Hi and Welcome to the A & J PEI Treasures E Jean Simpson Author Blog Post and Podcast. I’m your host, Jean coming to you from the beautiful Province of Prince Edward Island, Canada!! The blog post and podcast is an opinion piece and only reflects this author’s opinion and not that of any other entity. Today I find myself with little to discuss except that what makes news isn’t always news and sometimes we miss part of the issue for the more dramatic as they say, miss the forest for the trees. If you want to find out more, then stay tuned…!
I find myself avoiding the news these days. It is full of some fight between actors and others who should be actors because they really don’t need the press they are given. For instance, on a daily basis we hear about violence against others. People beating, shooting and killing each other. The amount of press time given to the incident between Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars seems to be incredible. Then we ask why it is given such interest? Perhaps it is a symptom of the world unrest. For anyone who would not know and would have to be living under a rock to not know about this, actor Will Smith came up and slapped Chris Rock across the face during the filming of the Oscars for making comments about Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. For those who might not know, she suffers from alopecia which results in hair loss. Has anyone watched the footage? I decided to because this didn’t seem quite real. It honestly felt contrived in watching it, however, it apparently was not. The thing that I noticed most and I’m not sure if anyone else did…do you know what it was? It was the look on Jada Pinkett Smith’s face that came after the joke. I don’t in any way condone what Will Smith did. It was wrong. It was patriarchal and a foolish move. Perhaps he had one too many drinks and I’ve also heard rumours that Chris Rock has targeted his wife more than once. But, while everyone was focused on the two people who seem involved in this, Jada Pinkett Smith was left out of it entirely. Later on they point out that she laughed…I’m not sure I’d know how to react to the whole situation. She made one statement since that I am aware of. This is where I get the idea that sometimes the news isn’t the actual news. It is like they miss the point. Will Smith should never in a hundred years have done what he did. But, it seems that Chris Rock is getting sellout crowds to his next show. He refused to press charges. Everyone is taking sides. In the midst of all this, is the woman who suffers from a medical condition and is, at the first, left out entirely. Perhaps she is the wise one in all of this.
According to Sanam Saeed, “We need to start identifying the triggers that aggravate mental health issues in our society – bullying, social media negativity and anxiety, gender based violence, substance abuse, stigma around issues such as maternal issues, etc., and we need to speak up about these more and get to the source of the problems.” I couldn’t agree more with this evaluation. We see the violence, but make the actual battle that Jada Pinkett Smith has been fighting just part of a joke on the Oscars. I’ve read varying reports that Chris Rock was not aware of her battle with alopecia. But I also read that she has made it public in the past months. Again, I don’t condone in any way what Will Smith did, but was Chris Rock also perpetuating bullying by bringing it to the attention of everyone that she has a shaved head. This was in the middle of the Oscars. Of course, at the same time, we need to understand that the Oscars have been host to a number of shocking things. In 1974, there was a streaker (someone who runs nude…not really Oscar fare) at the Oscars… https://www.vogue.com/article/most-shocking-moments-in-oscar-history and of course Marlon Brando declined the Oscar for the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry and “he offered up his place at the podium to Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather”. None of these involved violence, but for better or worse, it is not the only controversy to darken the Oscars. Of these, Marlon Brando should have had the most respect for his actions. It was done to make sure that the plight of the Native American in the film industry was not right.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I honestly haven’t stated an opinion of Will Smith’s behavior because it is inherently a wrong thing to do. He has said much more about himself than Chris Rock (I honestly find his joke offensive given the situation). I don’t know the whole story and it is unlikely that the general public will get the whole story. I think that it could have been handled a lot differently. At the same time, the look on Jada Pinkette Smith’s face left me wondering if she didn’t feel as though she had been slapped in the face. Here is where we get into the two wrongs don’t make a right part of the talk. Where we say because he hurt Jada’s feelings, doesn’t give Will Smith the right to smack Chris Rock in the face. We’ve seen so much against bullying and against violence and yet we saw both things happening in moment by moment action on the Oscar night show. A show meant to celebrate the industry. It’s just humour after all….
This quote is one that I would like to share from Eileen Cook, “I’m joking,” She said to the group. Ah, the joking defense. The tried and true excuse for bullies everywhere.” You see, there can be as much damage done with an ill-conceived joke against a person who is battling a medical condition of any sort or even a mental health condition. Would Chris Rock have gotten laughs if Jada had lost her hair battling cancer? It can do as much harm as a slap in the face to the person who bravely shows up and does all they can. I think the true nature of the whole situation is far sadder and far more complicated than just someone slapping someone on stage. This is a sad situation of multiple inappropriate things all in one stage. It’s just a joke…sometimes it is used as a defense. I can’t imagine being the poor woman sitting there, struggling with alopecia and trying to be classy and beautiful (which she is, though I also understand she has her own issues according to rumours) and having someone point out that she has her head shaved. The thing that most women are used to having people admire…their beautiful hair or whatever attribute that gets lost to illness or accident and having someone on stage point it out and make a joke of it. Was it ill-conceived or purposefully done? When it is done in a crowd around someone with a disability or medical condition, is it looked at similarly? How would you feel if you were the woman being pointed out at the Oscars in this way?
Honestly, I’m not that impressed by Will Smith or Chris Rock in all of this. Neither one was all that appropriate in my opinion. It is thoughtless and it is more the woman who was hurt in all this mess that I feel for. Sometimes I find the world a strange place. We see the client as the people in the fight. Sometimes it is the person they were very careful not to show. While Will Smith is yelling an obscenity at Chris Rock, I did not see the feed on Jada. How humiliating to be put in the center of that male ego fest when you are battling your own issues. How unfair that she should be forced to be centre of a joke when she suffers a medical condition. If she has very little to say and it is mostly cryptic, well, I can’t blame her. I extend my sympathies that she was put through such a cold and heartless night when she was there to celebrate. Maybe people need to think more about the situations that people are facing in daily life before they decide to put up ‘just a joke’. Medical conditions, mental health conditions, none of these are funny…at least we report that they aren’t and they get less funny to the person who has to live it. Yet, the whole thing at the Oscars was mishandled by two people who should be respectable. What have we taught our younger generation? How can we say don’t bully? Don’t beat up people. Respect each other. It may have been a chance for a teachable moment. It could have been a chance for Jada to say something about her condition and how there are people in the world that suffer this condition and it isn’t something that is ‘just a joke’. If it was done at the after party, likely it would have been picked up on all news media and her classiness would have been a short lived topic (good stuff seldom stays in the news long). At least it isn’t ‘just a joke’ when you have to live with it every day. Did Will Smith see his wife’s face and lost it knowing what she is going through? Did he have too much to drink? Did they need that drama? Who knows, but most of the questions can likely be answered by a quick probably not or possibly. They could have made a statement at the after party and encourage others to move forward in their lives with alopecia and to respect each other. A plea for research into the condition. Another missed opportunity….Thanks for listening to my podcast and/or reading my blog post and thanks for your interest in A & J PEI Treasures!
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