In his new special, Chris Rock says Will Smith slapped him in "selective outrage" about public gossip surrounding his marriage.
As the 2023 Academy Awards ceremony looms in the not-so-distant future, last year’s major disturbance caused by Will Smith is still all some of us can think about. It’s hard to believe that what’s been dubbed as “the slap heard round the world” happened a full year ago, but the assaulted party, Chris Rock sure hasn’t forgotten. In fact, Rock has turned it into a profitable bruising, bringing in viewers by the droves for his latest Netflix comedy special in which he absolutely decimates the I Am Legend actor, noting that the slap had nothing to do with him and everything about Smith’s “selective outrage” surrounding the “entanglements” within his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith.
Aptly titled Selective Outrage, Chris Rock made audiences wait for his takedown of Smith until the tail end of the special. But, when he began, he came in guns a-blazin’ saying that the King Richard actor was only striking out against Rock because his wife was having an extramarital affair with “her son’s friend.” Rock notes that while he wouldn’t typically bring things to such a low point, both Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith “put that sh*t on the internet,” leaving the topic as open and fair game for him to use in his routine.
Chris Rock went on to say that no matter what damage Will Smith caused him that night at the Oscars, he knows that his wife has “hurt him way more than he hurt me.” He added that after the incident he tried to call Smith but that the Bright actor “wouldn’t pick up for me,” going on to say that he knew he could pick on Rock and that he wouldn’t fight back.
Although he says that he has a lot of “love” for Will Smith, a performer who he has respected for his “whole life” both in music and in film, the only reason he didn’t strike back against his assaulter was that his parents taught him to not “fight in front of white people.”
After giving the crowd what they wanted, Chris Rock closed the special on that line to a cheering audience that was thrilled to finally hear what the legendary comedian had to say about one of the most talked about occurrences of 2022. And if you, for some reason, are tired of hearing about the drama that unfolded at last year’s Academy Award celebrations, there are plenty of other timely comedic bits that Rock gets messy with. From Elon Musk to Meghan Markle, abortion rights in America, and even OJ Simpson, the gags are all there from the comedian who has never been afraid to stomp on toes.
As a refresher, the moment in question happened when Chris Rock was on stage presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature. As comedic presenters tend to do, Rock was doing an interactive audience bit, taking jabs at various attendees while warming the crowd up for the big announcement. However, things went a little too far (at least in the Smith family’s eyes) when Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, telling her that he was excited to see her appear in G.I. Jane 2.
Although it initially received a laugh from Will Smith, Chris Rock’s remark struck a chord with Jada Pinkett Smith, and in a matter of seconds we all watched in astonishment and horror as Will Smith strut up on stage, hauled his right hand back, and open-handed slapped Chris Rock across his face. As he returned to his seat, the Men in Black star hurled some swear words at the presenter and told him to essentially keep his wife’s name out of his mouth. To say the world was dumbstruck would be an understatement with many wondering what had just happened.
Although he would go on to take home the award for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, his actions against Chris Rock put a major damper on the night for Will Smith who has been barred from attending the Oscars in person for the foreseeable future. While it later came out that Smith acted this way because his wife struggled with alopecia, with the actor releasing a few apologies and even making jokes, it still stands as a firm example of “violence is never the answer.” Check out what Rock had to say about the event and more on his latest standup special Selective Outrage, now streaming on Netflix.