The Greatest Night in Television 

Jazz Johnson

Senior Staff Writer

By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard about what happened at the Oscars. I don’t think anyone expected that altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock. If you are unaware of the situation, here’s a short recap: Chris Rock made a GI Jane joke about Jada Smith (who is balding from alopecia). After seeing his wife annoyed, Will goes up on stage and proceeds to slap Chris. This all came out of left field and shocked the audience. 

The internet has been going crazy, and everyone has opinions about who is right and wrong. I personally sit somewhere in the middle. Here’s why:

Jada Smith has publicly announced that she has alopecia multiple times. It’s quite unlikely that Chris didn’t know, even though he claims to have been unaware. Chris has also made a documentary about Black women’s hair, “Good Hair,” in response to his daughter’s feelings toward her own hair. The documentary explores the importance of hair in Black culture. I think that’s why it could’ve seemed very odd on his part.

As for Will, he was seen laughing when Chris made the joke but got angry after seeing his wife’s reaction. You can argue that it was more of a “is he serious?” laugh, but some people think he genuinely thought it was funny. Either way, was slapping Chris necessary? Could they have handled it outside of the show? As many times as Jada has embarrassed Will, does Will’s reaction make him look stupid? 

Black women’s hair is a crucial part of our identity. I can’t speak for every Black woman, but there are a lot of feelings and emotions tied to our hair. It’s a part of our culture, and we have spent years learning to love it. We have been looked down on for so long because of our kinky, curly textures. Society is just now starting to begin to accept our hair. Our hair is sacred. 

While analyzing the situation, I began to think deeper. 

If it had been a white comedian on stage, would Will have reacted the same? Would he have been escorted out if he did? What repercussions should he face? Should his award be revoked? 

Why did Chris feel comfortable calling Jada out? Could he have made a different joke about hair that was more generalized? Would he have been comfortable making a joke about a white woman? 

Where do comedians draw the line? Should Black women’s hair be off-limits? 

Any small change would have altered the outcome of the situation. The situation isn’t just black and white. There is a lot of gray area, as you can tell. There were faults on both sides. Nonetheless, it was exciting, to say the least. If the Oscars needed better ratings, they accomplished that. I guess we will have to wait and see how everything continues to unfold.

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