The slap on the Oscars last night was not a stunt, it was a sign of one of the “last true movie stars” snapping in a world that now to “win” requires an obscene and uncomfortable amount of oversharing.
Obscene and uncomfortable for some … Will Smith is arguably one of the last “true Hollywood stars” who is now very publicly struggling between relevancy and establishing a legacy.
Both came to a head last night, and it’s as ugly as it sounds.
For those who do not know, last night Will Smith smacked Chris Rock on live TV (during the very “classy” Oscars) while Rock was presenting an award for Best Documentary. You can see the uncensored video here.
Chris made a joke about Will’s wife Jada, in regards to her starring in GI Jane 2, the original which notably had star Demi Moore (by choice) shaving her head.
His exact words were “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”
Jada has very publicly been battling alopecia since her confirmed diagnosis on her own talk show Red Table Talk in 2018 (a condition that causes hair loss).
I’m not here to comment on the joke, or the condition.
Hair is directly associated with health, and vitality in women so I can only imagine what she is going through psychologically.
What I am (and have been) interested in, is how LONNNGGG of a road Will (and his team) paved for his Oscar win.
On Father’s Day in June of 2020, Will Smith appeared on Jada’s Red Table Talk show (on Facebook Watch) as a special “RTT Father’s Day Special Event.”
At the time, the couple had been in the news with a series of are they or aren’t they questions?
“Are they or aren’t they … divorcing?”
“Are they or aren’t they … in an open marriage?”
“Are they or aren’t they … each gay?”
“Are they or aren’t they … gender fluid?”
I give them a lot of credit for setting their own record straight, but it was on Jada’s show (ON WILL’S CELEBRATED DAY AS A FATHER).
This wasn’t an even playing field, and the 42:33 seconds (you can see here) visibly show Will fighting to keep his family together at any cost.
His wife brings up topics ranging from fatherhood, to their marriage, and even more intimately their sex life.
As a viewer, I remember watching thinking this was one of the first times in modern culture that a superstar husband and (very talented but respectfully not as equally famous) wife both have spoken so candidly and intimately, for the world to see.
it was uncomfortable, it was relatable, and at the end of the day made for really great television (regardless that the show played on a digital platform).
But what’s the cost mentally for someone, like Will who at 53, is teetering the line between comfort in studio PR executives running the show to secure box office numbers, to now competing for digital likes, comments, views, and ultimately relevancy?
The old PR model is broken, and doesn’t work in the dominating digital world.
Everyone wants to know what you’re eating for breakfast, what your #OOTD is.
A good social media person can maintain that relevancy for you, but what if your partner wants more?
what if your partner’s relevancy resides in the reveal?
Jada Pinkett Smith is no stranger to the overshare.
Her goal in starting RTT (according to Jada herself) was “to create a safe space.” She’d hoped to create a home for “real, raw, unfiltered conversations about what’s changing, and how those changes are affecting us and the process that we’re going through in order to deal with those changes.”
The show was launched in May of 2018, just weeks before the very intimate display between Will and Jada and have since included interviews with her children discussing their polyamory, and psychedelic drug use.
As a viewer what was apparent was that a lot of things that should be discussed at a dinner table or intimate family setting were now being used for fodder on the show.
It’s a similar model to the Kardashians, but why is it less believable with the Smith Clan? The Kardashians have very much a “we’re all in this together,” while as a viewer watching the Smiths is like being invited into an intimate conversation where one party “had a little too much of something.”
the sharing seems off balanced at best, exploitative and boundary-less at its worst.
The first time I truly questioned “is this too much” with the Smiths was when Will began his book tour.
the book “will” (his self-titled memoir) was released on november 9, 2021.
In it, Will accounts very intimate details about wanting to murder his father for being abusive to his mother, contemplating suicide at 13, jealousy within his marriage, drug use, and body insecurities.
Any fan of Will’s can go, “he’s human just like me!” Coming from a guy who famously fought aliens when they tried to take over planet Earth, that meant something.
