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-
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!