Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards last Sunday is likely to stick around in the Hollywood discussion for years if it ever really goes away at all. In what will surely be the most infamous moment in the award show’s history, we are certain to see pictures and videos of it for time on end. It was an ugly affair that really still feels kind of unbelievable considering the context, the stage, the number of eyes on it, and the players involved. Even at this point if you told me it had been staged I’d have to consider it some. And among all of this, it doesn’t appear the Academy has fully figured out what to do about the situation. In fact, there is still some burbling that they could revoke Will Smith’s Best Actor Oscar before it’s all said and done.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, earlier in the week there was an emergency phone call among the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to discuss the incident and possibly start a full review of the situation. While it’s unclear what exactly this review would entail except watching the video of the slap infinity times in a row (like the rest of America has seemed to do), there’s some speculation that one possible outcome could be voiding Will Smith’s Best Actor win.
But that does seem unlikely considering the circumstances. It would be one thing to sanction Will Smith in some way because of what happened, but it would be another thing to just completely wipe away the award. It’s hard to imagine the Academy wanting to walk down that path simply because it would invite all kinds of other questions and possibly set a precedent they wouldn’t want to keep up over time. Instead, there is some thought that a review could mean that Will Smith (according to THR) has his Academy membership removed or some curtailing of his appearances for a certain amount of time.
No matter what, it’s clear that the incident with Will Smith and Chris Rock cast a pall over the entire Academy Awards and Smith’s actions clearly overshadowed the fact that he actually won the award this year for his role in King Richard. And for those living under a rock for the last week, this all stems from Will Smith walking on stage and slapping Chris Rock after the latter made a joke aimed at Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Will Smith has offered a formal apology to the Academy and to Chris Rock saying he was “out of line” and “wrong”. So there would appear to be some regret there, especially after the fallout of the incident. But again, there could be more in store for Will Smith when it comes to the Academy Awards and his future there. And while it might be unlikely, there’s no certainty that he retains the award that he won this year, especially if the Academy’s Board of Governors decides they want to send some kind of message about the incident.