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  • Rachel Finch

The slap heard around the world

The 94th Academy Awards will continue to be discussed for a long time. Not for the extravagant outfits, the award-winning actors and actresses, or historic wins, but for the slap seen and heard around the world.

Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock as he was hosting the show in front of a live in-person and international audience. The slap took course after Rock made a G.I. Jane joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s haircut. This resort to violence is wrong, and Smith should face the consequences as they come.

After the slap Smith yelled repeatedly at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth.” Smith blamed the attack on the insensitive joke from Rock, since his wife suffers from alopecia, a hair loss disorder. Smith related his actions to his feelings of “needing to protect people” and that “love makes you do crazy things.”

According to TMZ, Rock was unaware that Pinkett Smith has alopecia, so his comment was meant to be a joke and not a personal attack. Smith took his actions too far and if he had something to discuss with Rock it should have been done in private.

Only 40 minutes later, Smith accepted the award for best actor and apologized to the Academy for his actions in his acceptance speech. The following day Smith put out a post on Instagram to formally apologize to Rock, but he has yet to speak with Smith about the incident.

Smith and his team need to make a plan for how to tackle this problem head on and be prepared for any contingencies. He should take every media invitation he can get and answer the difficult questions. Smith needs to be transparent about how he was feeling during that moment and admit his actions were inappropriate.

Smith announced in a statement on April 1 that he has resigned as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and he is open to further consequences from the board. The Academy board will convene soon to determine further disciplinary action. Their decision could result in suspension or expulsion, along with other possible sanctions.

Expulsion from the Academy would mean a revocation of voting rights for the Oscars and any other privileges that a membership affords, although it doesn’t bar the individual from being nominated in the future. Smith needs to be held accountable for his actions, and his resignation from the Academy should not affect the board’s decision.

The Academy is not the only group Smith is facing consequences from. Netflix and Sony have halted upcoming movie projects starring Smith. Smith was due to star in an upcoming Netflix movie, "Fast and Loose," but the project has been set aside. Sony also paused the production of “Bad Boys 4,” where Smith stars as one of the leads.

Apple’s “Emancipation,” in which Smith plays a runaway slave, is another film that was scheduled to debut before the end of the year. Some believe that Apple’s decision to push it back or not will provide a clear sense of whether or not television and film production companies want to be in the marketplace with Smith in the near future.

I believe Smith would benefit greatly by seeking counseling to solve any violence or anger issues he may have. Public awareness that Smith is getting help would be a step in rebuilding his public appearance. A special sit down with media to discuss his actions, feelings and remorse would humanize him. Jada Pinkett Smith’s show Red Table Talk would be a great place for Smith to make amends with Rock and clear the air.

Since the moment of the slap, it has been a whirlwind of public relations damage control. Smith has put out multiple apologies to try and come back from his actions, but this is just the start of an extensive apology tour.

Rachel is from Spokane, Washington and moved to San Diego almost three years ago to attend San Diego State University. She is a fourth-year student pursuing a bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. She looks to work in the motocross industry after graduating.

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