Chris Rock Was Right To Go After Will Smith

Chris Rock was within his rights to criticize Will Smith after being physically attacked in public.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

chris rock will smith

In his new special, Selective Outrage, Chris Rock concluded his act by analyzing the comedian’s most infamous incident. The special aired on Netflix a year after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair loss. Rock used the special as a chance to vent about the situation, and he was well within his rights to do so.

After the slap, Will Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of his own accord and was subsequently banned from the Academy’s events for a ten-year period. The slow, floundering response by the Academy exhibited the organization’s lack of preparedness for the situation, and lack of willingness to punish such a powerful, beloved celebrity.

Smith endured criticism from fans and the media when the slap became a ubiquitous topic of discussion for about a month. But Will Smith has been in the entertainment business for decades. He has had highs and lows with critics and audiences, and he should know how to take a blow, even if it’s a joke about his loved ones.

A year later, Will Smith is making light of the incident with Chris Rock on TikTok, accepting awards for his performance in Emancipation, and moving forward with a massive slate of movies. And that Oscar Will Smith won minutes after smacking Chris Rock? He kept it.

chris rock will smith

Not much seems to have changed for the A-lister. But after a year of remaining quiet on the issue, Chris Rock destroyed Will Smith in a matter of ten minutes.

As Chris Rock pointed out in the special, Will Smith brings a lot on himself. Rock asked the audience how many people in the room had been cheated on, then interviewed by the person that cheated on them, on television. Rock expertly pointed out the toxicity surrounding Will Smith, his family, and his celebrity status, saying Jada hurt Will Smith more than Will Smith ever hurt him.

He also called Smith a practitioner of selective outrage. Will Smith had a lot going on in his life – he had just endured a very public humiliation at the hands of his wife. Everyone was criticizing Smith. He just happened to take the frustration out on Chris Rock.

Chris Rock admitted that he loved and rooted for Will Smith for most of his life. But after the slap, the gloves were off. Chris Rock is a comedian. Turning pain into jokes is his craft, his form of expression, his livelihood. When you mess with a bull, you get the horns. When you mess with Chris Rock, you get ten minutes of brutal retaliation streamed on Netflix

He called Will Smith, who is much bigger than Rock, a coward for picking a fight with someone he knew he could beat. Still, Chris Rock maintains that he is not a victim, but instead pities Will Smith. And with that pity has come a total loss of respect. 

Nothing Chris Rock said about Will Smith wasn’t already out there. Rock just formed it so it could be clearly observed, offering a top-down criticism of Will Smith and his family. Was it brutal? Yes. Was it deserved? It doesn’t matter. Because in the world of comedy, no one is safe, and that’s exactly how it should be.