The following letter was sent to media today April 8th, 2022 by the Academy. We have published it here for readers of The Hollywood Sentinel in its entirety.
The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.
During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.
Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation. The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.
We want to express our deep gratitude to Mr. Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their poise and grace during our telecast.
This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.
The Hollywood Sentinel states, “While this is a good step, more needs done. The New York Times states that Will Smith will still be able to be nominated during this time of his ban.”
Assault; Definition: “An assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in criminal prosecution, civil liability, or both.” (source: Wikipedia)
“Shortly after rising to power in 1933, Adolf Hitler created the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (RMVP), headed by Joseph Goebbels. Nearly all aspects of German culture were subject to the Propaganda Ministry’s control, including films, theater, music, the press, and radio broadcasts. Given tremendous leeway by Hitler, and utilizing modern techniques and technologies, Goebbels quickly set out an ambitious agenda to indoctrinate the German people in Nazi ideology and to influence the behavior of the entire society.” (source: “United States Holocaust Memorial Museum”)
During WWII, The United States government also used propaganda to seek to influence American’s beliefs and emotions. As noted in The U.S. “National Archives,” “The Government launched an aggressive propaganda campaign with clearly articulated goals and strategies to galvanize public support, and it recruited some of the nation’s foremost intellectuals, artists, and filmmakers to wage the war on that front.”
According to Wikipedia, “Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to influence or persuade an audience to further an agenda.”
By these examples among more therefore , the importance of Hollywood as an industry of global mass communication which can shape and influence hearts, minds, and culture to do good or evil should not be taken lightly. Hollywood, as an institution of mass communication that influences hearts and minds around the world, is a powerful force that can be used to move people to peace–or war.
Will Smith’s shocking outburst of violence, anger, and dropping the F-bomb as he rushed the stage and hitting Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife last night, became the shows most talked about moment of The Oscars and many news cycles. As an opinion leader and influencer around the world, Will Smith obviously failed in a big way for not only failing to regulate his emotions, but for resorting to physical violence.
This reminds us of years back when Will Smith smacked a reporter who tried forcibly kissing him. In that case, that male reporter arguably deserved what he got, as he engaged in unwanted physical aggression.
Jessica Chastain, who won for Actress in a Leading Role spoke of cruelty and bigotry and how no one wants to live in “fear of violence.” Ironically, Chris Rock brought the cruelty, and Will Smith brought that violence to the show itself. Further ironic, is that black on black violence is one of the leading causes of death in the black community–greater than police brutality.
No matter how mean and nasty one’s words are about us, we must not react back with physical violence. Adults–including men, are supposed to be above such things.
Insulting a woman’s hair loss due to a medical condition–arguably a disability when one’s job entails beauty–is not only without class, it is verbally abusive, and wrong. Will Smith had every right to be angry. But his big mistake was in how he chose to express that anger.
And really, do we really want to live in a world that “cancels” any joke that hurts someone’s feelings? What kind of institution or society will cancel an offensive post or comment, but not cancel violence?
Will Smith soon immediately thereafter became self-aware of his major error, and lets face it–act of criminal assault–and apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees.
We have question, why was Will Smith even allowed to run back up on stage? Where was security? I’ve been to rock concerts where idiotic fans tried “bum-rushing” the stage as it was called. What happened to them? They would either get literally thrown off the stage, or shoved and blocked from entering. At other times, they would be grabbed by the collar and thrown out the doors, never to re-enter. At other concerts, 12 or 15 foot high chain link fences were erected to block fans.
Do the Oscars need to erect chain link fences to block certain stars from bum-rushing the stage and assaulting comedians that hurt their feelings? How about just better security, that is instructed and allowed to do their job?
I brought up to someone the idea that the whole thing could have been a publicity stunt. I was assured that it was not. If only it could have been. It would have been better than where we are today. It’s time now to send a message, and a very strong one, that violence is not OK. Survivors of abuse are watching. The world is watching. In the words of Spike, just Do The Right Thing.
Also since the time of this article first drafted on the older version of this site, the Academy issued their letter noting the ban, above. And since the publication of this above commentary, Will Smith has posted a thoughtful, rational public apology to Chris Rock, to his fans, and to the world. As a result, this commentary has been edited. This is a good first step in the right direction.
The next thing Will Smith should do is to find out how he can make up the damage he has caused, and then do it. One idea would be to be undergo the creation of Public Service Announcements on Peace over Violence, on Emotional Regulation, and on Anger Management. The Academy could help and be a part of this. These works should get as much and greater attention than his unfortunate actions created.
Good can come out of this. The entire life of one man should not be judged by the actions of one of his mistakes. The first step is to ask for forgiveness. Will Smith has done that. Now it’s time to make up the damage he has done. And based on my feelings of Will Smith–I am confident he will.
©2022, Hollywood Sentinel