On Saturday, Chris Rock did not hold back when addressing Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The comedian referred to Pinkett-Smith as a “b*tch” and called Smith’s actions at last year’s Oscars “some b*tch a** sh*t.”
“Will Smith practices selective outrage,” comedian Chris Rock said in the closing moments of his latest Netflix comedy special.
Nearly one year ago today, comedian Chris Rock stood on stage at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California and attempted to present an award at the 94th Academy Awards. Before he presented the next award, the comedian made a number of jokes about stars sitting in the audience, including Jada Pinkett-Smith.
“Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2.” Rock said as Pinkett-Smith sat in the audience with a portion of her hair shaved off.
A portion of Pinkett-Smith’s hair had been lost due to her battle with alopecia, a medical condition that can cause hair loss.
“It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands, and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, am I going bald?'” Pinkett-Smith said about her condition during an episode of Red Table Talk.
“It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking in fear. That’s why I cut my hair and why I continue to cut it.”
Ultimately, Rock’s joke about Pinkett-Smith’s hair drew a response from actor Will Smith. After the comment was made, Smith walked on stage, slapped Rock and walked off.
“Will Smith just slapped the sh*t out of me,” Rock told the audience.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f*ckin’ mouth,” Smith shouted after returning to his seat.
“Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock countered.
The slap drew support from some, serious criticism from others and jokes on social media from all. As the ceremony continued, Smith won the “Best Actor” category for his role in King Richard. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to ban Smith from the Academy Awards for 10 years after reviewing the matter further.
Months later, Smith popped back up on the scene to promote his new movie, Emancipation, and announced the start of Bad Boys IV. As he returned to the public eye, he sat down to address the matter head-on.
“I was fogged out by that point. It is all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that, he’s not ready to talk. When he is, he will reach out. I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I am here whenever you are ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris’s mother,” Smith said.
“I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable.”
After hearing Smith’s initial apology, Rock declined to accept it.
In the months since the incident, Rock has maintained that he did not know of Pinkett-Smith’s condition and did not intentionally make fun of her condition. He has also embarked on a world tour, including shows with Chappelle and Kevin Hart. This weekend, Rock went to Pinkett-Smith’s hometown of Baltimore, Maryland to deliver Netflix’s first-ever live comedy special.
Rock delivered a crowd-pleasing performance in Baltimore on Saturday. The New York native touched on a number of topics, including raising his two daughters and dating as a single Hollywood star. In the end, he dedicated approximately 10 minutes to addressing last year’s Academy Awards. From Rock’s perspective, Smith’s decision to slap him had little to do with the joke he made and more about how he has been criticized in recent years. Specifically, Rock criticized Smith’s decision to discuss his wife’s entanglement with singer August Alsina on an episode of Red Table Talk.
“Will Smith practices selective outrage,” Rock said.
“Everybody knows what the f*ck happened. Everybody that really knows, knows that I had nothing to do with that sh*t. I didn’t have any entanglements. I did not have any entanglements. For people that don’t know, his wife was f*cking her son’s friend. Now, I normally would not talk about this sh*t, but for some reason, these n*ggas put that sh*t on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that f*cking lowdown. What the f*ck? We’ve all been cheated on. Everybody in here has been cheated on. Nobody in here has been interviewed by the person that cheated on us, on television. None of us.”
As the comedian went on, he said that everyone in the world called Smith a “b*tch” after the Smiths spoke about their issues publicly.
“Everybody in the world called him a b*tch,” Rock continued.
“I tried to call the muthaf*cka and give him my condolences. He didn’t pick up for me. Everybody in the world called that man a b*tch. Charlamagne called that man a b*tch and The Breakfast Club called him a b*tch and The View and The Talk. Drink Champs called him a f*cking b*tch. Everybody called him a b*tch. They called his wife a predator. Everybody called him a b*tch. Everybody! Everybody! And who does he hit? Me, a n*gga he knows he can beat. That is some b*tch a** shi*t.”
Rock did not simply address Will Smith. He later addressed Jada Pinkett-Smith. In 2016, the comedian hosted the Academy Awards as the #OscarsSoWhite campaign took off. Led by media strategist and DEI advocate April Reign, stars such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith called on Rock and other Hollywood stars to boycott the Oscars after no people of color were nominated in the top four categories.
“At the Oscars…people of color are always welcomed to give out awards…even entertain,” Pinkett-Smith tweeted in January 2016.
“But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating altogether?”
Her husband, Will Smith, also joined the boycott, but Rock moved forward with his decision to host the event. During his latest Netflix special, the comedian revisited the matter.
“Years ago, his wife said I should quit the Oscars,” Rock said.
“[She said that] I shouldn’t host because her man didn’t get nominated for Emancipation. The biggest piece of sh*t ever. Ok? So, the n*gga gives me a f*cking…a f*cking concussion. No, [it’s] not Emancipation. I f*cked up the joke…Concussion. She f*cking said, ‘He should quit because Will didn’t get nominated for Concussion.’ What the f*ck? So, didn’t I do some jokes about her? Who gives a f*ck? That’s how it is. She starts it. I finish it. Ok? That’s what the f*ck happened. Nobody’s picking on this b*tch. She started this sh*t.”
Rock’s special has garnered generally positive reviews via social media thus far.
“Told y’all Chris Rock was gonna break the internet,” Fanbase Founder Isaac Hayes III tweeted.
“So much love and respect for Chris Rock. He gave a master class tonight. It took him one year to tell his side of the story and boy he did,” another viewer tweeted.
One year removed from the incident, the 95th Academy Awards are set to return to the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California on March 12, 2023.