Slapping Chris Rock was also a blow to men, women, the entertainment industry, and the Black community.

When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community, writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on substack.

That’s a lot to unpack. Let’s start with the facts: Rock made a reference to Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, as looking like Demi Moore in GI Jane, in which Moore had shaved her head. Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss. Ok, I can see where the Smiths might not have found that joke funny. But Hollywood awards shows are traditionally a venue where much worse things have been said about celebrities as a means of downplaying the fact that it’s basically a gathering of multimillionaires giving each other awards to boost business so they can make even more money.

The Smiths could have reacted by politely laughing along with the joke or by glowering angrily at Rock. Instead, Smith felt the need to get up in front of his industry peers and millions of people around the world, hit another man, then return to his seat to bellow: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Twice.

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