The Slap Heard Round the World, or What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?

I learned last night while catching up on the news that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on the stage of the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, aka the Oscars, for making a joke about Smith’s wife. Now, I thought, the Oscars have figured out how to make this long, boring show interesting: have the participants assault each other. Next year, they could have the participants have spontaneous sex on stage and give us the complete complement that is the stock-in-trade of this industry: sex and violence.

After the Smith/Rock kerfuffle, what a passel of tweets and commentary will come this morning:


• Smith should not have struck Rock publicly on stage as it is a bad look for Black folks, especially Black men performing violence like that on one another, normalizing violence (Stephen A. Smith/Black civil rights view)


• The Puritanism of the outrage machine have made it impossible for comedians to tell tasteless jokes, blunting the whole point of comedy being that it offends somebody. (the Seinfeld/Dave Chappelle view)


• Black men coming to the defense of Black women who are being made fun of for a medical condition is a good and righteous thing. (the Ayanna Pressley and Black women of Wakanda view)


• No White man would have gotten away with slapping Rock on stage if he had been offended by one of Rock’s jokes. (the J. D. Rucker, The Liberty Daily, and White conservative view)


• Jada Pinkett Smith should have been the person to slap Rock as she was the object of the joke, not her husband, so the whole demonstration was sexist. (the feminist and Black women of Wakanda view)


• The whole thing was staged to get the Oscars viewers and additional press and social media coverage following the show; the whole affair shows how shoddy our culture has become. (the Allan Bloom and hip cynic view)


• Why should anybody care what some rich, cis-gendered men do on a stage? (the LGBTQ view)


• Why should anybody care what some rich, able-bodied men do on a stage? (the disabled view)


• Why should anybody care what some rich men, so privileged that they can air their differences publicly as a form of entertainment while poor men are called pathological for doing the same thing, do on a stage? (the Marxist view)


• Las Vegas oddsmakers are giving 8-to-5 odds against Rock initiating a lawsuit. (the gaming industry view)


• Did Chris Rock and Will Smith arrive at the Oscars in fossil fuel cars? (the climate change view)


• What a glorious thing Will Smith has done for the male code of honor; when is the duel? (the Confederate/Southern gentleman view)



And so it goes.