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2 Apr, 2022 13:30

Will Smith’s ‘delivery’ at the Oscars is symptomatic of cancel culture gone mad

The ‘Oscars slap’ that resounded around the world is just a new facet of a growing problem
Will Smith’s ‘delivery’ at the Oscars is symptomatic of cancel culture gone mad

The spectacle of comedian Chris Rock being assaulted at the Academy Awards by Will Smith reveals something fundamentally wrong, even sick, about American society, overwhelmed as it is with violence and cancel culture.

For those who missed the best primetime television in many years, the comedian Chris Rock, while performing a routine at the 94th Academy Awards, cracked a lame joke about the actor Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 

“Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2,” he quipped, a reference to the woman’s shaved head due to a hair loss condition brought about by an autoimmune disease she suffers from.

Seen laughing at first, Smith, realizing that his wife was not favorably impressed with being the butt of a joke, strolled on stage and delivered a resounding smack to the side of Rock’s face. Smith then returned to his front-row seat, where he hurled expletive-filled comments. Perhaps the only thing that saved the situation from requiring the National Guard was Rock’s remarkable ability to keep the show going.

Smith’s behavior was so shocking that – aside from momentarily halting talk of World War III in its tracks – it had many viewers convinced it was a publicity stunt, a staged event to boost sagging viewership of America’s premier bonfire of the vanities. Will Smith may be a good actor, but he’s not that good. That fact is, we have wandered precariously far from our grandparents’ – even from our parents’ – halcyon days of America. 

Smith’s erratic behavior serves as a metaphor for a nation that is now tearing itself apart with gratuitous violence, much of which has been engendered by Hollywood itself, and not just with the devilish, blood-stained productions it churns out annually. 

Consider the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, for example, which saw numerous looters, arsonists, and thieves – responsible for a billion-dollar wave of private property destruction that stretched coast-to-coast – being released from prison thanks to the benevolent intervention of Hollywood actors like Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, and Ben Schwartz (all of whom can afford to live in high-security gated communities, by the way), who happily bailed them out of their incarceration. What kind of example does that set for society, especially the more criminally-minded?

And what about Jussie Smollett? In 2019, this Hollywood actor staged a hate crime against himself, sending the overworked Chicago Police Department on a wild goose chase for ‘white supremacists’ that only existed in his febrile imagination. What price did Smollett pay for hiring two Nigerian brothers to enact a crime scene of racist violence, which included the highly provocative plot device of a noose? On March 10, Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in county jail. Yet his attorneys immediately filed an appeal, posted bond, and today the young man is already back on the streets.

Then there is California – the decadent citadel of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and defunct liberal politics – where the act of enforcing the law has practically become a crime itself. Today, it’s just another day in the neighborhood to see gangs of young thugs clearing out retail stores of merchandise as shop clerks look helplessly on. This new craze among the misguided miscreants was inspired by an amendment to California’s legal code – in reality an invitation – which says that stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is just a misdemeanor. The next thing we’ll probably be seeing is various Bloods and Crips asking nervous sales clerks to ring up their goods just to make sure they didn’t commit a felony.

The insanity has gotten so out of control that many liberals call these coordinated thefts an acceptable form of ‘reparations’ for the slavery that African Americans were forced to endure many decades ago (what the argument fails to consider, however, aside from pure logic, is that many white youths are also participating in the ‘five-finger discounts’).

Although the ‘Oscars incident’ cannot be simplified as a matter of race, unfortunately that is exactly where the mainstream media is leading the discussion. In response to the spectacle of two Black celebrities being in the spotlight for undesirable reasons, it was just a matter of time before ‘white privilege’ – the one-size-fits-all solution to any social problem – was dragged kicking and screaming into the conversation. 

Tayo Bero, a columnist for The Guardian, argued that, “White outrage about Will Smith’s slap is rooted in anti-Blackness,” before going on to say that she found it hard to fathom that “the same white audiences who consume violence against Black people on screen to an almost fetishistic degree … are so distraught about an open-palm slap.”

In other words, I guess we should be grateful that Will Smith merely slapped Rock. It seems that Bero conveniently forgets that violence in the movies is one thing, but real-life aggression against another person is an altogether different animal. In fact, the police even asked Rock if he wished to press charges against Smith, but the comedian naturally declined.

Lurking in the background of this debate is something that has been casually overlooked, it seems, and that is the deranged ‘cancel culture’ that much of the Western world has been forced to inhabit. Comedy, as Chris Rock discovered the painful way, is no longer the fun-loving occupation it once was. Sure, laughing at the expense of someone’s life-changing disease is in pretty poor taste, but when has poor taste ever stopped comedy? It should be a matter for a booing crowd, not physical assault. The bar on human stupidity got raised at the Oscars to another level, and there is no doubt that some fools out there will be tempted to see Will Smith’s example of ‘heroism’ and raise it a few extra feet. 

This goes beyond mere concern for comedians, of course, who are now forced, like everyone else, to navigate the unpredictable terrain of people’s ever-changing ‘feelings’. There’s a push now to make it a hate crime to carelessly address someone with the wrong gender pronoun, for example, of which there now appear to be hundreds. 

In some ways, Will Smith appeared as the personification of the omnipotent government or corporation that today enforces its powerful will anytime somebody gets offended. Criminals get tired of being arrested, we move to defund police departments; students feel frustrated when they can’t pass their math exams, we move to cancel the axioms of mathematics; a comedian offends our sensibilities, we storm the stage and hit him in the mouth. 

In this crazy matrix of virtue-signaling that we’ve allowed to be constructed around us like a cage, whoever screams the loudest and kicks up the greatest fuss wins. And it’s the very same rule for social media. The precedent for intolerance has been set. Users are not only getting smacked down for the crime of ‘wrongthink’, they are literally disappearing every day for expressing opinions that do not conform with those of the liberal overlords who now control this virtual prison planet like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, manipulating the dials on his mystical algorithms. 

Today, our social interaction, which once upon a time happened face-to-face, has been reduced to that of a social media ‘user’, each of whom is able to create their own island of like-minded people; heaven forbid should a dissenting voice creep into the ether and disturb our tranquility. And when we are forced to confront criticism, different thinking or even jokes in the real world – in Will Smith’s case, at the Oscars – we may be compelled to strike out like, well, Will Smith. 

We’ve forgotten how to accept criticism because our sanitized and isolated world, underwritten by cancel culture fanatics with heavy axes to grind, no longer condones it. Meanwhile, we’ve forgotten in our relative isolation from our fellow man that there is no ‘block’ button in the real world, just millions of jail cells waiting to be filled. 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.