Reviews | Four opinion writers: Why Will Smith’s slap caused an uproar
But deep down, I think what Charles is saying is that violence is not the answer. See, that’s the problem. It happened, and Will had, I don’t know, 20 minutes between when he hit the guy and when he gave his acceptance speech, so I don’t want to accept the acceptance speech as if it were his thoughtful remarks. But when you start falling back on tropes like “love makes you do crazy things,” then I think that’s a dangerous way to think about what it means to be a man who loves his wife.
Lulu Garcia Navarro: Roxane, we seem to be having a discussion about masculinity and how it displays. I also think about what Jada may or may not have thought and where the kind of female role is in what happened, in your opinion.
Roxanne Gay: Well, I mean, women aren’t a monolith, and I’ve seen a range of responses from women before. On the one hand, women can defend themselves. So when, during his acceptance speech, Will Smith was talking about, I protected Aunjanue Ellis, I protected the other actors, etc., I appreciated the commentary.
Looking at it in the most charitable way, I enjoyed the commentary. On the other hand, I thought, who asked for his protection? His comments – I think he was in the moment, and he knew he had made a big mistake, and he was deep in his feelings, so I take it in that context. But “love makes you do crazy things” is something that men have always used to justify violence, especially towards women.
So I think it was a lot of things, really, and I think on closer inspection and expecting there to be a simple explanation, it’s just not going to happen. There’s, like, what happened in the moment on a personal level, and then there’s the repercussions, and then, of course, there’s all the things that may have influenced both what happened. happened and the consequences. I’m a Libra, and so I just save room for all of that, but I think – ask three women, ask three feminists, and you’ll get different answers.
Lulu Garcia Navarro: Yeah. A lot of people are asking for some kind of punishment. Chris Rock declined to press charges. But should there have been something that should have happened at the time? Because some people say he had no repercussions because he’s a rich celebrity, and others say, he’s a black man, and why are people trying to criminalize his behavior? This is very well seen through a variety of lenses, as you say, Roxane, race and class being the two main ones.
Roxanne Gay: Certainly. I think we can’t ignore the fact that these are actually two very rich men – very powerful men, very visible men. And it was because he was Will Smith that he was allowed to stay. I think there are problems with that, because he says the Academy condones violence, but they’ve said that before, giving Oscars to Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Sean Penn. So I’m not – again, I’m taking a stand, but let’s not pretend that last night was the first time this happened.