Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

ended 28. March 2022

Last night at the Oscars Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife's alopecia. We sought the views of psychologists and wellbeing experts.

3 responses from the Newspage community

"While I would never condone violence, this incident has shown that often there is a context to attacks. In my work with individuals with learning disabilities who present behavioural challenges, often the context of their behaviour is poorly understood or ignored. Comments, attitudes and environments can all trigger past traumas, reigniting someone’s memories of a situation where they were extremely afraid and so went into a fight or flight response. It would appear that for Will Smith the comedian’s comments triggered him and he felt he had to take action to defend his wife and himself."
"Showcasing violence when you are in a position of prominence and a role model across the world is never something that we should be celebrating, but there is a clear history of jokes of this nature being aimed at families, which while potentially not intended to offend can be traumatic over time and build up to moments where we are triggered into behaviours that are extreme reactions to continual abuse and invalidation. "With alopecia being a challenge due to society's modern beauty standards, it is no surprise that it will have had an impact on Smith and his family unit. Smith will likely have faced many challenges himself being microaggressed against and to him this will have felt like abuse from someone he considered an ally, on the world stage in front of the industry he works in. "Ultimately this episode shines a light on how stressful and triggering it can be to have your conditions mocked and laughed at in front an audience. While Will's actions will make the headlines, we should take a moment to consider Jada's everyday lived experience and become more aware of how making jokes can be hurtful in our lives."
"At times of stress and pressure we often revert to our earliest learned and witnessed coping strategies. This will look different among individuals depending on their experiences and whether they have been able to process any traumas. We can of course understand people's feelings being hurt and feeling threatened and sad that physical appearance has been brought into play when emotions are already running high. However, the issue which divides is the physical violence which was involved and the pre-meditated way in which it was delivered. This did not appear to be as spur of the moment as it may seem. It takes time to get out of a seat and walk to a stage. Seeing public violence on a global scale goes against everything we tell our own young people. I think it will be interesting to see the impact on the box office in the longer term as people may well vote with their wallets."