I didn’t watch the Oscars last night, as being in my apartment, I’m not set up with Cable. The bulk of what I watch is usually through streaming networks. I followed along through Twitter, particularly with a little help from Through the Shattered Lens. Overall, I’m happy with the wins. You’ve a lot of first time winners in Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur, Jessica Chastain and Will Smith. Dune walked away with most of the visual / editing Oscars, which wasn’t a surprise. Jane Champion won Best Director for Power of the Dog, a great film. CODA deservedly walked away with the Best Picture trophy.
Unfortunately, all of it is overshadowed by that slap between Will Smith and Chris Rock. That completely took the rest of the show over (at least from what was discussed on Twitter). What should have been a magical night for Smith and everyone was tarnished as easily as the mistaken envelope incident with Moonlight & La La Land, if not worse.
I was reminded of J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars, which had a great chapter about a superhero with the ability to affect things on a molecular level. She might not be able to move a car or a person, but popping an artery was indeed possible. In the story, she planned to destroy the population of a land and our hero, The Poet, reasoned with her. He referenced a Hebrew word from Psalms in The Bible, Selah. It means to pause and consider, and was used as a break in the reading so the person could understand what they just learned.
Selah. Pause, and take a moment.
Will failed to do this. Had he taken a moment to just consider what getting up on that stage meant, would he have continued on, especially with the idea that he could still conceivably win later on in the night? I don’t know. Maybe he did think about it and felt that was “thing to do”, which makes it worse. I mean, it’s the Oscars. You’re talking a celebration of movies where historically, you entered in dressed to the nines and on one’s best behavior. Civilized, my aunt would say. Announcements begin with the words “Ladies and Gentlemen” for a reason. It’s not exactly the place for a throwdown. That brings me to my second thought.
People are going to push your buttons.
You will always have someone out there who will attempt to push your buttons, to either get a rise out of you or to knock you off your game. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why I don’t get so angry (as if I’m supposed to be, 24/7), where I get my patience from (as if it’s an impossible thing), or who presented me with a spider (toy or otherwise), I could own a Lamborghini. Most people are thick skinned, or learn to grow one real quick. In a situation like the Oscars, which has comedians making fun of individuals in the audience (let’s face it, it can be like a Roast), Smith had to have known some jokes were going to be thrown his way. He could have shrugged it off, not give anyone the satisfaction and take the High Ground. If anything, he could have glared at Rock or at least shook his head and gestured to his wife (who appeared hurt).
With that slap, you have a whole group of people who assumed that’s what Will always was like deep down, and he played into their thought patterns perfectly. We went from Sidney Poitier, charisma and coolness, with very little that anyone could ever argue about, all the way to Will Smith, that guy who slapped Chris Rock on stage over a joke at the Oscars in front of a live audience. There’s no PR firm that can clean up all that red. POC’s are going have a tough time trying to convince some people of anything else, going forward.
Which leads me to my last thought. Don’t air out your Dirty Laundry in front of Everyone.
With that one slap (and the yell afterward), Will Smith threw his dirty laundry out into the open. Had he followed those first two steps, the wise thing would have been to take it outside or offstage. All he had to do was give Chris Rock a look like “Man, no, no, not that.”, and I’m almost certain Rock would have understood. There’s a line in The Godfather – “Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking.” Now everyone in that theatre, hell, everyone on the planet knows that you get Will a little off if you mention his wife. Anyone that doesn’t like him is going to thrown that in his face like calling Marty McFly a chicken. I have no idea how he’s getting past this going forward, but I hope that both fixes whatever issues are happening in his life both privately and professionally.
As such, I’m marking this down as an Incident, and bringing the counter down to Zero.