On the Smith Slap

A few reflections on a memorable moment:

No, I am not a fan of Hollywood nor its awards nights. And no, I was not intending to say or write anything about an incident viewed by millions of people when it first happened, and viewed by many more millions after it occurred. If you still do not know what I am talking about, you obviously have been on Mars for the past 24 hours.

At the just held Oscars, an MC, Chris Rock, made a joke or two about Will Smith’s wife and her appearance. Smith did not like it, and in front of much of the world, he got up and slapped Rock. He then strongly chewed him out from his seat. It certainly was quite a moment in television history at least.

As I implied above, I watch very little television, see very few movies, and know very little about Hollywood stars and celebs. So I know next to nothing about Smith, his wife, and Rock. But since this has become such a huge topic of discussion, with plenty of folks taking sides here, I thought I would add just a few brief words.

And no, this is not some hugely important matter. But nonetheless, some basic truths – and some Christian truths – can at least be raised here and discussed. So if you think all this is just a waste of time, stop reading now. But for others who might be interested, here are a few passing thoughts.

First, I am of course not normally a fan of swearing and slapping people – that is not the preferred way to go. But while so many folks are now dumping on Will Smith, perhaps some words can be offered in his defence. As I said on the social media: At least he cared enough about his wife and her reputation to take a stand and protect her. (Yes, stay with me here – I did soon learn after posting that, that his is not exactly some terrific sort of marriage. More on that in a moment.)

A while later in the evening he did go on to win an Oscar for his role as the protective father of Serena and Venus Williams. In accepting the award he spoke further about protection and the like. So maybe the combination of his high view of the father of the William’s sisters, and his awareness of how his wife may just have been insulted got to him.

However, as I said above, it seems that his marriage is not exactly something worth emulating. It seems he is into ‘open marriage’ where both partners are free to shack up with others. That is nothing worth defending. It certainly is not something a Christian can engage in or condone. But whether he is in fact a Christian I do not know. One recent article speaks to these aspects of his relationship:

These are, of course, the fruits of the sexual revolution: Disorder and chaos, disgust and decay. This has been known for decades. When you move away from the square-and-sober arrangement of real, actual marriage in favor of sexual licentiousness and mayhem and gluttony, it’s never a good show.

 

And so at the Oscars this year we saw in Will Smith the curious, poisonous melding of the old order and the new, a mix of savage braggadocio and pathetic effeteness: a man striking another man for joking about his wife on stage while he allows numerous other men to make a far more sickening joke of his wife every other day of the year.

 

Will Smith feeling the need to violently defend his wife’s dignity is, in a certain context, an admirable trait: Every man should be prepared to do so for his own wife, under the right circumstances. That he did so while also tolerating the obscenity of an “open marriage” exposes the incident for the meaningless, useless gesture it was.

 

Chris Rock may have been right when he called the assault “the greatest night in the history of television,” if only because it revealed for us just how low our civilization has sunk, and how much lower we’ll doubtlessly continue to go. notthebee.com/article/will-smith-violently-defending-his-wifes-honor-while-also-letting-other-guys-have-sex-with-her-is-maybe-the-perfect-encapsulation-of-the-awful-post-sexual-revolution-landscape-

Spiritual considerations

As mentioned, I think masculinity, gallantry and seeking to protect the honour of women in general and your wife in particular are all good things. Today we are lacking big time in chivalry, gallantry, bravery and a willingness to stand up and fight for what is right. What were once considered to be virtues are now often seen as vices.

Of course whether slapping someone in the face is the way to go is a moot point. He did later put out a fairly decent and detailed apology on Instagram in which he did seem to have fully backtracked and felt remorse for what he had done. He said in part:

My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.

Hopefully the two of them can fully reconcile and get on with their lives. But as to his initial action, one woman said this in response to my social media post:

Yep. My immediate thoughts in the immediate seconds after seeing that were, “What a man! I wouldn’t mind a man who thinks that much of me.” I am aware that my response might be seen as un-Christian by some and am aware my opinion has been shaped by personal experiences where I was ‘left to my own devices’ in some moments of extreme need where a husband’s loving support was much needed, but on thinking on it since, I haven’t changed my mind. Yes, Will has faults but his response was that of a good husband, in my book.

