It was the slap that was heard all around the world. Will Smith stormed the stage at the 2022 Oscars and physically struck an unsuspecting Chris Rock before returning to his seat, from where he continued to verbally assault him. Reams of digital ink has since been spilt with social commentary oscillating between the twin extremes of support or condemnation.
One of the most insightful responses — immediately after the incident occurred — came from Denzel Washington who reportedly told Smith, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.’ The warning was more than a little prescient, with Smith receiving the best actor award less than half an hour later.
Even with Smith publishing a public apology the next day, many questions remain. Without doubt, one the best analysis was provided by Candace Owens. In this day of progressive politics, the fact that Owens is black and also a woman, means that she has cultural permission to say what the lighter-skinned majority actually think.
Central to Owen’s thesis is that Will Smith’s behaviour signifies a new nadir in modern masculinity. As Owens states:
Through all of these jokes and rampant commentary that’s being offered, there’s a conversation that is being neglected. A truer assessment of what we’ve observed on that Oscar’s stage…
We saw an incredibly broken man and the residual product of a directionless society that is filled with them. The kind of society that produces men that look to their more domineering wives, with their tales planted firmly between their legs, for instruction on what and who they ought to be in every room.
The truth is that off the big screen Will Smith has been spiritually annihilated by his wife. Don’t forget that it was Jade Pinkett-Smith who openly shared with the world how she cheated on her husband, remember? And with who? Her son’s friend! Yeah, Jada carried out an extra marital affair with a young man who was at first friends with her son. Then she dragged her puppy-dog husband out onto the world stage and told the public while making him sit through it, listen to it and agree that she had the right to do what she did.
After showing evidence of the said ‘transgression’ (Smith’s word about his wife’s adultery), Owens goes on to remark:
The take-away from this interview was that they, together, represented some newer, more progressive form of what it means to be in a marriage, which is to say, not being in a real marriage at all.
Will Smith is someone today who should be pitied. Not prosecuted in a court room or even persecuted in the public eye, but pitied by every person who has the clarity to see how our society — as sponsored by the perversion of these Hollywood types — is falling apart.
Will Smith is what Jordan Peterson cautions against. He’s nothing more than a casualty in the great war against masculinity.
Owens has put her finger on something that most other pundits have overlooked. Smith’s violent outburst against Rock is emblematic of western society’s larger war against marriage and masculinity. Significantly, Smith is more outraged at someone poking fun at his wife’s lack of hair than her absence of morals. In fact, this clip shows, both Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith laughed at her well-known infidelity earlier in the evening.
While it is never OK to joke about someone’s disability — in this case, Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia — there’s something appropriate in Smith’s wife having her head shaved. Interestingly, according to the Bible (i.e. 1 Corinthians 11) a woman’s hair acts not just as a ‘covering’ but as a sign of her complimentary covenant relationship with her husband. Indeed, the apostle Paul says that without it, she should have her hair cut or shaved off to signify her loose sexual behaviour.
There’s no way of getting around it. There is an underlying correspondence between a covering of hair and one’s marital relationship. Understood in this light, Chris Rock’s joke about Pinkett-Smith appearing in G.I. Jane 2 was entirely appropriate. As Owens herself concluded:
G.I. Jane by the way, for those of you who haven’t seen the 1997 movie, tells the story of a woman being integrated into the all-male space of the United States military. It is the ‘inspired’ tale of the loss of one woman’s femininity to meet the gruelling physical demands of the more masculine environment that she finds herself in.
And so, perhaps not the punchline that Chris Rock had intended, I have to agree that, yes, Jada Pinkett would be the perfect individual to play role in the re-make. Not because of her hair obviously, but because of her success in stripping her husband of any trace understanding of what it means to be a real man.
Mark Powell is Senior Minister at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Hobart.
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