Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How The Academy Is Dealing With Will Smith's Actions At The Oscars

The 94th annual Academy Awards ceremony will undoubtedly go down in history as a memorable moment in Hollywood history, but unfortunately not because of the incredible talent honored at the event. Instead, what immortalized the night in the public consciousness was "King Richard" star Will Smith striking Chris Rock across the face and cursing him out from the audience after the comedian made a reportedly ad-libbed joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair. It was a bewildering moment that immediately drew strong reactions from other celebs in the industry, as well as from the public at large. In another shocking twist, Smith won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in "King Richard" mere minutes after the altercation and sobbed through a six-minute acceptance speech to a stunned and uncomfortable audience in the Dolby Theater.

Though Rock is declining to press charges against Will Smith, their dust-up may have lasting repercussions for Smith nonetheless. Late on Sunday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a statement on Twitter condemning "violence of any form" just after the ceremony had concluded, suggesting the possibility they might take some form of action against the newly-minted Oscar winner. Many vocally called for Smith's Oscar to be revoked, and internally, ABC and Academy representatives discussed removing him from the show. On Monday, however, we finally have some notion of how the Academy is choosing to proceed thanks to a new statement issued regarding the incident.

The Academy is opening a formal review of Will Smith's behavior, with possible consequences

The day after the 2022 Oscars, the Academy released a new statement on the incident, condemning Will Smith's actions at last night's Oscars ceremony and announcing an official review of the incident that may lead to penalties for the star, Deadline reports. The entertainment institution's statement reads, "The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct, and California law." 

What exactly those consequences may entail is not entirely clear, though Deadline notes that potential outcomes may include barring Smith from attending future events, including the 2023 Oscars, or stripping him of his Academy membership. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there was an emergency phone call Monday morning with the Academy's board of governors, but the issue will likely be settled at the next full meeting of the board, as the first such conference following the Oscars usually addresses any issues which took place during the event.

The Academy seems reticent to strip Smith of his best actor Oscar. Citing Chris Rock's refusal to press criminal charges against Smith, Academy Governor Whoopi Goldberg said, "We're not going to take that Oscar from him." Notably, while the Academy's recently implemented code of conduct stipulates that members must not violate "recognized standards of decency," there is no formal procedure for rescinding an award after it has been presented. At the time of this writing, neither Smith nor Rock have issued an official statement about the incident.

The Academy's statement has generated plenty of social media buzz

As the Academy works to determine the best course of action, the social media world has lit up with thoughts on both the given statement and what the next steps should be.

On one side, some believe that Will Smith should not only be held accountable for his actions, but he should face strong punishment as well. "He should lost the Oscar. Nothing justify violence," wrote Twitter user @dinizccarla, and @ChristianGauci believes that "The most public stance that they can take is to ban him from next year's Oscars. No exceptions." @loeysgalaxy614 agreed, stating, "don't take his oscar but a public reprimand and revoke of membership so there's permanent loss of privileges."

On the other hand, more than a few people have taken the time to vocally side with Smith as the Academy continues to assess the situation. @Ebizzill didn't hide their support in a tweet that read, "y'all leave this man alone, he was defending his wife." @NorthEastOracle agreed in a post of their own, adding, "Nobody was there for a roast. He shouldn't have gone after Jada." Raising a similar point, @JoTink78 posted, "Smith was wrong to hit him, but he was also wrong to say what he did. It wasn't funny at all," putting some of the blame at Chris Rock's feet.

Regardless of where you may stand on it, the Will Smith-Chris Rock ordeal has become nothing if not messy. All we can do is wait and see how the Academy chooses to follow up in the wake of this polarizing incident.