And as Christians, there is a place to turn the other cheek. But as I have written before, there is also a place to protect an aggrieved third party. I think most decent husbands would seek to protect their wives in various ways if they came under some form of assault or attack – verbal or physical.

That is, while a believer may fully accept a personal insult or injury, there is a place to stand up and defend innocent third parties who come under threat or attack. See more on this matter here: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/04/20/difficult-bible-passages-matthew-539/

Finally, American Christian commentator Douglas Groothuis said this about the entire affair, and I think he basically gets things right here, including the spiritual imperatives:

Smith verses Rock

I watched the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident at Oscars after the fact on a replay. (That is one way to make the show interesting. I haven’t watched for about 40 years.)

There are several moral issues here.

1. Did Mr. Rock know that Mrs. Smith had an autoimmune disease that causes her to lose her hair? If so, the remark was inexcusable. If not, it is still rude to make fun of someone’s appearance, even if you are a comedian. Trash talk is still trash talk even if you have a felt tux on.

2. What about Mr. Smith? I feel his rage. I pictured myself in that setting. What if someone made fun of my sick wife in front of millions of people when she was decked out and beautiful? Would I sit there silently? I doubt it. I haven’t been in fight since I was 14, and I lost. I am not a violent man. I won’t even watch football and get upset at roadkill. But still…

3. I know Jesus said to turn the other cheek. That is what Rock had to do. I suppose he could have started fighting back. Was Smith “defending his family,” as he said in his acceptance speech? There are better ways of doing that. He did issue a general apology.

4. I don’t know what will happen next with these folks, but both Rock and Smith owe each other an apology. I hope they can reconcile.

But as I say, some of you might think this entire thing is just a big waste of time. Rightio then, back to your business!

[1408 words]

17 Replies to “On the Smith Slap”

  1. The following are my musings and ramblings. Hopefully it makes some sense.
    Having done something similar at a corporate Christmas function I can definitely relate to Will Smith’s response. I did warn the guy to stop doing what he was doing to my wife. He ignored me and paid the consequences. This in turn put a dampener on the whole night – he ended up in the pool.
    Now, whether violence was an appropriate response I cannot say. I felt vindicated up until the moment he hit the water. Then I experienced conflicting emotions about the spectacle and the rationalisation for creating it.
    Eph 5:22-33 passage just came to mind as did the table turning “My house is a house of prayer” scene at the temple. The reason I mentioned Ephesians 5 is that when married, the husband and wife become one. It should be noted that, when your spouse is wronged, slighted, insulted et cetera, both of you are affected. If she is dishonoured then you are dishonoured.
    In turn if the church is dishonoured then Jesus is dishonoured.
    Does the setting dictate how you respond and to what degree or should the response be equal whether it is in your own home or in public?
    The joke was hideous and inexcusable. Ridiculing disabilities is for the school playground bullies not live television. It is interesting, though, that, as with most things of this nature, the attention is more on the slap than what incited it.
    Do Christians remain meek and mild? I forget where this comes from but if we fail to defend our wives does it mean we hate them?
    All of this is a moral dilemma that will divide us when we are left to our individual interpretations rather than adhering to the biblical principals that should be applied. So do we turn the other cheek or overturn some tables?

  2. Bill
    I don’t believe anything that comes out of Hollywood. I think it was just a ploy to get their ratings up because the whole thing is pretty much in the toilet and nobody watches that train wreck called the Oscars anymore. It worked right?
    That’s my opinion anyway.

  3. Another thing to keep in mind Smith thought the joke was funny and laughed UNTIL he saw she didn’t like it then he went up and hit Chris. It appears she is the head of the family, at least in this situation, not him.

    I don’t know for sure but I think Chris Rock might not have known, or possibly forgot, about her condition but given his amusement at the joke at first and what he allows other men to get away with with his wife I have strong doubt that this was some defending her honor because something was stirred inside him.

    I just don’t buy the you can have sex with my wife but I draw the line at making fun of her. Even as a public figure not everyone is going to follow him closely and know everything about us so he should be willing to give the benefit of the doubt. And for good or bad public figures generally are lampooned.

    For Christians too being willing to give the benefit of the doubt and letting small things go, perhaps talk privately to the person later, would save us the embarrassment of brawling over every slight. Being too willing to defend your honor can be wrong too.

