Oscars Slap - How Chris Rock's 2009 'Good Hair' Doc Explains Will Smith's Beef
In an alternate universe, Oscars' discourse is being dominated by Kristen Stewart's decision to wear shorts, or maybe how everyone, including Dame Judi Dench, could see Timothee Chalamet's bare tummy. But here on Earth-Prime (or the evil mirror universe Earth, let's be honest), everybody's talking about the slap; the now-infamous moment in which the dude from Wild Wild West straight-up smacked the dude from Grown Ups 2 in front of all of Hollywood, plus Tony Hawk for some reason.
While this incident has already become a veritable factory for internet hot takes, it's hard to know exactly what to think about it. On the one hand, assault is serious and wrong. On the other hand, anyone who watched James Franco host in 2011 can sympathize with the urge to violently storm the Oscars' stage. Also, it is admittedly funny to see two men in their literal 50s go full "rumble at a middle school musical."
While we're not saying that Chris Rock's joke in any way justified the ensuing physical violence, it was an extremely bad joke. Like on multiple levels. First of all, Rock saying that he "can't wait" to see Jada Pinkett Smith star in "G.I. Jane 2" is a line that would have seemed lame and dated on a 1998 episode of Jay Leno's Tonight Show. Even Ridley Scott has forgotten that G.I. Jane was a thing at this point. But most importantly, the joke was seemingly a crack about Pinkett Smith's shaved hair, which is the result of her recent struggles with hair loss due to alopecia, something she has been admirably very public about.
What makes this all extra-infuriating is that Chris Rock totally knows better. It would be in poor taste for any comedian to try and milk laughs from someone's chronic illness, but it is especially bad coming from Rock, who literally made a documentary about how American culture has historically stigmatized Black women's hair: 2009's Good Hair.
Weirder still, the award Rock was there to hand out was for best documentary, yet somehow he forgot that A) he once made a documentary himself, and B) said documentary was specifically about how people shouldn't do the thing he was about to do. Can you imagine if Al Gore showed up to present a Best Documentary award and, like, threw a cheeseburger wrapper on the floor? Alopecia "disproportionately affects Black women," and Good Hair even features an interview with designer Sheila Bridges, who has alopecia.
When asked about this in 2009, Rock stated: "We put her in the movie to show you can be beautiful even without hair, and your beauty really does come from within." So to have Chris Rock go from the filmmaker who said this to the comic making hack G.I. Jane-based roast jokes is especially disappointing and, obviously, for some, completely infuriating.
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Top Image: HBO Films, Warner Bros. Pictures