Have the Oscars lost their way?
Even aside from a moment of unscripted violence, the 94th Academy Awards were a mess
Remember when the most embarrassing Oscars mishap involved Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announcing “La La Land” rather than “Moonlight” as the Best Picture in 2017? Ah, what an innocent time that was! On March 27th the 94th Academy Awards fell much deeper into disrepute when Chris Rock was on stage, preparing to hand over the prize for Best Documentary. The comedian made a few jokes, including one about Jada Pinkett Smith’s short hair, a consequence of her alopecia. Incensed, Will Smith, her husband, strode onto the stage and slapped the comedian across the cheek. “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” he shouted at Mr. Rock.
Despite the clash, the show went on. Mr Rock presented the documentary feature prize to a deserving winner, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, for “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”, his joyous chronicle of the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969. Ten minutes after that, Mr Smith himself won Best Actor for his performance in “King Richard”, an authorised biopic of the father of Serena and Venus Williams. He didn’t take the opportunity to apologise to Mr Rock, or to condemn acts of violence. Instead, he declared that “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family”, adding that he was “overwhelmed” by what God was calling him to do. “Love will make you do crazy things,” he concluded. In return for this dangerous, self-serving cant, he was given a standing ovation.