Will was raw in a way we had never seen a “movie star” be before.
Unfortunately, even for the internet, there were certain details that should have remained private. The headlines in November 2021 read, “Will Smith Reveals He Used to Vomit After Orgasming Because He Was Having Too Much Sex.”
The reveal included the fact that “Will and Jada drank and had sex ‘multiple times every day’ for 4 months straight when they started dating, in an effort to please her.”
Twitter was so pissed off at the couple that for weeks on end #WillandJada trended SO frequently that it was now SOLELY trending to get people to stop making it trend.
It was the equivalent of Gretchen Weiner’s dream of “fetch” coming true, only to discover that fetch happened so frequently people wanted to throw it back.
the man behind the curtain wasn’t “revealed,” the man was stripped, shamed, and now (more so than ever) public fodder with his wife’s name trending as frequently as his own. for better or worse, the man is now enmeshed with the wo(man).
To further complicate the overshare, Will started a YouTube channel also at the same time as he launched his book, in which he documented being in the “worst shape of his life.”
In May of 2021, he posted on Instagram that he was going to embark on a body transformation. Again, one that coincided with the book tour and his Oscar campaign.
Will says, “When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life physically,” the actor says. “But mentally I was somewhere else. And I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself.”
But was this done at Will’s “will?” He also mentioned in the book his insecurity on his body during filming of the movie Bad Boys. Smith said he told the director that he thought it would appear “corny” and unnatural to be shirtless in the scene. A scene that ultimately made Will a movie star despite his insecurity in his newly formed muscles and “manly” body.
now, with his own declaration being that he is in the “worst shape of his life,” he also includes that in his “documented journey?”
What’s the mental health cost considering his past?
Is that even being questioned for someone who has spent his life living in a land of make-believe which also self admittedly “saved him” during his earlier years.
The exact quote from the memoir reads, “my fantasy life is what protected me from the world.”
how much “real” is too real for someone who is famous for playing pretend?
We frequently see this with women becoming associated with their partners, but rarely have we seen this so publicly from a man who is so famous.
The “road to the slap” was cracking and unfortunately lead to a snap.
Minutes before the slap happened, I had said to my group of friends how sad I thought Will’s “road to the Oscar” has been. They had no idea how much information he had revealed publicly and how (from my perspective) noticeably uncomfortable it made him.
I showed my friend’s this video:
They all felt the weight of his pressure to keep his marriage together, and his desire to do anything his wife wants just to keep her happy.
Again, we see this with women frequently, but not as often with men particularly (one who is more famous than the other).
When Chris Rock made the joke, he started off by saying Jada I love you, knowing that this was going to be a “dig” at his friend. She was unamused, but Will (at first) laughed it off. He then did what a man on the verge of snapping would do, and acted irrationally by getting up on stage and hitting (remember this is) his friend.
What we all saw was a triggered man reacting.
Unfortunately for him, and the audience, he did end up winning Best Oscar which was bittersweet for someone you can tell is fighting for everything he has so intensely, and gripping onto it SO HARD he himself is losing grip.
I, like a lot of people, was really angry that he apologized for his behavior to the nominees and the Academy but not to Rock himself, but now (after my own good night of sleep) see that that was illogical.
Because. He. Is. Human. And. He. Is. Triggered.
This. Was. Not. Staged.
I’ve personally never hit someone, but have been pretty close. (Stalking anyone, anyone?)
This is a man who on what should be the BEST NIGHT OF HIS LIFE woke up (I’m assuming) not feeling so great. What was years in the making, was exploited to a point of explosion that took away from the entire point all together.
Or maybe this was the point?
“Will” we be finding out the true story on the all new EXPLOSIVE season of Red Table Talk?
I’m sad to say, I’m not interested in knowing.
Some things really are better left unsaid, or in this case untweeted.
Here’s an update on the Body Language video from above: