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Despite some cause for local celebration, the onstage altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock is dominating the conversation surrounding the 2022 Oscars everywhere, including in Quebec.
The confrontation came after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness at the Best Documentary Awards, saying he was looking forward to ‘GI Jane 2’. (Pinkett Smith was open about her experience with alopecia.)
Will Smith then climbed the steps to the stage and appeared to punch Chris Rock in the face. Broadcasters muted Smith as he returned to his seat and yelled at Rock, but unedited clips circulating on social media show the Best Actor winner telling the presenter to ‘keep my wife’s name out. out of your fucking mouth!”
Now conversations are swirling about the incident, its aftermath, and race and gender repercussions both of the act itself and of its commentary.
Locally, the moment sparked confusion, empathy and criticism on social media, including, as Narcity Quebec ReportsQuebec celebrities, journalists and television personalities.
Comedian Mike Ward asked, “How can you win an Oscar and end your career on the same night?”
“The Oscars, what a success!” actress Louise Latraverse wrote in pun.
Many, including host and author Genevieve Pettersen, criticized Smith’s actions as an example of toxic masculinity.
“So one guy punches another guy in the face on full TV because he made fun of his wife aka his thing and then boom boom boom, the honor of the man’s possession must be preserved” , wrote Pettersen.
“Get out of the Middle Ages”, writes Léa Stréliskyiv.
Others, however, pointed to Rock’s comment as an example of misogyny targeting black women.
In an interview with Radio-Canada All one morning Monday morning, columnist Émilie Nicolas worried about the problematic messages that the violent act could have sent to viewers, especially men.
Nicolas called the incident “complex” and said she expected it to become the subject of podcasts and articles trying to unpack the nuanced cultural and social elements at play.
Many social media users seemed mostly stunned.