Before Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock, He Made Some Bald Jokes of His Own

Even if you didn’t watch the 94th Academy Awards telecast, you likely heard by now what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock. The incident, which is being dubbed “the slap heard ’round the world,” is all everyone has been talking about since the ceremony ended. And because what happened drew such strong opinions in the age of the internet and social media, it was only a matter of time before fans went digging into Smith’s past and found that the King Richard actor is guilty of making bald jokes himself.

Here’s more on that, and where things stand between Rock and Smith now.

Chris Rock, who got slapped by and Will Smith even though Smith made bald jokes in the past, posing together at the Hustle & Flow premiere in 2005
Chris Rock and Will Smith pose for a photo together at the Hustle & Flow premiere in 2005 | Lee Celano/WireImage

Smith slapped Rock after the comedian joked about Jada Pinkett Smith

It was a moment no one ever expected to see at the Oscars, however, it’s hard to unsee now. The image of Smith marching up on stage and hitting Rock right in the face is one many will never forget.

Rock took the stage to announce the nominees for Best Documentary Film. Prior to presenting the award, Rock did what he does and decided to get the crowd laughing by telling a few jokes. However, a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith went way too far in the Smith family’s eyes when Rock said: “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see ya.”

The reason most agree that the joke was in poor taste is because Smith’s wife has alopecia, a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles causing patchy bald spots and hair loss. At first, Smith laughed at the joke but when he saw his wife’s reaction he went up on stage and slapped the comedian.

Rock looked stunned and told the crowd: “Oh wow. Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me.” At that point, Smith yelled: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!”

Footage surfaces of Smith making bald jokes in the past

Since the incident, there has been a debate online about whether Smith should have done what he did.

Some have said that Rock’s joke was cruel and Smith was right to do that because he was sticking his wife. While others countered that physical violence on national TV with viewers of all ages watching was not the answer and the star could have handled things differently.

When Smith’s son, Jaden, took to Twitter later and endorsed his dad’s actions, he was met with some old footage dug up of Smith making fun of a bald person. The clip taht was shared is from back in 1991, during one of Smith’s appearances on The Arsenio Hall Show.

While sitting down with Hall on the couch Smith singled out the bass player in the show’s band and said: “He’s got to wax his head every morning.” When the audience made noises of disapproval, Smith shot back saying: “It’s a joke. Come on,” which is quite similar to how Rock pleaded that his remark was a “G.I. Jane joke.”

A number of fans called Smith a hypocrite after seeing the video. And one social media user wrote back to Jaden and asked: “Is this your Daddy making bald jokes? Did he know the man’s health issues?”

Diddy claims Smith and Rock have already settled things

Will Smith and Chris Rock greeting each other at the 1999 VMAs party
Will Smith and Chris Rock greeting each other at the 1999 VMAs party | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

A new debate is ongoing about whether what Smith did should be looked at differently since he thought it was perfectly OK to make fun of a bald person. While some do think he should absolutely be looked at differently now, others argued that bringing up a decades-old clip three years before he even met Jada is unfair. Whatever your opinion, the footage is out there now and the debate is sure to continue in the coming days.

As for where things stand right now between Smith and Rock, according to Sean “Diddy” Combs, they have already moved on from it. Page Six noted that at the Vanity Fair Oscars party following the ceremony, Diddy confirmed that the duo let bygones be bygones.

“That’s not a problem. That’s over. I can confirm that. It’s all love. They’re brothers,” Diddy claimed about any beef between Smith and Rock following the slap.

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