White people outraged by Will Smith slap are 'racist', says culture writer

Smith went onstage at the Oscars and hit Chris Rock, after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss

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Writer Tayo Bero has criticised white people's response to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th annual Academy awards show, calling white people's comments of outrage "downright racist at worst."

Bero wrote in The Guardian: "This kind of performative pearl-clutching is reserved for Black men who mess up. It was a bad incident, but the Oscars have seen worse.

"Most people agree the slap shouldn’t have happened. But there’s something that feels precious at best, and downright racist at worst, about white people’s reaction to the now-infamous smack," wrote the columnist.

Will Smith has been condemned by the Academy as it launched a formal review into his altercation with comedian Chris Rock during the Oscars ceremony.

The 94th annual awards show was thrown into chaos when Smith went onstage and hit the comedian in front of a star-studded audience, after Rock made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss.

The opinion columnist mentioned Judd Apatow's now-deleted tweets about the slap, in which the director said Smith “could have killed” Rock and dubbed the incident “pure out of control rage and violence”.

In a now-deleted tweet, Judd Apatow criticised the actor for the slap and wrote: “He could have killed him."
In a now-deleted tweet, Judd Apatow criticised the actor for the slap and wrote: “He could have killed him."

Bero also highlighted Howard Stern's comparison of the Fresh Prince star with Donald Trump.

The culture writer and radio producer explained "it’s clear that many people (even those in the community who mean well) only find the incident so objectionable because they hoped Smith would perform propriety for white people in that space."

Bero highlighted other instances of violence at the awards ceremony, such as John Wayne having to be restrained in 1973, writing "Smith is being held up to much stricter standards than white men who have behaved just as badly or even worse in those settings."

Will Smith poses with his Oscar as he arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party during the 94th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., March 27, 2022.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Will Smith poses with his Oscar as he arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party during the 94th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

John Wayne was restrained by six security guards when he attempted to attack Apache President of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee, Sacheen Littlefeather.

Littlefeather was accepting the best actor award on behalf of Marlon Brando, who boycotted the 1973 awards ceremony to protest against Hollywood's treatment of Native Americans.

Smith has issued a public apology to Chris Rock after slapping the comedian at the Oscars.

The 53-year-old called his behaviour at the Academy Awards “unacceptable and inexcusable” and said he was embarrassed by his actions.

Smith added that the joke about his wife’s medical condition had caused him to react “emotionally” but “violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive”.

In a statement posted to Instagram the actor said: “I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.

“I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

“I would also like to apologise to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologise to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family.

“I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”

Smith concluded his apology by saying: “I am a work in progress.”