Was Chris Rock’s joke really enough to justify violence?


Photo Credit: photo via wikicommons under creative commons license

Totaling 16.6 million viewers for this year’s Oscars, viewer rates have gone up 58% since last year. Comedian Chris Rock’s started to fame began in the early 90’s as a cast member of Saturday Night Live.

By: Sarah Quiceno, Reporter

The slap that made front-page media news lines everywhere is a controversial event that occurred during the 2022 Oscars on March 27th.  Comedian Chris Rock was presenting during the Oscars when he made a joke toward actress Jada Pinkett Smith, actor Will Smith‘s wife. The joke, which proved to come off very offensive, brings up the question of is a joke really enough to justify violence?


The joke, comparing  Mrs. Smith and her illness to G.I. Jane who had a buzz cut, proved to not be funny to many parties. Mrs. Pinkett Smith, who didn’t seem happy after hearing the joke that hinted at her illness, that she opened up about back in 2018, also didn’t settle well with her husband.

Her illness, called alopecia, is an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles and results in extreme hair loss. The illness can affect hair on the scalp along with hair all over the body. The results of alopecia occur extremely suddenly and are mostly common in men, making Mrs. Smith’s case slightly more rare.

Did the joke go too far?

Though Rock’s intention with the joke is unclear, he has come out and publicly apologized to the Smiths.  Mr. Smith has also come out and apologized to Rock via Instagram shortly after the Oscars. Something as hard for females as losing their hair isn’t something most people would find a good topic for a joke. It’s clear that many can agree with this statement.

Many celebrities have even publicly criticized the event including Judd Apatow, Rob Reiner, and Mia Farrow who referred to the incident as, “Oscar’s ugliest moment,” and, “pure narcissism,” on Mr. Smith’s part.

Mrs. Smith’s illness, that can lead to many psychological consequences such as anxiety and depression, isn’t an appropriate punchline for a televised award ceremony.  Nevertheless, the joke really doesn’t justify the violent reaction of Mr. Smith and he will receive fitting punishments.


Mr. Smith has received backlash from celebrities, and the consequences of his actions during the ceremony have only grown. He has officially been banned from the Academy ceremonies, including the Oscars, for 10 years. While he is banned from attending these events, he can still be nominated and win awards at these respected ceremonies. The banning of Mr. Smith from the Academy may seem like a harsh response to some, but to keep the organization’s professionalism and respect intact, it’s the only reasonable punishment. If the Academy had not responded in this way, many could argue that they’re dismissing the physical assault of another individual on national television.

Not only has this slap given Smith a bad look, but has also stained his family’s name. Mr. Smith’s upcoming films include “Emancipation” and a remake of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” are all at stake as of right now. The continuation of his roles in these films is ultimately up to the producers and Mr. Smith with how he plans to address this controversy.