Academy member says Will Smith must return Oscar; Chris Rock sets condition to talk about ‘the slap’

Following the 10 year ban of Will Smith from the Academy Awards, one member is speaking up about the “toothless penalty” for “brutality” demonstrating an endemic crisis in our “national conscience,” including jests from Chris Rock that he’ll talk about it when he gets paid.

After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their decade ban of Smith for slapping Rock during the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, actor Harry Lennix decided he could not remain silent on the “tawdry episode.”

In an op-ed for Variety, Lennix suggested the events were an “ethical catastrophe” that culminated in an affront to God for which Smith received, “little more than an extended time out for a playground bully. It’s a toothless penalty that lays bare the shallowness of Hollywood morals.”

The actor, who incidentally portrayed a love interest for Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith in the 2003 film “The Matrix Reloaded,” recounted how of all the unsettling things that occurred after the incident, “the most galling to me was his reference to the influence of a higher power during his surreal acceptance speech.”

Smith stated, “In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.”

“This attempt to explain his actions added to the travesty of this ethical catastrophe,” Lennix fumed. “In couching his acceptance speech as somehow submitting to the will of God, Smith abdicated personal accountability.”

Along with the “frequently profane” behavior throughout the ceremony, Lennix added later, “it is an insult to the honor of God to assign him any part of the tawdry episode.”

The actor did not hold back on the seeming acceptance from the audience over the crime committed that evening, “Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige. That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes.”

“With one deft blow,” he added, “Will Smith created an existential crisis for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The incident was such a jolt to societal norms that it will gnaw away at our national conscience until somehow properly atoned for.”

Meanwhile, according to the Desert Sun, Rock remained mum on the topic during his Friday show at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Having already refused to divulge the audience during his six sold-out shows in Boston the week following the slap, offering only that he was “still processing,” Rock made light of the event at his California show.

“I’m OK, I have a whole show and I’m not talking about that until I get paid,” Rock reportedly told attendees who were required to turn in all recording devices before being seated. “Life is good. I got my hearing back.”

Lennix took umbrage with the “coarseness of pop culture in the age of social media” and argued the only path toward remedy would be for Smith to prostrate himself and offer a statement like, “Out of respect for the 94 years of honor conferred upon this award, I do not in good conscience feel worthy of being its custodian.”

The opinion that, “To argue that some deterministic force was at play is to deny the sad fact that the affair was purely human,” is a much harder line than the one taken by Denzel Washington who counseled Smith during the ceremony.

Washington had relayed that, “At your highest moment that’s when the devil comes for you,” and stated, “for whatever reason the devil got a hold of him that night.”

In Lennix’s estimation, “a grave more failure occurred, but the psychology and philosophy that underpins this ongoing spectacle can very ably be explained as an act of free will.”

Therefore, he concluded, “The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remediated. The only hope for a justifiable grace must involve Smith voluntarily returning his award for best actor.”


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