Photo: Kirill Bichutsky/Netflix
On Saturday, Chris Rock’s highly publicized stand-up special aired live on Netflix with a significant amount of backlash. On the show, which is now available to watch on the platform in edited form, he spoke about abortion, gender dynamics, his children, Meghan Markle, and, of course, being slapped on stage at last year’s Oscars.
The show has drawn criticism for being laced with misogynoirism, between Rock’s accusation that Markle “complained” about becoming a royal and his joke that the royal family’s concern over the skin color of her child was not racist but just an interracial drama. “Some of that shit she went through wasn’t racism — it was just in-law shit,” he said, claiming that “even black people want to know how much the baby going to be brown.” He did, however, acknowledge that the Windsors are the “OGs of racism.”
Others took issue with Rock’s flip jokes about abortion, which he repeatedly compared to killing children. “I believe women should have the right to kill babies,” he said. “But let’s not twist it: it’s killing a baby. Every time I pay for an abortion, I’m asking for a dead baby. Even though he claimed to be pro-choice through his “unconditional” love for his daughters and their reproductive rights, dangerously reiterating mainstream pro-life rhetoric didn’t help his case much.
In the last ten minutes of the show, Rock aired what looks like a lot of lingering resentment about last year’s Oscars, where, as you may already know, Will Smith slapped him on scene after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness. to manage. Over the past year, as Smith has repeatedly publicly apologized for his behavior and Pinkett Smith has diplomatically stated that she hopes they will reconcile, Rock has worked out her thoughts on the incident in sets – none of which, to our knowledge, understood the expression of remorse at having made a black woman’s hair the butt of his joke.
First, Rock slammed Smith and Pinkett Smith for going public with the messy details of her affair with musician August Alsina, who is 21 years younger than her and is friends with her son, Jaden. “I had no entanglements,” Rock said, seeming to suggest that Smith had taken out his own anger at his wife for cheating on him by slapping Rock at the Oscars six years after the affair. “Everyone in the world called him a bitch,” he said, referring to the fallout from the 2020 interview in which Alsina confirmed he and Pinkett Smith had a relationship. “They called his wife a predator. And who does he hit? Me.”
Rock also claimed that Pinkett Smith started a feud with him in 2016 when she boycotted the Oscars, which Rock hosted, due to the lack of diversity in his nominations (Smith was among many people of color left out after her widely acclaimed lead role in Concussion). Several major Hollywood figures, including the Smiths, Spike Lee and Michael Moore, boycotted the Oscars that year on its largely white list of nominees, and many celebrities publicly called on Rock to step down as host. For some reason, Rock was specifically targeting Pinkett Smith at the time – his opening monologue that year included the joke “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I was not invited!
And he didn’t finish. “Will Smith practices selective outrage,” he said Saturday night, referring to the name of the special. “Years ago his wife said I should quit the Oscars because her man wasn’t nominated for Concussion. And then her husband gives me a fucking concussion. He basically argued that Pinkett Smith criticizing her choice to host in 2016 justified making a joke about her hair last year, adding, “She starts it, I finish it. Nobody picking on that bitch.
Needless to say, Rock’s choice to punch Pinkett Smith again, never acknowledging why his joke about his alopecia might have seemed insensitive in the first place, was not well received. Eight months ago, she called Rock a “smart and capable” man who she hoped would work things out with her husband. Last weekend, he called her a bitch.