Last Sunday night, the world witnessed a black man being assaulted at the Academy Awards.
He was assaulted by another black man. Hopelessly complicating matters is the fact that the assailant was Will Smith, widely regarded as one of the most wholesomely antiseptic black celebrities on Earth.
In the late 1980s, when Smith, performing as part of duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, won the first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Performance in honor of their almost toothache-inducingly corny song “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” there was an unspoken cultural consensus that when it came to blacks and whites, there were very fine people on both sides.
It was generally accepted that there were good old regular white people, and then there was white trash.
It was also taken for granted that there were good old down-home grinnin’ colored folk, and then there were those who acted like . . . you know . . . niggers.
With the advent of progress, we’ve experienced a tectonic shift: All white people are now bad, and all black people are beyond reproach.
If you look up “bland Negro” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Will Smith. He was “one of the nice ones.” He would never rape your daughter or microwave your puppy or knock out your arthritic grandfather to impress his homies.
I am here to boast that I have never willfully exposed myself to any of his music or films. His only discernible talent to me is convincing white Americans that he won’t rape their daughters. He has been able to trade that, along with a vague amiability, to become the only actor in Hollywood history to have eight consecutive films rake in more than $100 million at the box office. The combined receipts for his films as of 2021 is nearly $10 billion. Despite the fact that we keep hearing that Hollywood and the Oscars are too white, in 2021 only one actor received a higher salary for a single film role than Will Smith did: the musclebound black/Samoan hybrid Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who edged out Smith $42 million to $40 million.
In 2016, Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, boycotted the Oscars when she leapt onto the #OscarsSoWhite bandwagon. Because Hollywood is too white — not disproportionately black and definitely not too Jewish — the Academy Awards were hosted that year by black comedian Chris Rock, who joked in his opening monologue that Smith’s wife was “boycotting” an event to which she hadn’t even been invited.
At last Sunday’s Academy Awards — an event which last year couldn’t even attract ten million viewers when 50 million or more would tune in at the event’s peak during the 1990s — Chris Rock delivered another joke at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense: “Jada, I love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”
He was referring to the 1997 film G.I. Jane, in which Demi Moore shaved her head when she became a soldier. Mrs. Smith suffers from alopecia and has recently taken to shaving her head.
You may be unaware of the fact that making fun of bald women is a time-honored tradition in black culture. The subject of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” was described as “bald-head Sally.” Will Smith has made bald jokes and even gay jokes before and leaned on the “c’mon, it’s only a joke” defense when people objected.
Will Smith initially laughed at Chris Rock’s joke until he saw that his wife looked disgusted. Then he hopped up onto the stage, walked up to Chris Rock, slapped him across the face, and then did a pimp stroll back down to his seat.
Chris Rock: Oh, wow! Wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.
Will Smith: Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!
Rock: Wow, dude.
Rock: It was a G.I. Jane joke.
Smith: Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!
Rock: I’m going to, okay? Oh, I could — oh, okay. That was a . . . greatest night in the history of television, okay. Okay.
At the point where Rock said “Oh, I could,” it seemed as if he briefly pondered making even more jokes. Since the Smiths have an open sexual relationship and Mrs. Smith has even bedded one of their gay son’s friends, many have speculated that the joke should have been, “Why don’t you tell other men to keep their dicks out of your wife’s mouth?”
Roughly 40 minutes after smacking Chris Rock, Will Smith — who has fantasized about murdering his alcoholic black father, whose wife boycotted the Oscars for being too white rather than statistically too black or Jewish, and who recently became the first person in Oscars history to assault a black man live and on camera — won the Best Actor Academy Award and took to the stage once more, only this time he didn’t hit anybody.
Smith won the Oscar for his role in the film King Richard, which was based on the life story of Richard Williams, father of black female tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. The film was, but of course, a tale of noble black struggle against all this unending white racism they keep telling us runs rampant and unchecked. I’d known of Richard Williams because in 1997, when his daughter Venus and Romanian tennis player Irina Spirlea bumped into one another, Williams said Spirlea collided with his daughter intentionally and referred to her as a “big, tall, white turkey.” A quarter-century ago when this happened, our nation was so radically different that white tennis promoter Bill Stamps wrote an LA Times article accusing Richard Williams of being the racist in the equation: “His comments not only were unwarranted and in extremely bad taste, they revealed his own racist attitude. . . . Why must every conflict have a racial basis?”
With Oscar in hand and tears streaming down his face, Smith said: “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.”
It’s always the assholes and scoundrels who hide behind God in these moments, innit? Smith continued:
I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, and you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that’s okay . . . Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.
He was given a standing ovation for his speech.
