The slap | Mark’s Remarks


In retirement, I’m hoping I can see many more movies than I’m able to right now. I also want to be able to be one of those movie reviewers who does a “top 10” list and predicts Oscars winners and all that.

Just so you know, I predicted wins for Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye Bakker and also predicted that the lady from the new “West Side Story” would win; for the same role and category Rita Moreno won for in 1962 from the original movie. I mean, that’s just too great a thing to happen and it makes for good movie politics and press, right?  

Anyone can tell that a lot of awards hubbub really centers around money and campaigning. It’s hard to judge the best performances, but I almost always have my own opinion and often disagree with voters.

So now that I’m done bragging, I will tell you I didn’t predict all the craziness that became the latest Oscars telecast. I mean shoot, I figured that they were like everyone else: trying to get back to normal. I figured it might be a little better than last year, but I didn’t have high expectations.

The hosts were pretty good. I love Wanda Sykes, despite her sometimes nasty mouth. Same for Amy Schumer. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know the third lady.  But they were as funny as they could be, and they did the best they could with what seemed to be a limited environment – even though the shindig was in a big theater again.  

One of the hostesses poked fun at Will Smith and his wife earlier in the telecast, making a reference to the open marriage they’ve talked about publicly. Both Smiths seemed to take it in stride.

I got home late and hit the “live” button thingie on my TV so I could watch it in its entirety.  To be honest, much of it was ho-hum and I kid you not, I almost hit the fast forward and sped through to the end parts, just to make sure all the predictable parts actually happened.

My movie buff friends always watch, and so I was a little surprised when I got an ominous message from one of them. It read “Let me know when you get to Chris Rock.” At that point, I was still watching the supporting categories and was about 30 minutes behind in the telecast.

I had no idea what was going on, so I became more attentive. Chris Rock came out. He said some funny stuff and then made a joke about Will Smith’s wife’s appearance. 

Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, which causes you to lose your hair.  She looked great; very glamorous and classy. Chris Rock took a shot at her, and it really wasn’t too bad considering he wasn’t fully informed of the reason for her hairstyle.

At the moment he made the joke, Smith still laughed but his wife was visibly ticked off.  A few moments later, Smith walked up onto the stage, smacked Rock across the face, and walked off. 

Like everyone else, I thought it was a part of the show. In fact, I’m still not too sure it wasn’t. You know, I wouldn’t put it past those two to come up with such a prank.  

But it all looked too real, and if it was indeed a prank, then it may have just been concocted between the two guys. Telecast folks cut the sound, which involved both guys saying a few bad words. If you want the uncut version, go online.  You could probably read Will Smith’s lips, though.

I mentioned my background as a “movie critic” earlier because it’s a little funny to me. I don’t get to see as many movies as I plan to in a couple of years, and I use the word “critic” loosely. I don’t always feel I’m sharp enough to give much depth to movie reviews other than “I liked it or I didn’t.” 

Still, people ask my opinions on movies and I already had a few people shooting me texts, asking my opinion on the “slap heard round the world.”

Here’s my opinion: if it was an elaborate prank, then it was brilliant. Both Rock and Smith are going to get a lot of attention for it, and if they did it as a well-kept secretive joke, then more power to them.  

Maybe they are fed up with a lot that has to do with the Academy Awards and this was their way of stirring things up.

If it was indeed real, then the tables turn a bit.  Rock is a comedian, and he’s known for taking shots at people. Heck, I’ve heard comedians say worse things and get way, way more personal. So, if anyone is mad at Chris Rock, too bad. He never told you he was going to be nice and all politically correct. He’s a comedian.

To Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith: look, you two have been very vocal about things. You are famous. You have a public life which makes you bazillions of dollars. You blast the Oscars for being exclusive, yet fail to acknowledge that the contest is supposed to be about talent rather than politics, religion and so on.  

The two of you talk publicly about having an open marriage in which you have sexual relationships with other people.  Your children can access this talk. For some reason, you think the public needs to know about your voracious sexual appetites and your constant side flings.

Here’s me speaking for most people: we don’t care.

You two are talented.  You entertain people and make a wonderful living doing it. You have made people smile. You are good actors.  Hopefully it’s something you love. Thanks for entertaining us.

But listen, we don’t need to know about your private life.  Do your job. Entertain us, enjoy the cash flow.  We don’t need extra details.  

If someone jokes around with you about things you’ve said publicly and if a comedian jokes about your wife without knowing she has alopecia, you can be visibly upset and even make a tactful comment. You can talk to the press or the comedian himself. 

Maybe people will apologize. Maybe it will work out and you can show the world how mistakes are made or how forgiveness is given. Show a little more understanding and grace.  

Don’t be walking up on a telecast in front of millions of people and decide to smack someone around.  I mean, we all have that within us– I regularly have a fantasy list of people I’d like to slap. Or at least pinch. Or kick.

But we can’t act on that, can we? We can’t be going around popping each other just because we get offended or aggravated.

So as the adults in my childhood used to sometimes say to me: “Straighten up!  Quit actin’ a fool.”

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