‘You don’t get to pick a redemption schedule’: Twitter deeply divided over Will Smith apology video

It’s been just over four months since the 94th Academy Awards and while most people have moved on since the infamous slap, actor Will Smith felt he still had some explaining to do and released a video Friday lamenting his “central trauma.”

Before winning the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father and coach to tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, in the film “King Richard,” Smith made television history when he marched on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock after a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was poorly received.

Since that time, Smith had received a ten-year ban from the ceremony and offered up his profound apologies to anyone he may have hurt by his actions while countless celebrities weighed in on the altercation. Now, while certain projects of his had been put on the back burner, the blockbuster actor seemed to be testing the waters to see if the public was ready for business as usual.

“It’s been a minute,” began the message in a video posted to Smith’s social media accounts Friday. “Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work… You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”

Chief among the unanswered questions was why the actor hadn’t apologized at the time when he accepted his Oscar the night of the slap. To that he explained, “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out. So I will say to you Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Though Rock might not be prepared to talk with Smith about it, he has had no apparent trouble integrating the incident into his comedy routine after his own initial period to process what happened. Recently he was joined by Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart on stage as they made light of the actor by naming a live goat “Will Smith” as part of a skit.

Smith suggested this matter is not as easy for him to move past after reiterating apologies to Rock, Rock’s family, the community, and his own family explaining, “Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down so it hurts. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me.”

“The work I’m trying to do is – I am deeply remorseful, and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself,” he went on, adding, “I’m human. I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of sh*t.”

Despite seemingly struggling with his own ego over his wrongdoing, Smith acknowledged, “there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”

He also made clear that his wife’s reaction had nothing to do with his decision to confront Rock on stage. “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris – Jada had nothin’ to do with it.”

At the end of the video, Smith expressed his hope that he would set things right and that, to his fans, “If you hang on I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”

However, reactions online seemed to indicate, just like after the initial incident, the court of public opinion was unmoved by the apology, and sides in favor and opposed to Smith remain firm.


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