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Will Smith Has A Simple Response To His Oscars Ban

Will Smith has been in hot water ever since the night of the 94th annual Academy Awards. The actor made headlines around the world both during and after the event's March 27 broadcast because of his decision to walk onto the Oscars' main stage and smack Chris Rock in response to a quip made by the comedian about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. In the aftermath of the slap, Smith did not leave the event and actually won his first Oscar mere minutes later for his performance in "King Richard." The following day, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opened a formal review into Smith's behavior, while Smith himself issued a public apology to Rock, calling his actions "inexcusable."

A few days later, on April 1, Smith took the drastic step of resigning from the Academy and pledged to accept any further consequences that the organization might have for him. While the Academy accepted his resignation, its president, David Rubin, noted that disciplinary proceedings against the "King Richard" star were still being conducted and that the results of them would be determined when the Academy's board of governors next convened.

Now, several weeks after the actual Oscars broadcast, the headline-dominating story seems to have reached some kind of conclusion. On Friday, the Academy announced that it has decided to ban Smith from the Oscars and other Academy-run events for the next 10 years. In a letter to its members (via Deadline), the Academy's leadership announced its decision and referred to Smith's behavior at the awards ceremony as "unacceptable and harmful." 

For his part, Smith didn't let too much time pass before releasing a brief response to the Academy's ruling.

Will Smith accepts the Academy's decision

On the same day that the Academy announced its decision to ban him from the Oscars for the next 10 years, Will Smith gave a short but clear statement about the ruling, telling Page Six, "I accept and respect the Academy's decision."

Following Friday's all-hands virtual meeting, which was held 10 days earlier than planned, the Academy's board of governors issued its decision in a joint statement given by Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson. In the statement, Hudson and Rubin note, "This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith's behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy." The Academy's leadership also express gratitude in their statement to Chris Rock for maintaining his "composure under extraordinary circumstances" and apologized for the organization's lack of action on the night of the ceremony.

His Oscars ban means that, among other things, Smith will not be allowed to present the award for best actress at the 2023 Oscars ceremony. That honor is traditionally given at every Oscars broadcast to the previous year's best actor winner. The shocking penalty also comes a week after Smith willingly tendered his resignation from the Academy.

Unsurprisingly, the Academy's decision has sparked numerous conversations on social media, much like Smith's choice to slap Chris Rock did in the days following the Oscars broadcast.

The Academy's decision has proven to be controversial

The opinions surrounding Will Smith's decision to slap Chris Rock at the Oscars, as well as the Academy's handling of the situation over the past few weeks, continue to be varied. That remains true in the wake of the Academy's decision to ban Will Smith from all of its events for the next decade. 

While there are undoubtedly some people who are happy with the Academy's decision to punish Smith for his behavior, there are also others who have taken issue with the severity of the punishment itself. For instance, on Twitter, @lauren_wilford wrote, "Will Smith['s] ten year oscar ban seems dramatic," while @KevCoke6 tweeted, "I really feel like people have been waiting to catch Will Smith slipping for YEARS and now is their chance to crush him. A decade long ban is nuts." Many other users were also quick to call out the Academy for deciding to ban Smith but not the several other previous Oscar winners and current Academy members who have behaved notoriously badly in the past (via the Los Angeles Times).

All of this is to say that it looks like the discussion surrounding this controversy is going to continue to remain divisive in the coming weeks, months, and years. Unfortunately, that also probably means that the discussion itself will continue to overshadow the several historic wins and achievements that were honored at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Notably, while he has been banned from attending any Academy event for the next 10 years, Smith will still be eligible to be nominated and win Oscars for any film performances he gives moving forward.