When you google Chris Rock one of the first images of the actor/comedian/filmmaker you see is him getting slapped by Will Smith at the Academy Awards.
And while there are differing points of view on the ‘incident’ here are the facts.
Chris Rock took the Academy Award stage to present an award and in Chris Rock fashion made some jokes.
He made a joke about Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. It is worth noting, Bardem did not attempt to slap Chris Rock.
Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, or lack thereof. (It was later reported she had a condition that caused her to lose her hair)
Will Smith laughed at the joke.
Jada Pinkett Smith did not.
Will Smith took the stage and went up to Chris Rock, who had his hands behind his back and is smaller than Smith, and slapped him.
About an hour later Smith won the Academy Award, deservedly so, and apologized for his actions to everyone it seemed, except to Chris Rock.
Some feel that Rock deserved to be slapped, some did not. I feel at these award shows, jokes happen all the time and I don’t believe there was ill intent on Rock’s part. I could be wrong but what I’m not wrong about is initially Smith laughed.
We speak a lot about mental health and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that in that moment, Smith was going through something very profound.
So why are we talking about this? Well in 2023 Chris Rock chose to respond. Now Rock could have gone on any talk show after that event in 2022 to give his thoughts on the matter. He could have gone on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Colbert, etc and responded but chose not to. Instead, he cashed a reported $20 million from Netflix to tell his side of the story as part of his Selective Outrage special.
There are a lot of people in this world who are bullied, but none who are getting $20 million to tell their side of the story.
Was Selective Outrage Rock’s best special? That’s something that can be discussed but I don’t think so. I feel it was an effective response.
What is glossed over but shouldn’t be is that Selective Outage is the first live comedy special that Netflix has ever done. Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart, nor Joe Rogan or anyone else has ever done a live special on Netflix.
This was afforded to Rock and Netflix made the most of it with a live pre and post show. He was also featured in a Netflix documentary called Headliners Only with Kevin Hart and had a role in the film Rustin.
Add in Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Selective Outrage and it’s safe to say Chris Rock had a solid 2023.
Rock was attacked on stage in 2022. He bit his tongue and waited approximately a year to respond and set a record of the most-streamed comedy special in a week.
In life we are taught to turn the other cheek. Rock turned the other cheek and grabbed the microphone and walked off with $20 million dollars and that is why I find him fascinating.