By Category Chris Rock
It was the slap heard round the world.
In the months since Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, the moment has been endlessly discussed, dissected, and debated.
It’s inspired just about every take imaginable, as everyone from A-list celebs to your Aunt Gladys weighed in.
But through it all, the two principle players remained curiously quiet.
Rock has briefly alluded to the incident in his stand-up set, and Smith briefly mentioned the attack after he won his first Oscar moments later.
But neither star has offered a detailed account of the emotions and the aftermath of the incident until now.
In a six-minute video posted to his Instagram and YouTube accounts on Friday, Smith spoke about the slap on camera for the first time.
Smith answered questions from fans regarding his actions and the joke Rock made about Jada’s appearance that led to the slap.
But appropriately, most of Will’s video was devoted to issuing apologies to those who were hurt by his actions.
“Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work…,” reads a statement that appears on screen at the start of the video.
“You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”
Smith started off with a question about why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech.
The actor replied that he was “fogged out by that point,” but has since attempted to apologize to Chris, to no avail.
“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out,” Smith explained.
“So I will say to you Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you are ready to talk.”
Smith went on to apologize to Chris’ mother, as well as to his brother, Tony Rock, who starred in the 2007 sitcom All of Us, which was created by Will and Jada.
“We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man and this is probably irreparable,” Smith said.
He added that he’s “spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuance and the complexities of what happened in that moment.”
“I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” Smith said.
“There’s no part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
“Disappointing people is my central trauma,” the actor continued. “I hate when I let people down so it hurts.”
Smith denied that he was instructed by Jada to take action following Rock’s joke, insisting that his response was a purely emotional one.
“I’m human,” he said.
“And, I made a mistake, and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s–t. So, I would say to those people, I know it was confusing,” Smith went on.
“I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world, and you know if you hang on I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
There’s still a good deal of disagreement over Smith’s actions that night.
Many believe what he did was unforgivable, and that words should never be met with violence.
Many have pointed out that Rock is a comedian who was poking fun at celebrities, the same way he has throughout his entire career.
Those people undeniably have a point, but since Chris was not entirely blameless in all of this — his joke about Jada’s appearance certainly crossed some lines — so it must be said that Smith’s behavior was not entirely inexplicable.
Hopefully, Rock can soon bring himself to accept Smith’s apology — if only so that we can all finally move on from this and talk about something else!
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