Oscars 2022: Why Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock Made Him the Night’s Biggest Loser

Anyone who watched the 2022 Academy Awards will remember it for one thing: Amy Schumer’s Spider-Man costume. Kidding! Will Smith slapping Chris Rock for making fun of Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia is a moment that will go down in Oscars history. 

The slap heard ‘round the world garnered praise on Twitter from Jaden Smith, and even though Will Smith earned his first Oscar later in the evening, he still goes down as the night’s biggest loser.

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards after Rock insulted Jada Pinkett Smith.
Chris Rock (left) and Will Smith moments after Smith slapped him at the 2022 Oscars | Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Will Smith, Chris Rock, and Jada Pinkett Smith have a history

The 2022 Oscars wasn’t the first time Rock took aim at Pinkett Smith. The comedian insulted her when he hosted the 2016 Academy Awards. During Rock’s opening monologue that year he called out Pinkett Smith for boycotting the show, pointing out that she was on a TV show at the time and not even nominated for an award. Not only that, but Rock also insulted their children in 2011.

Though Pinkett Smith quickly moved on from Rock’s 2016 comments, it came off as a personal attack. After all, she wasn’t the only one to boycott the Oscars that year. Will Smith and Spike Lee were among those skipping the show to raise awareness for the lack of diversity among the nominees. 

Rock poked the bear again at the 2022 Academy Awards, and we know how it turned out. Smith defending his wife appears noble, but he ended up as perhaps the night’s biggest loser.

Smith might be the biggest loser at the 2022 Oscars

Let’s be clear — Rock threw the first stone by making fun of Pinkett Smith. Attacking another person’s spouse is not a smart move. To make it worse, Rock made fun of Pinkett Smith for her short hair, which is out of her control due to the autoimmune disorder alopecia. She is open about it, but that doesn’t make it right for Rock to poke fun at it.

Will Smith might have initially laughed off the insult (as the broadcast showed), but the good humor didn’t last long. Soon after, he strode to the stage and delivered the now-infamous slap.

And he was in the wrong.

As most schoolchildren can tell you, two wrongs don’t make a right. Yes, Rock was out of line to start with, but Smith resorting to violence wasn’t the best response. Settling the matter privately or using his words would have been a better route. He let his emotions get the best of him.

He should know that some hurtful words might come his way since he is someone who has spent most of his adult life in the public eye. After all, “It comes with the territory, but we gotta keep moving,” as Pinkett Smith herself said in the past (per X17 via Us Weekly).

Not only did Smith let his emotions overtake him, he looked akin to a bully taking lunch money. Seeing the 6-foot-2 Smith stride up and slap the 5-10 Rock was like seeing Dave Bautista going after Timothée Chalamet. 

The slap didn’t appear all that effective, either. Rock hardly moved after Smith sent his right hand flying across his face, and then he kept on presenting.

With one swing in the heat of the moment, Smith rewrote his image. Instead of being known as a superstar actor with a string of successful movies and an Oscar to his name, he will forever be known as the person who resorted to violence to settle a dispute at the Academy Awards.

Though Rock and Smith quickly buried the hatchet, at least according to Diddy, Smith might come to regret his actions.

He might regret what he did


Shortly after the infamous slap, Smith was back on the stage accepting the Oscar for best actor in a leading role for King Richard. Hopefully he got some good pictures with his Academy Award, because he might have to give it back.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences instituted a code of conduct in 2017 that states in part, “There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency.”

Smith himself seemingly acknowledged his wrong in his tearful acceptance speech. The Academy could conceivably revoke his best actor win for slapping Rock, though such action is exceedingly rare, as The Hollywood Reporter notes. 

Whether or not Smith has to give up his Oscar, the fact he attacked Rock at all cheapened his award win and made him one of the biggest losers of the evening.