  4. I actually commended Mr Smith on the UK broadsheet The Times because he was, at that moment, being a protective husband just as my husband would have been because that is part of a husband’s role – to protect his wife and family. Regardless of what their marriage is like, about which I knew nothing until read your blog above, to be suffering from alopecia areata is no joke, my father-in-law had it but when you are a woman and also in the public eye how awful that anybody would be so crass as to draw attention to it.
    Talk about times have changed, the responses I received were horrifying, I never realised that women no longer want a man to protect them, they are perfectly capable of protecting themselves, thank you very much, was, to put it kindly, the sort of response which came my way.
    Lord, we truly need you to take us home, this is so not our home any more in any way, I want to go home and be with you and the rest of my family who will be raptured too.
    If nothing else this incident was, indeed, a revelation of the mores of society these days.
    It’s life Jim but not as we know it!

  5. Simply the downward spiral of lives chosen to live without God to be embraced by Hollywood and their street justice of their capital sin of “disrespect”. The USA is a society increasingly dominated by the the moral contractions of left wing ideologies.

  6. @ Anthony Cieszkiewicz – However you have not passed comment on what you think of a husband who is protective of his wife? Is slapping another man on the face because he has just been cruelly rude to a man’s wife something a husband should not do but he should just join in with the general cruel mockery of his wife who suffers from alopecia areata? Funnily enough I thought part of a husband’s role was to protect his wife and children, obviously I am mistaken. I thank God however that, as far as my husband is concerned, it is part of his role.

  7. True Anthony. We used to have fly over country but today they have infected even much of it.

  8. Thanks for the article Bill. I am praying for Hollywood and always have prayed- mostly when God gives a burden for an actor…
    I sometimes see His answers as well but this time round I pray for the peace of God to descend on all and forgiveness to occur in this recent situation… Though it stands for Babylon in many ways and a superficial culture that will be destroyed, Hollywood can still be used to portay films of worth and actors who should be esteemed (eg Ben Hur and the Bible story) … (but all that is the lust of the eye, the flesh and world needs to be seen for what it is- a world system that God can’t condone.) The actors need our prayers as they are tempted from every angle and rarely left in peace, and expected to live before the public eye and be analysed, criticised and either praised, slandered or hated according to the media slant on them.

    Just so readers now, I read that Chris Rock had no idea that Will Smith’s wife had the auto immune disease Alepeicia (loss of hair) and its very possible, that he would not have stooped to target her in the comment if it had known (I would hope he would not have said a derogatory word about her, if he had known.)
    Will ‘saw red’ and leapt (literally) to the defence of his wife (whom he perceived felt humiliated and belittled and sitting in a front row seat for all to see her humiliation.)
    In many ways it could have happened in another situation e.g. if a compere didn’t know that an actors wife had another disease as cancer or a brain tumor and hair loss, and used it unknowingly as a slant for his comedy…
    Whatever the way its used, it is low humor, a terrible humiliation and shame for the wife and the husband (as protector) and only few would ever seek to lower themselves to make a joke of it.
    I think its a tragic situation that has occurred…and it does show that even comedians need to check out facts and be careful to not harm others.
    God alone can help both forgive and Will Smith showed after he reacted to the deep hurt on his wife’s behalf…and he was sorry. God will forgive him and others will understand (flight/fight responses occur) but it shows the Holy Spirits power is needed to help everyone in this life. Will Smith said he does not condone violence in any form and that was genuine I believe…but he reacted and was tempted and now others need to let God heal…as we leave all judgement to God and pray for peace and forgiveness to come to Hollywood.
    The media though will never let it go and will feed Satan’s plan to cause hate and division. (I pray for the media too, as we have power in prayer but we know there are hosts of wickedness behind it and few want to tell a good news story or the Good News of the cross where Jesus was scorned, ridiculed and beaten and nailed…He did not defend Himself as He knew His Father above had a plan and would deal justly with those who put Him to death.)

  9. A very good argument for being temperate and slow to wrath.

    The correct procedure would be to explain the wrong being committed and to demand an apology.

