oscars 2022

Chris Rock and Will Smith Were Both Wrong

The 94th Academy Awards ceremony was filled with more drama than the movies it honored. If you missed it, here’s the conflict everyone is talking about:

I can’t imagine why Chris Rock thinks that alopecia is a joking matter.  For many of us (thinning hair has plagued me all of my adult life), hair loss is an ongoing source of pain. Why did Rock feel the need to poke that particular bear?

You can argue comedians’ job is to push boundaries, and I get it. But when boundary pushing gets too personal, then comedians are no longer funny. Mocking someone’s medical condition is bullying behavior. The fact that Rock did this in front of an international audience makes him, in my opinion, more of a jerk than a funny guy.

As Dr. Roxane Gay writes in her New York Times guest column of March 29, 2022, we shouldn’t have to “laugh off everything people want to say and do to us.” We shouldn’t need to have thick skin to function in society. Dr. Gay nails it when she says:  “If our skin gets too thick, we won’t feel anything at all.’

That said, I hope we can laugh at ourselves and at the absurdity that surrounds us. Finding humor during these crazy times may be necessary for our survival.

But here’s an easy way to tell if you’ve crossed the line. If you’ve embarrassed somebody, you’ve made a mistake. And, unless your intention was to cause someone distress, then you made a mistake.

I’m looking for Chris Rock’s public apology. And, frankly, I’d also like to see Will Smith receive actual consequences for his choice to strike the bully.

Bullying is outrageous.

But violence, Mr. Smith, is unacceptable. And, last time I checked, it was also illegal.


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