It's almost been a whole year since the slap. Unless you're an alien discovering the internet for the very first time, with this article as your first destination for some baffling reason, you probably don't need us to recount what went down between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony. Even if you missed the live event, you probably saw it online or perhaps caught the Celebrity Deathmatch-esque claymation recreation.
But as big a deal as this was, inspiring Rock's new comedy special and forcing the Academy to assemble a mysterious "crisis team," it wasn't the first time that the comedian encountered an Oscar-based controversy. Rock hosted the 2005 ceremony and got in hot water for critiquing the ceremony in interviews, calling it a "fashion show" and questioning: "What straight Black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one. And they don't recognize comedy, and you don't see a lot of Black people nominated, so why should I watch it?"
A lot of people were pissed off; op-eds were written, and there were rumors that Academy members wanted him replaced as the host. But apart from the low-key homophobia (defended at the time by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation as "poking fun at the Oscars," not "making fun of gays"), Rock made a very good point about the Oscars, bringing up the Academy's lack of diversity, which didn't become a part of the mainstream cultural conversation until more than a decade later, with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
And even once the 2005 ceremony show was underway, Rock still managed to offend people – well, one person specifically. Rock made a joke during his monologue that Jude Law is basically a low-rent version of Tom Cruise, who seems to pop up in every movie.
This seemed to really rankle Sean Penn, who presumably suffered severe damage to the "humor" chip in his CPU sometime in the 1980s, prompting him to randomly interject during a later presentation that Jude Law is "one of our finest actors."
Then again, maybe Penn had a point; Rock's bit may have completely derailed Jude Law's career, dooming him to a life of playing goofy wizards and youthful popes.
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