Editor : Diahanne Rhiney
It should have been a momentous occasion – not only because the historic Oscars brings together a class act of great, aspiring, and professional actors, directors, and supporters in the showbiz world, but it effectively showcases to the world specific scenes that captures the nominees at their best.
Sadly on 27th March the Oscars showcased an ugly scene that did not form part of any act, instead being a real time performance no one could have anticipated.
Basically, Chris Rock said something untoward and insensitive about Will Smith’s wife Jada and Will reacted in outrage by slapping Chris across the face. What was evident at first is that the audience was laughing, and Will was seen to be laughing uncomfortably. But Jada herself although not laughing, from her body language it was obvious that something was amiss which Will picked up on and that led him to react adversely. Let’s face it, nobody wants to see hurt, especially if it’s directed at loved ones.
Although I will never condone any form of violence, physical or verbal against another, I do believe that Chris and Will, both respected veterans of film and television, ironically comedy, crossed the line. But is that to be any more expected, just because you’re a comedian? Or just because we are all imperfect? Some people would argue yes. I dare say if anyone other than a comedian made that statement on a world stage about Jada being in “GI Jane 2” – seemingly a reference to her shaved head, nobody would be laughing, especially if they were aware of her recent revelation about suffering from alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.
Everything we do or say has consequences, some for good and some for bad. Simply put, we are all imperfect which is why I strongly feel that self-reflection and self-control are critical to the way we live our lives because we just don’t know what another person is going through, how they are feeling and what their mental state is. It’s hard but it calls for a certain amount of forethought before we act or speak. Recently I’ve experienced two major losses in one week. It has truly been a rollercoaster couple of weeks where my emotions were and continue to be all over the place. I found it hard to think, concentrate, or focus on anything. During the course of it all someone asked me how I was to which I said, “It’s absolutely overwhelming.” The same person then said “But you are so strong? On another occasion, my partner said something, which I can’t even remember exactly what it was, but I just snapped! This was so out of character for me. But I snapped simply because I couldn’t take any more; I had so much going on mentally, emotionally, and physically and it was just too much for me to bear. I hated the fact that someone would just assume that I was ok probably based on my usual confident and upright self. I was far from it and give no indicators to be otherwise. I know when I am weak, and I also know when I am strong.
It is heart-breaking to lose control of your emotions and in the incident at the Oscars, especially when that someone is a role model like Will Smith, its damning. True, we live in a very hypocritical world where people are quick to judge, draw attention and find faults with others but as a person of faith I’m always empowered by the expression: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.”
What Chris said about Jada was inconsiderate and inexcusable, given that none of us can rightly know what’s going on behind the scenes in another’s life and is precisely why we need to always be alert and mindful of others. I’m not saying we should not voice our opinions, and thoughts as we’re all entitled to free speech, but today’s glass bowl of social media platforms has also heightened our sensitivity where everyone’s opinion matters, whether its deemed right or wrong.
The Oscars incident did shock me, but I’m finding more and more lately that our expectations of others are increasing so much, to the point where we begin losing our moral compass, and filters. And then it becomes dangerous.
One statement Will said that stood out for me, and based on his role as Richard Williams, father to Venus and Serena, in King Richard: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.” I would reiterate that if we do love our fellow man, and I’m not saying we are bound to love everyone, but that quality would attribute to our daily actions and if and when we do say and act wrongly, it would motivate us to be humble enough to apologise when we hurt someone. We shouldn’t have to smile and pretend everything is ok when it’s not and equally try to live up to someone else’s standards which is one of the biggest accelerators of Mental health issues.
Anything we do is open to questioning; but it’s how we respond to it that counts. If we are determined to do good and treat others well, we will not be harsh critics, but rather real bastions of kindness who acknowledge our own imperfections instead of being judgmental or critical of our fellow man.
I commend Will’s emotional apology to the Academy and efforts to ‘take back control’ of the situation by staging a family photoshoot and reflecting on his greatest achievements, but he could never take back what he did that night, and that’s the sad part.