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Movies like “Raging Bull,” “Rocky” and “On the Waterfront” have won Academy Awards in the past, but actor Will Smith brought real-life pugilism to this year’s Oscars ceremonies. He punched and yelled at comedian Chris Rock after Rock made a comment about his wife – Jada Pinkett Smith – during the lead-up to an award presentation.

Smith subsequently said: “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.” But that was after Janet Hubert – his former TV aunt from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” – wrote on Instagram: “So PROUD OF YOU!… sometimes you have to slap back.” And Representative Ayanna Pressley said in a since-deleted tweet: “Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance and insults.”

Rock’s joke referenced Pinkett Smith’s lack of hair, which is caused by alopecia.

Members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network voiced varying viewpoints on the Smith-Rock rumble. While there was support for both sides in the scuffle, they largely agreed the fisticuffs was misplaced.

Emery McClendon

Project 21 member Emery McClendon said Rock “deserves a pat on the back” for his restraint. He thought Smith showed “childish behavior” by “rising up and walking up to the stage to slap Rock.” Emery called that “a gross display of out-of-control anger under the guise of chivalry.”

“Smith topped it off,” Emery noted, “by returning to his seat and yelling out a statement at Rock using the ‘F’ word – not once, but twice. That’s evidence he knew what he was doing and was aware of where he was when he said it.”

He added:

The man clearly has some serious behavior problems, which he attempted to cover up by using the opportunity to look like he was protecting his wife.

There is no excuse for this type of violent behavior – especially on worldwide TV.  Once again, we see the debauchery and insane evidence of Hollywood on display. Chris Rock showed fortitude and restraint. He laughed it off, and then tried to minimize the situation with another joke. If Smith had slapped the average gangster rapper, he might have been severely beaten or killed on live TV.

“They are supposed to be role models,” Emery said, “not people who act like crazy out-of-control imbeciles.”

Melanie Collette

On Newsmax, during a segment of “American Agenda,” Project 21 member Melanie Collette called the Oscars “super uncomfortable” and “completely ridiculous.” As for how Smith seems to have gotten off without punishment for the assault, Melanie remarked: “You wanna talk about privilege? Anyone else would have been arrested immediately.”

Melanie suggested an alternative to turning it into a legal matter:

What would do more good is if Chris Rock made some sort of deal with Will Smith where [Smith] had to donate to some type of anti-violence charity… [for] not pressing charges.

Melanie added, however, that her male friends told her they stood with Smith on the grounds that Rock disrespected Smith’s wife. “They all co-signed” with Smith, she said.

This feeling was echoed by Project 21 member Christopher Arps. He said the confrontation gave him a fresh perspective on Smith:

I haven’t watched the Oscars, the Grammys or any awards show since the late 80s. I always thought Will Smith’s music was crap and that “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” was nothing more than a modern-day minstrel show. I’ve only liked a few of his movies, but they did show me he had some depth. That made Smith somewhat tolerable to me.

After the Oscar slapping incident with Chris Rock, I have a newfound respect for Smith. Rock went too far. If somebody would have hurt and embarrassed my wife like that on national TV, I would have done the exact same thing!

Smith didn’t go on stage to beat him up, he slapped the taste out of his mouth and then politely went back to his seat.

David L. Lowery, Jr.

But Project 21 member David L. Lowery, Jr., was more skeptical. He thought Smith overreacted. “Chris Rock is a comedian, and comedians make their living by making jokes about people,” David commented. “Will Smith disgraced not only himself and his family, but the black community.”

Suggesting a better way to have dealt with Rock, David said:

The proper way to handle it would have been to speak to Rock after the show and for Smith to explain his wife’s condition. That’s how grown men would handle that! I recommend that the Oscars take back Smith’s Best Actor trophy, and that the public boycott Will Smith movies and music until Chris Rock is made whole. This is a prime example of what the liberal lifestyle is bringing to America today – no family values!

Horace Cooper

In a discussion on the Fox News Channel program “The Ingraham Angle,” Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper had his own suggestion about how all people should act in such situations:

Do you know the most adult and responsible thing that could have happened last night [at the Oscars]?

That would have been if Will Smith heard this joke or this comment and he found it offensive, he and his wife could have immediately stood up and walked out of the assembly. When they called his name to announce he had actually won an Oscar and he wasn’t there, someone would have to explain that offensive joke created this problem.

That’s the way a mature adult behaves.

Project 21 member Vince Ellison was on that same Fox News panel with Horace. Condemning all involved, he said:

These people are the people who try to tell us how to be tolerant. They tell us how to be nice to one another. They want to lecture America all the time about our shortcomings – but then you see this.

They’re hypocrites! They’ve always been hypocrites. They always will be hypocrites.

“And we have to pray for them,” Vince added. “Hopefully, they will be better.”


Author: David Almasi