  10. My fear is that stuff like this is used as another attack on free speech.
    Will Smith actually made a GI Joe joke years ago re a bold man (don’t know the full context, but anyways)
    As the left seem humourless and dwell in the miserable, humour and memes can obviously offend them and they know they are great vehicles for truth.
    So what a way to send a message loud and clear; making fun of people is no longer tolerated, you will be dealt with!
    Another marxist tactic.
    Or, are our masters setting the precedent that we just smack people in the face if we don’t like what they’re saying?
    That’s my thoughts anyways.

  11. Dear Bill,
    This was so obviously a stunt used to generate talk for the films in which this supposedly loving husband and wife need to raise awareness for. Celebrities are no longer revered the way they once were (thank the Good Lord for that) and whilst you said “stop reading now” if we thought it was a waste of time, I admit my carnal nature took over so I read on, and I like to read what you write! However, this has done exactly what it was purposed to do – make us all talk about it, then we’ll go and watch the movies, then the rich “Hollywood-ians” get richer and so on and so forth. Let’s stick to real world issues, Godly issues, Living-in-the-Last-Days issues and not pay homage to more made up, fake media that we have finally been awoken to.
    Thanks,
    Bonnie
    (New Gisborne)

  12. Thanks Bonnie. Two replies if I may. My site blurb does say this: “This website is devoted to exploring the major cultural, social and political issues of the day.” And my piece did offer some spiritual considerations which may be somewhat important. Also, and based on the following video link, while Will might be a loving husband, it seem his wife may not be all that loving: https://www.facebook.com/MattWalshBlog/videos/725319165311021

    But thanks again for your thoughts. And we will pray about your carnal nature! Bless ya.

  13. Dear Bill

    I hope others have read or heard that after Will Smith slapped his film star host, it was Denzel Washington who took him aside to counsel and pray with him. This occurred immediately on the night from what I understand with Will Smith in tears and Denzel showing both compassion and giving a warning about the devil lurking around at our highest and our lowest moments (e.g. in face of great fame). I thank God for Denzel being a pastor and friend to Will and helping him quickly catch the spiritual perspective (remembering too, that Jesus had to heal the ear of the high priest when his disciple Peter cut it off, as Jesus was being arrested.) Denzel’s ministry at that moment was Godly to Will Smith and he responded. The story was in the Brisbane Courier Post and in another newspaper I read (possibly the Australian). Glory be to God that something good (Romans 8.28) came from this impulsive act and much discussion. God forgives all sins except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit-so Will had a chance to be forgiven and the public heard about it – and best of the media reported the positive side for once. Amen

  14. @ Gail Petherick, Thank you so much for that information, I am such a fan of Denzel Washington and cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to walk with the Lord in such a godless environment. People like him and Jim Caviezel need all the prayers we can give them.

  15. Amen. Thanks Julia. I will be praying for both actors too and Will Smith to come to know more of the gospels and Christ. I know Jim Caviezel had a superb role in ‘The Passion.’ and was under attack during the filming of it.
    A Hollywood couple (names forgotten) who were told to make a film of the Bible some 8-10yr ago and they went on to produce ‘Luke’ and then the ‘Book of Acts’ and I think may have made the film ‘The apostle Paul’ as well showing how much he was persecuted (released 2 years ago). All were such good portrayals of the Bible itself and Godly.
    I can see how God wants brave Hollywood actors and directors who will yield to Him…
    Even the films (in 1950′-60’s) ‘The Robe’ and ‘A Spartacus’ reached me as a child and as a young teenager and ‘A man called Peter;’ each one had a different angel but pointed to God and Christ in some way and planted seeds of faith so I later had a little background to portray the crucifixion and I came to Christ 10 yrs later.
    May God raise up some in Hollywood to act for Him and reach any disillusioned within that system.

  16. Sadly I read on the weekend that Will Smith has sought spiritual wisdom in India from a guru. ( I should have kept the article to double check that) It was not what I had hoped for at all, as Denzel Washington had prayed with him that night and TD Jakes ministered to Will as well.
    I can only hope and pray Will finds the true God and the word of God as his source of truth and looks upward and not to Eastern religion.
    Since I set off to India to find truth also many years ago, I can’t say anymore than that- except ‘he/she who seeks God finds him’ as God led me to an evangelist after trying to find truth through a Buddhist guru and seeking peace with 200 others through mediation. I realised in the middle of the course I was seeking answers that were revealed only in the Bible itself and I needed to approach God directly.

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