Effective immediately, April 8, Smith will be banned from attending the Oscars and any other Academy events —albeit virtual or in-person— for ten years. A brief statement issued on behalf of Smith by his spokesperson said, “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”
Smith’s fate hung in the balance as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors toiled over befitting consequences for the actor’s unprecedented actions. The “I Am Legend” actor shocked millions on March 27 when his response to Rock’s joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald appearance, and her seemingly unamused reaction, resulted in him walking on stage, slapping the comedian, and retuning to his seat where he yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—-g mouth!” Pinkett Smith has publicly shared that she suffers from alopecia, a fact that some claimed Rock was unaware of when he made the unscripted joke.
Moments after Smith lashed out he won best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father to tennis phenoms Venus and Serena Williams, in one of the most praised films of the awards season, “King Richard.” His tearful acceptance speech was noticeably absent of an apology to Rock, but did briefly make mention of the incident.
The Box Office superstar later issued a public apology to Rock via a statement posted to his social accounts. “I was out of line and I was wrong,” he wrote while condemning violence in a “world of love and kindness” the following day.
Actions taken against the actor do not include revoking his sole Oscar, nor will he be barred from nominations during the tenure of his ban. Smith, in a written statement, announced he had resigned from the Academy on April 1 while awaiting the Academy to take action which could have resulted in the loss of his Oscar, as well as suspension or expulsion from the organization.
Following the Academy’s decision, a letter was sent to its members. “We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast,” wrote Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin.
The incident has been polarizing among Smith and Rock’s industry peers as well as fans, many of whom have chosen to stand by one or the other. In the wake of Smith’s actions there were calls for him to lose his Oscar and ultimately his career as critics mobilized an effort to cancel the actor. Others however felt Smith was only protecting his wife despite his actions being unsupported.
Rock has indicated he does not intend to skirt the support or naysayers who feel he deserved the slap; the “Good Hair” documentarian has been tight-lipped on the matter but stated he will address the matter in a serious but funny way at a later date.
Still, news of the ban has drawn responses that show the public remains committed to being divided on the matter.
“Shoulda been for life but okay that’s a first step,” commented a person who hoped for steeper sanctions.
“Fair. By then everyone would forget because they’ll be someone else to cancel.”
“Did he kill somebody over there? 10 years is way too much, it was a slap.”
“What occurred between Will Smith and Chris Rock honestly should have never happened. The consequence of those actions mean a 10 year ban from Will Smith ever attending anything Oscar related. And it may be a couple of years before we see another Will Smith movie,” tweeted one person.
“Will Smith resigns from the Academy then gets a 10-year ban, so he can’t attend. Key, he gets to keep the coveted award that has alluded him his entire carer. So, is he bothered? I wouldn’t have known the Oscars had happened if it wasn’t for him! That is a fact!”
“Absolutely appalled that Will Smith will be invited back to the Oscars…A lifetime ban is the only way to handle an ASSAULT!”
“Will Smith was wrong and deserves some type of consequences but a 10 year ban is too far.”