Comedian Chris Rock has finally addressed what has been widely dubbed “the slap in the face heard around the world,” nearly a year after actor Will Smith slapped the comedian onstage at the 2022 Oscars.
“I will try to put on a show tonight without offending anyone. I’m going to do my best, because you never know who might be triggered,” Rock said, opening his live show in Baltimore. “People always say words hurt. Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.
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In the new Netflix special, “Selective Outrage,” Rock fired back during his stand-up routine and shared his thoughts on the incident. He said he was “not a victim, baby”.
“You all know what happened to me, getting punched by Suge Smith,” Rock said. “It still hurts. I’ve got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears. But I’m not a victim, baby. You’ll never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying… I took that hit like Pacquiao.
At last year’s Oscars, award-presenting Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. In a tense and shocking onstage altercation, Smith stunned the audience by walking onto the Oscars stage and punching the presenter.
Later that evening, Smith apologized to the Academy and the other nominees in a tear-filled speech after accepting the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, in the “King Richard” biopic, but did not mention or apologize directly to Rock.
After that night, Smith resigned his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the organization behind the Oscars – and the academy banned the actor from any academy events or programs, including the Oscars, for 10 years.
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Smith later addressed the incident directly in a video posted to social media and apologized to Rock. At the time, Smith said he reached out to Rock, who replied that he was “not ready to talk.”
“So I’ll tell you, Chris, I apologize,” Smith said in the video. “My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
In his latest special, Rock appeared to respond to Smith’s apology.
“I love Will Smith, all my life,” Rock said. “I’ve been rooting for Will Smith my whole life…now I’m watching ‘Emancipation’ just to see him get whipped.”
Rock also said people have since asked him, “How come you didn’t do anything (to Smith) that night?”
“Because I have parents,” the comedian said. “Do you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.
The 95th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, March 12, 2023 at the Dolby Theater at Ovation Hollywood and will be broadcast live on ABC, as well as streaming with a subscription to Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV and Fubo TV.