Talk about a Slap — on the wrist.
After announcing a weeks-long investigation into an unprovoked assault that millions saw in real time — like it’s Watergate! — the Academy finally meted out Will Smith’s punishment: Banned from the Oscars for 10 years.
Say it isn’t so!
This is meant to hurt? Banishment from the longest, most painfully unfunny and irrelevant awards show going? Will Smith can’t present Best Actress next year?
It would all be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.
The Academy gave Will Smith a gift. It’s not like he’s banned from the after-parties. It’s not like he’s banned from making movies or from getting nominated again.
It’s not like he’s had his Oscar stripped.
And that’s the real problem. For all its public handwringing, the Academy was never, ever going to take Will Smith’s Oscar away. Whoopi Goldberg, who sits on the Academy’s Board of Governors, said it plainly and decisively on “The View” the morning after The Slap — it wasn’t going to happen.
Of course it wasn’t. As long as Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski still have their Oscars, who really thought the Academy would rescind Smith’s over a slap?
The Academy already set their bar. They can’t hold Smith to a higher standard than serial rape or drugging and sodomizing a child.
But since Will Smith smacked Chris Rock onstage, on live TV, they had to do something. Call me crazy, but doesn’t it seem like Hollywood’s only interested in doing the right thing if a crowd is watching? It’s an institutional occupational hazard, I guess.
Jim Carrey had it right last week when he called Hollywood spineless. As if to prove his point, celebrity bootlicker Gayle King tried to excuse Smith, insisting that the moment with Rock had “escalated.”
Carrey cut her right off: “It didn’t escalate,” he said. “It came out of nowhere.”
That’s right. We all saw the same thing. This isn’t “Rashomon.”
But King’s feckless feint proves how sick celebrity culture is.
The notion that rich, famous, powerful people will do whatever they please, with zero regard for consequences — because consequences most often never come — is the rule, not the exception.
Will Smith is a monster of Hollywood’s own making. His enormous, diseased ego flourished in their petri dish. He has zero conception of real life, decent behavior, shame. So really, who are they to judge him? Watch Smith’s smirk and his swagger as he leaves the stage after smacking Rock, so proud of himself, so sure that his A-list status meant his peers would celebrate him.
And they did.
My favorite was Trevor Noah, that smug, sanctimonious voice of high-minded progressivism, beaming next to Big Man Will after The Slap.
Square that circle.
As for Smith, he’ll be fine. He’s already issued a humble pie statement of “accept[ing] and respect[ing]” this ruling. He’ll go to rehab, give a tearful sit down to Oprah or Gayle — primetime, of course — peddle his childhood traumas and marital woes in exchange for forgiveness. Time will pass and Smith will become the underdog. His redemption arc will be complete when he presents Best Actress to Shiloh Jolie-Pitt in 2033.
As for the Academy? Not hard to imagine the relief after today’s meeting. After all, at least they’re not the Golden Globes.