This is not the first time that this seemingly squeaky-clean Negro smacked someone. He slapped a Ukrainian reporter for trying to hug him ten years ago — and in the climate of Sunday night’s Oscars, slapping Ukrainians might as well be a hate crime. British broadcaster Piers Morgan claims that around 2011, he had an “unnerving” tête-à-tête with Smith where he was warned, “Don’t upset my wife. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” In 1989, Smith was arrested for allegedly instructing his bodyguard to beat up record promoter William Hendricks, who suffered six stitches. The charges were later dropped.
In Smith’s autobiography, which was published late last year and shares the same title as G. Gordon Liddy’s autobiography, he claims that he often fantasized about murdering his violent alcoholic father. He says that as a child, he once
watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood. . . . That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am.
I’m reasonably sure we’ve found a new defining moment for Willard Carroll Smith II.
Chris Rock had previously insulted Jada Pinkett Smith in his opening monologue to 2016’s Academy Awards. Jada had boycotted the Oscars as part of the #OscarsSoWhite moral panic. Rock said, “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.” Perhaps this slap was years in the making.
Shortly after slapping Chris Rock, Smith wrote on Instagram that “You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!”
Is that a less anti-black iteration of “You can take the junglebunny out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the junglebunny”?
Smith showed up at the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party at around 1 AM and danced to his 1997 hit song, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” According to Michael Schulman of The New Yorker, “In a Hollywood ending that seemed too dark and surreal to be true, [Smith] appeared to be having the time of his life.”
Will Smith publicly apologized to Chris Rock on Monday, saying that “a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.” He also referred to himself as “a work in progress,” which makes me want to slap him.
In between establishing himself as a rapper and becoming an unreasonably successful and overpaid actor, Smith became a TV star by playing the title role in the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran from 1990-1996 and was a rags-to-riches story about a vulnerable black teen whose family rescued him from the “guys who were up to no good” in his dangerous West Philly hood by relocating him to his wealthy uncle’s Los Angeles mansion. Critics have noted this show’s seminal influence in mainstreaming black culture. Author Willie Tolliver wrote:
What The Fresh Prince did accomplish was to put Smith and his character Will into an environment of affluence and possibility, thus changing the terms of his own Black [sic] identity. This social and cultural mobility is central to Smith’s racial significance, and this will become evident again and again; he moves the image of the Black [sic] male into unaccustomed spaces just as Smith himself was in the process of conquering Hollywood.
I was aware that Smith was from West Philly, and as a cabdriver who worked weekends to put myself through college in that gorgeously hideous town, I know how bad some of those neighborhoods can be. For example, my mother grew up around here.
Alas, Smith is from the middle-class Wynnefield neighborhood in West Philly. So, despite his violent lush of a pappy, he grew up in a less dangerous area than either my aunt or mother did.
The first black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor was Sidney Poitier in 1964 for his role in Lilies of the Field. Here is the moment he was announced the winner. Aren’t you grateful that America is no longer so violent and barbaric and tacky and race-obsessed?
Poitier died this January at the age of 94. To my knowledge, he went to his grave never having raped a white woman, slapped a black man, or microwaved a puppy. Then again, I was too busy earning a living to keep him under constant surveillance.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — the all-time NBA points leader who was born Lew Alcindor, and along with Muhammad Ali was one of the two main superstar black athletes of the 1960s to publicly “go Muslim” as a smack in the face to white America — appears to think that Will Smith figuratively bitch-slapped all of black America:
The Black [sic] community also takes a direct hit from Smith. One of the main talking points from those supporting the systemic racism in America is characterizing Blacks [sic] as more prone to violence and less able to control their emotions. Smith just gave comfort to the enemy by providing them with the perfect optics they were dreaming of.
America tends to worship its black celebrities until they act like you-know-whats.
Bill Cosby epitomized black American wholesomeness until it was revealed that he was a rapist. O. J. Simpson was one of the most beloved American entertainers of any color until that whole murdering-his-white-ex-wife thing.
Even O. J. Simpson has weighed in and declared that what Will Smith did was “wrong.”
Having O. J. Simpson morally condemn you is not a good look.
On the old (and much missed) Southern California Saturday night TV talk show Hot Seat with Wally George, Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance once remarked of the 1989 Virginia Beach Spring Break riots, in which the mayhem was mostly performed by black students, “You get a bunch of them together, and they’re always gonna revert!”
And maybe that was the problem. Maybe there were too many of them together in one place, and Will Smith naturally reverted. #OscarsTooBlack?
But fear not: He will be redeemed. Scheduled for release sometime this year is Emancipation, in which Smith portrays “Gordon,” the escaped black slave who was famously photographed in 1863 with his back covered in keloid scars from extensive whipping.
All will be forgiven — for Will Smith, at least. White people will remain guilty.
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