Special to USAfricaonline.com
Chris Rock deserved Will Smith’s smack for disrespecting his wife in his presence. By Ken Okorie, attorney and member of the editorial board of USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston
Comedian Chris Rock is occasionally known to make some jokes that seem offbeat. Tonight at the Oscars, Chris’s joke about the bald head of Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of best-actor winner, Will Smith, was not just offbeat it was off-tune. Moreover, it was off timing.
While on stage to announce an award, Chris Rock said: “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2. Can’t wait to see it.”
Will Smith, who was sitting by his wife at the time, did not find the joke funny and showed his displeasure in dramatic fashion that, in my assessment, earned him double Best Performance of the night. He actually stole the show, in my view. I say double kudos to Will.
First, you don’t make a public joke about a man’s wife in his presence. Doing so was disrespectful, not just to Will Smith, but of the Academy and the viewing public.
Secondly, while it is unclear what Chris meant or intended with his joke; it simply did not come out right. Was he merely joking or flirting, or was he hinting or suggesting some unsavory underhand relationship with a man’s wife…… and doing so in the most public of places? Perhaps he should explain to Will as part of a merited public apology.
A man, however accomplished or not, comes to an event like the Oscars, expecting his pride and respect to remain intact. A woman comes not expecting to be ridiculed. Neither comes expecting to be the object of slimy, tasteless joke. A man’s wife is his pride, contributes to shaping his sense of self, as well as the respect he commands from peers. Will Smith has earned the respect of the entire world. Chris Rock should know better.
Some of the historic flavors of tonight’s Oscar deserve to be noted. Will Smith, a Black man, won Best Actor, something that does not happen often. Another Black, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, won Best Director. But Chris Rock’s unwarranted effrontery was a near spoiler.
Rather than let Chris Rock spoil his fun and achievement, Will Smith stood to defend and protect his vital interest, his wife and her honor. He did so in a manner that enhanced his respect and prestige, and reassured his wife, any wife. The applause that flowed confirm this.
When the exchange was over, Will Smith sobbed as he accepted the award in the Leading Man category. But his was tears of honor that said “Keep the hell off” to an unwelcome intruder. In a tears-drenched emotional moment, Will said. “Love makes you do crazy things” and apologized to the Academy and to his co-nominees. He handled an ugly situation in a most human, most respectable, most justified manner. Even if Chris makes another misstep of legal action, a finder of facts will likely conclude that Will was provoked. In other words, Chris Rock did earn himself the punch, perhaps more.
Jokes are healthy and refreshing. Chris Rock also makes jokes that keep people giggling. Tonight he missed his mark. Will Smith wondered if the Academy would invite him back. It is my view that if anyone has reason to wonder about, and perhaps not have anything with, future Oscars, it should be Chris Rock. It is never a good thing to take a good joke too far. His joke tonight was did not only go too far, it was not good. Will’s punch was a deserved reward for such recklessness.