This past Sunday the 94th Academy Awards aired. Though the Oscars are usually known for their class, this year’s event featured a shocking surprise.
During the show, American comedian Chris Rock was getting ready to announce the documentary Oscar when he made a joke about nominee Will Smith’s wife Jada Smith, saying, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, Can’t wait to see you.” In response, Will Smith walked onto the stage and slaps Rock across the face. Quick on his feet, Rock did not violently retaliate but immediately started to make a joke out of it, laughing and saying “Oh wow, wow…,” but the audio of the video cuts out as Smith is returning to his seat. The audience reports that during this loss of audio, Will Smith screamed at Rock twice to “Keep my wife’s name out of your F— mouth!”
Rock’s joke was based on Jada’s announcement back in 2018 that she had alopecia, a disease that causes hair loss.
It’s interesting to note that while Chris Rock is not a Christian, Will Smith is. Now, by no means do their beliefs excuse their actions. However, in the Bible Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Paul later states, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Based on this, I find myself more disappointed by Smith’s response because I believe he should have exerted more control over his actions since he has been liberated from sin and is publicly representing Christ.
I do think that both Rock and Smith were wrong. Rock should not have made fun of Jada because of a disease. Joking about people’s diseases or disabilities is cruel and often done out of ignorance. On the other hand, Smith should not have retaliated with physical violence. Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher, said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” When I worked with kids in the school system, children were taught on their first day of kindergarten to use their words. Rock was wrong to joke about Jada’s issues, yes. But Smith was also wrong. He should have addressed the matter in private with words. People will often say things about us or loved ones that we do not like. If we all went around hitting everyone who offended us, people would constantly be attacking others. Additionally, since Smith is a professing Christian, more is expected from him.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15).
All Scripture taken from the New International Version. Featured image from Fox News.