The Oscars, which were presented on television on Sunday, March 27, were full of historic firsts.
Three women were selected to host the event that hadn’t been live in two years. Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer were the chosen ones, and they joked that the three of them were cheaper than the Academy paying for one male presenter.
There were prestigious awards given out before the live broadcast. Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover, Liv Ullmann and Elaine May received Honorary Oscars, which the four deserve.
Actor Anthony Hopkins, Dame Judi Dench and Liza Minnelli were at the event. Will Packer, who has produced many films, was granted the task of producing the show, which turned out great. Packer is the first Black to have produced the Awards ceremony, and did so with an all Black production team.
Will Smith won Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams in the film “King Richard,” which told the story of Venus and Serena Williams and their hard journey—ushered in by their father and mother that landed them world-famous tennis phenoms.
But Smith’s announcement and acceptance of his award were a bit overshadowed by his slapping comedian Chris Rock after Rock made some unkind comments about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” said Rock. The reference was to Demi Moore’s previous film where Moore’s head was shaven for the role and the reality that Jada has lived with alopecia wasn’t in good taste, according to Smith. He walked up to the stage and violently slapped Rock. He returned to his seat and yelled “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth. The audio was turned off for at least a minute, and Rock and audience members were shocked, at first thinking it was a joke.
It was reported that Denzel Washington took Smith under his wings and tried to counsel/console him during the commercial break.
According to Page Six, Schumer tried to ease the tension in the room after Smith slapped Rock by saying, “I’ve been getting out of the “Spider-Man” costume, did I miss anything?” the comic, 40, questioned sarcastically, receiving laughter from the audience and kudos from fellow stand-up Tiffany Haddish. “There’s, like, a different vibe in here. Probably not. Well, anyway!” she added before moving on to jokingly call Kirsten Dunst a “seat filler.”
The jury is still out in what to think of this. Rock reportedly isn’t pressing charges, but in Smith’s subsequent acceptance speech, he tearfully apologized to the Academy but not to Rock. Will and Jada have been under scrutiny and made the butt of jokes lately. They are so open about their relationship. She reportedly had an affair with another man—much younger than her. Will talks so much “reality” in his self-titled book. I’m sure Will was just tired of folks coming after him and his wife. Certainly, the expression on Jada’s face showed her disapproval. However, whether this hurts Will’s popularity remains to be seen. Black Twitter certainly seems to be on his side. But you can’t help but bemoan the fact that his actions stained one of the most important nights of his career.
On another issue, when the Oscar hosts were doing a light roast of Jackson, his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, was listening to every word with an expression that signaled that she was ready to pounce if something negative was spoken.
Oh, Black love at work.
In late news, Smith apologized: “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.”
Also, the Academy reports that they are looking into the incident and will explore any further consequences.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader. She is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago.” For info, Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago (lulu.com) or email: [email protected].