It’s coming up to a year since the infamous Slap heard around the world—when host Chris Rock was belted by Will Smith on stage after making a joke about his wife’s baldness. In the final 10 minutes of his first comedy special since, the comedian addressed the incident and fans are curious to see how Jada Pinkett responded to Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage on Netflix. It sounds like she wants to put it all behind her, but him? We’re not so sure.
Jada Pinkett Smith hasn’t issued a statement in response to Selective Outrage but sources close to her and her husband say they both want to put the attack behind them. “Jada has had no part in all of this other than being heckled,” an insider told People in an article published on March 6, 2023. “Chris is obsessed with her and that’s been going on for almost 30 years… Look where he chose to film his Netflix special. Her hometown [of Baltimore]. Obsessed.”
Banned from attending future ceremonies for the next decade, Smith has repeatedly apologized for his behavior at the Oscars, which took place on March 27, 2022. First, he shared a statement to Instagram the following day “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. 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. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
Smith continued: I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress.”
The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences banned Smith from future events for the next ten years. In an open letter, the Academy announced, “The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.” The Academy apologized to Rock, the rest of the Academy and the public for the moment: “We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.”
For Jada’s part, she’s expressed her desire for the two men to reconcile. On June 1, 2022, Pinkett Smith shared her thoughts about her husband’s attack on Rock and made mention of her alopecia, which is the medical term for hair loss and can be caused by a wide variety of medical conditions. “Considering what I’ve been through with my own health and what happened at the Oscars, thousands have reached out to me with their stories. I’m using this moment to give our alopecia family an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have this condition and to inform people about what alopecia actually is.” She then directly referred to her husband and Rock, urging them to reconcile. “Now, about Oscar night, my deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile. The state of the world today, we need them both. And we all actually need one other more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring this thing called life together.”
During Selective Outrage, which dropped on Netflix on March 4, 2023, Rock appeared to still harbor resentment for Smith and the attack; titling the special in direct reference to Smith. “Will Smith practices selective outrage,” he said. “Years ago, his wife said I should quit the Oscars ’cause her man didn’t get nominated for Concussion. And then her husband fucking gives me a concussion… She starts it, I finish it. Nobody’s picking on this bitch.” It’s the first time he’s spoken publicly about the incident, having dodged interviews and insisting he’s “no victim”.
“Will is embarrassed and hurt by what Chris said about him and his family in his Netflix special. He didn’t watch it, but he had people tell him what Chris said,” a source told ET in March 2023. “It’s everywhere when you look online and on social media, so Will and Jada have seen comments about it.”
The source added: “Will apologized to Chris and would like for Chris to let it go. Will has worked on himself and he is banned by the Oscars for 10 years. He feels like that’s enough and wants Chris to move on so that he and everyone else can too. Will is also upset that Netflix was a part of this and thinks Chris insulting Jada again is below the belt. He is upset that Netflix gave Chris this platform to share these messages and thinks it’s distasteful.” Though the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor still has a lot to say since he “felt terrible for so long” about smacking Chris at the Oscars. “He’s tried unsuccessfully to make amends in the best way he could with Chris.”
With regards to how the special has been received, sources say Rock isn’t worried about any backlash. “He said what he needed to say and doesn’t give a s— about the reaction either way. He isn’t worried,” an insider told People in a story published March 6, 2023. “People have been waiting for [Rock’s] reaction for a year… For the most part, I think it was well received. People don’t expect sugarcoating from Chris Rock.”
If you need a refresher on what went down at the 94th Academy Awards, here’s what happened. Rock made a comment about Jada being “G.I. Jane,” seemingly in reference to her shaved head. In response, Jada could be seen rolling her eyes. Will initially laughed, but within moments, he could be seen walking up on stage and audience members assuming it was all just part of the act, cheering and laughing before Smith belted Rock across the face.
“Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,” Chris said in disbelief. From afar, Will could be heard yelling: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth,” twice, and from then on, audience members realized it was not scripted but a very real assault. A bewildered Rock looked around seemingly for guidance from the Oscars crew. “OK, that was the greatest night in the history of television.” You can watch the intense and really uncomfortable uncensored broadcast here.
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