The most frenzied discussion over the 94th Academy Awards has less to do with the films and more to do with Will Smith hitting Chris Rock in the face after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. Both men have received backlash, but Smith especially so, and he has finally issued an apology to Rock.
Smith vaguely apologized in his speech when he won Best Actor, but didn’t address Rock directly. In a March 28 Instagram post, Smith finally wrote, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”
Smith explained that his wife, Jada, has the hair loss disease alopecia, and when Rock made a joke about her shaved head, it caused him to act out. Smith also apologized to the Academy, Oscar viewers and attendees, and the cast and crew of his film “King Richard,” saying he is “still a work in progress.”
Chris Rock says he won’t press charges against Will Smith, but public opinion is divided. Twitter user @ChairmanMaouth wrote, “Respect for Smith for his apology, and respect to Rock for not pursuing charges,” while @LeakeMaggie says Rock should also apologize for his joke about Jada.
Meanwhile, @gr8whitecanada wrote, “This would feel more genuine if [Smith] left the show right after [the slap] happened,” while @doc4zz — and many others — feel that the apology came too late. Though online discourse won’t quiet for a while, Smith apologizing to Rock is a step in the right direction.