It might turn out to be one of those “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” moments. I was celebrating my sister’s birthday on Sunday night when my brother announced, “Drama at the Oscars!” (his exact words). I asked him for more information and he explained as much as he could glean from those very early tweets that were posted from Australian TV. Will Smith smacked Chris Rock? What?
As a social media professional, I naturally track viral moments and hot topics. In my career I don’t think I have ever seen anything explode like the Rock-Smith confrontation—and for good reason. Besides packing star power and controversy on one of America’s biggest stages, the whole event centered on a quick movement. The forceful slap was conducive to be replayed via GIFs and short form video…over and over again. It was the perfect storm.
That storm thundered down on the social media world as it took over every platform. In addition to the numerous videos that circulated, we were all inundated with an extreme amount of Rock vs. Smith hot takes. Even as someone who expected a strong response, I was blown away by the fiery, passionate reaction that ensued from pretty much every angle you could think of. Along with my own personal followers and friends sounding off, I observed as everyone from Stephen A. Smith to Howard Stern to Tiffany Haddish offered their commentary. I never really formulated my own opinion just because I was hit so hard with uncensored, angry, and raging takes from all sides. Everything had already seemed to be said so what could I possibly add to the discussion?
I certainly can’t contribute anything in defense of either man that is fresh, clever, or thought-provoking. Rather, I can just make a general observation: What happened on Sunday evening was sad. Sure, it was “impressive” in terms of how it captivated the social media world but it was embarrassing too. To watch a nice event go completely south was cringeworthy. Despite some reports that suggested otherwise, I highly doubt that either Chris Rock or Will Smith (who had just won an Academy Award) walked out of the venue with his head held high.
In fact, it might be awhile before either one of them is able to walk in or out of a building with eyes looking anywhere but down. Sunday night is a stain on the brilliant careers of both men. Don’t Blink.