on the slapping fun. But in the end, people can hope for more slaps.