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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Will Smith delivered the punchline

Will Smith delivered the punchline of the year at the 2022 Oscars after comedian Chris Rock makes a comment about his wife’s medical condition. Courtesy of: Creative Commons Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

At the 2022 Oscars, comedian Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical condition before announcing the year’s best male actor to which he was greeted with a slap to the face by the winner.

“Jada, I love ya, GI Jane two, can’t wait to see it,” the comedian said during his introduction, referring to the actress’s shaved head.

After the actress was seen clearly in discomfort, rolling her eyes, her husband Will Smith walked onto the stage and slapped Rock across the face before cussing him out from his seat.

What was so offensive to the couple that Smith felt he had to do such a thing on live television? Well, for one, Pinkett has a medical condition called Alopecia.

What is Alopecia? Alopecia is a disease that develops when the body attacks your hair follicles that can cause hair loss anywhere on the body.

The 50-year-old TV host [Pinkett] has openly discussed her mental and emotional struggles with dealing with such a condition in the past, and there’s no doubt that a fellow celebrity like Rock would have known about it.

The Oscars hosts always crack jokes about the attending celebrities- And you can’t expect a comedian not to make jokes about you when you’re a celebrity since your life is so public [it’s in the fine print].

However, there’s a fine line on what should be considered funny and what shouldn’t- making commentary about someone’s medical condition should not be considered a joke.

Making a comment on someone’s condition knowing they have openly talked about their experience with their condition and have expressed the effects it has taken on their mental and emotional well-being, and expecting them to sit there and laugh is not okay.

The actress has made attempts to shed light on her condition and keep a positive mindset when talking about it while raising awareness on the disease. Fans have also pointed out that Pinkett has made jokes about her condition in the past.

But just because someone with a certain medical condition may joke about their personal experience, it doesn’t make it okay for someone else [who isn’t experiencing it] to crack jokes about it.

Call me Gen Z crazy, but joking about someone else’s disabilities- whether it be mentally, emotionally or physically [and this includes mental health and diseases]- is not funny and shouldn’t be joked about.

How can you call yourself a comedian if your jokes revolve around poking at people’s medical and health-related conditions? It’s not comedy, at this point anymore, it’s straight up disrespect.

If you must make a comment about someone else’s disabilities or conditions, you can just keep it to yourself.

Rock has a history of using the Smith’s lives as material for his content.

There were many other things the comedian could have picked at; He could have made a comment on Pinkett’s past entanglements, the couple’s complex open relationship, etc.

Instead, Rock chose to make a joke about an extremely sensitive subject for the actress to which Smith delivered the punchline.

Many argue that Smith was seen laughing at Rock’s joke and claim that his wife probably said something that prompted him to get physical. Others say that the entire scenario was scripted, but a source close to the situation told Entertainment Weekly that the joke was, in fact, not part of the script at all.

It’s possible that Smith laughed at the joke on first instinct because it was uncomfortable, and after seeing his wife clearly in discomfort and not laughing off the matter he felt prompted to handle the situation.

Rock reportedly told the Los Angeles Police Department that he does not intend to press charges against Smith. Pinkett, since, has chosen to remain silent on the matter.

Two days after the ceremony, Smith posted an apology on Instagram addressing Rock, the Academy and its viewers.

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith wrote. “ 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. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

There were many other ways Smith could have handled the situation and I think it’s clear he knows that; He could have confronted the comedian after the ceremony or published a passive aggressive tweet like any other celebrity would have.

While the situation was unexpected and shocking, it’s important to note that Smith stood up for his wife- if not his wife, then someone who is struggling with a disease and was the target of a joke.

We talk about bullying and harassment in schools and how it needs to stop; We’ve openly discussed the ways bullying is often disguised as jokes. And yet, when a famous comedian makes a joke about someone struggling with a disease, it sparks controversy.

Instead of marginalizing Smith, we need to hold comedians accountable for their comments made about and towards those struggling with special conditions and being the target of our entertainment.

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About the Contributor
Clarissa Arceo, Community Editor
Clarissa Arceo is Community Editor for Talon Marks covering community news, Life, and arts & entertainment. She is a Journalism major transferring to a 4-year university in the Fall. Aside from reporting, Arceo enjoys photographing community events, reading contemporary romance and psychological fiction novels, and taking trips to the beach.  
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Will Smith delivered the punchline