March 27, 2022, will live in infamy for Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, and many others who attended the 94th Academy Awards. While doing a bit before presenting the Best Documentary Feature, Rock looked at Jada sitting in the audience and joked, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, alright?”
What transpired next may be one of the most embarrassing moments in the Smith family’s history. But could the catastrophic failure of a film be even more shameful than slapping a comedian or Jada’s TMI confessions on Red Table Talk?
Will Smith smacking Chris Rock was one of the most shocking moments in Oscars history
Rock’s subtle quip referred to Jada’s shaved head, seemingly comparing it to Demi Moore’s shaved head in G.I. Jane (1997). In the war drama, Moore played Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, a woman determined to earn her place in the Navy SEALs. But there are contrasting differences between why Jada shaves her head and why the fictional character Lt. O’Neil shaved hers.
Lt. O’Neil shaved her head to solidify her status as a Navy Seal, a historically male-dominated military branch. Jada, on the other hand, lives with the disease alopecia areata which causes significant hair loss. Rather than walk around with large patches missing, she opted to shave her hair, as reported by Insider in December 2021.
Will can be seen on video initially laughing. Cameras also unmistakably caught Jada rolling her eyes with an irritated facial expression immediately after that. Since the video feed switched back to Rock so quickly, it’s unclear if Jada goaded Will before overreacting. According to The Hill, Will slapping Rock became the most shocking moment in Oscar history.
‘After Earth’ started as a Smith family project and ended as an embarrassment
Will Smith is 61st on IMDb‘s list of A+ actors based on the work he contributed over the years. Films like Bad Boys, Independence Day, Men in Black, Hitch, The Pursuit of Happyness, and I Am Legend have become timeless classics. Nevertheless, after playing lead roles in so many blockbuster films, Will determined it was time to change how he approached his movie career. The film meant to accomplish his ambitions was After Earth (2013).
While Wild Wild West tends to be the movie most mocked by fans and critics alike, After Earth is still considered by many to be among the most unpalatable. According to The Numbers, the film’s production budget was $130,000,000 while it brought in $251,499,665 overall. Will and Jada were producers; Will wrote the story. Additional producers and writers include James Lassiter, M. Night Shyamalan, and Gary Whitta.
Rotten Tomatoes may explain the film best: “After Earth is a dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi — and the latest setback for director M. Night Shyamalan’s once-promising career.” As of the date written, After Earth has an audience score of 36% and a critic score of 12%. One critic wrote: “Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan both at the peak of their respective ‘lost in the woods’ career period, After Earth is a complete disaster.”
Jaden Smith asked for legal emancipation due the criticism of ‘After Earth’
The father and son duo first starred together in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). Will said that despite always being present as a father, this film strengthened his connection with Jaden. Unfortunately, the “abysmal” failure of After Earth ended up having an equally abysmal impact on their relationship.
In an interview in 2015, Smith told Esquire that After Earth’s failure was excruciating. He explained that his son Jaden Smith’s involvement made it “the most painful failure in my career.” In Smith’s memoir titled Will, the press and fans’ nastiness toward his son got so bad that he refuses to repeat the comments. Jaden, 15 years old at the time, took the criticism so badly that he asked about emancipation.
He said that Jaden had faithfully followed each and every directive during the shooting of After Earth. In other words, Jaden was just a kid following his father’s advice and undeserving of such cruelty.