Chris Rock waited until the final moments of his latest Netflix comedy special to address last year’s infamous Oscars slap when Will Smith walked up to the stage and hit the comic across the face after Rock told a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“You all know what happened to me, getting smacked by ‘Suge’ Smith. Everybody knows, everybody f–king knows,” Rock said, derisively comparing Smith to Death Row Records co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight. “Yes, it happened, like a year ago – f–king I got smacked at the f–king Oscars by this motherf–ker. People are like, ‘Did it hurt?’ It still hurts. I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears.”
While presenting Best Documentary at the Oscars last year, Rock joked that Pinkett Smith, who attended the ceremony with her head shaved due to having alopecia, looked like she couldn’t wait for a sequel to “G.I. Jane,” the 1997 movie where star Demi Moore appeared with her head shaved. In response to the barb, Smith shouted profanities at Rock from the audience before walking up and hitting the comic in the face.
Following the Oscars, where Smith won Best Actor for his performance in “King Richard,” the “Bad Boys” star resigned from the academy and was later suspended from attending academy events for a period of 10 years. He also apologized numerous times. Rock, however, kept mostly quiet. He didn’t publicly address the incident in interviews or through social media but did begin to joke about Smith during his stand-up comedy shows around the country.
Speaking on Saturday night for his Netflix special “Selective Outrage,” which the service streamed live in first for the platform, Rock said he never gave thought to use the assault to score points from the public. “I’m not a victim, baby. You will never see me on Oprah [Winfrey] or Gayle [King], crying. You will never see it. Never gonna happen,” Rock said, before mimicking someone crying, “‘I couldn’t believe it, and I love Men in Black.” No, it’s never gonna happen. No. F–k that sh–. I took that hit like [boxer Manny] Pacquiao, motherf–ker.”
Bringing it back to whether getting hit by Smith “hurt,” Rock said in no uncertain terms that it did. “First of all, I know you can’t tell on camera, but Will Smith is significantly bigger than me. We are not the same size. We are not,” Rock said. “Will Smith does movies with his shirt off. You’ve never seen me do a movie with my shirt off. If I’m in a movie getting open-heart surgery, I got on a sweater.”
Continuing with the bit, Rock joked, “Will Smith played Muhammad Ali in a movie. You think I auditioned for that part? He played Muhammad Ali, I played Pookie in ‘New Jack City.’ I played a piece of corn in ‘Pootie Tang.’ Even in animation this motherf–ker is bigger, I’m a zebra, he’s a shark. What the f–k, man.”
Rock titled his special “Selective Outrage,” a reference to a trend he spotted in society of people picking and choosing who and what to be angry with on a given day. Rock said he thought Smith himself was a proprietor of “selective outrage” because lashing out at the comic had less to do with the “G.I. Jane” joke and more to do with Smith’s personal life.
“I didn’t have any ‘entanglements.’ I did not have an ‘entanglement,’” Rock said, a reference to Pinkett Smith’s relationship with Alsina August, which the actress confirmed in an episode of “Red Table Talk” opposite Smith back in 2020.
“As time went on I got into a different kind of entanglement with August,” Pinkett Smith said to Smith at the time.
“His wife was f–king her son’s friend,” Rock said on Saturday. “Now, I normally would not talk about this sh–. But for some reason, this [N-word] put that sh– on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that lowdown. We all been cheated on, everybody in here been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television.”
According to Rock, following the “Red Table Talk” episode, he reached out to Smith to offer some “condolences,” especially since, in Rock’s estimation, “everybody in the world called him a bitch.”
“Everybody called him a bitch, called his wife a predator. Everybody. Everybody. And who did he hit? Me. A [N-word] he knows he could beat. That is some bitch ass sh–,” Rock said.
Rock and Pinkett Smith shared some Oscars history before last year’s incident. Back in 2016, Pinkett Smith called for a boycott of the Oscars ceremony after the academy failed to nominate any Black performers – including Smith, who was in contention for “Concussion.”
Rock addressed Pinkett Smith’s protest of the ceremony during his monologue in 2016. “People went mad! Spike [Lee] got mad. [Al] Sharpton got mad and Jada went mad, Will went mad. Everybody went mad! It’s crazy!” Rock said on the Oscars stage in 2016. “Jada went mad. Jada says she’s not coming. Protesting. I’m like, ‘Ain’t she on a TV show?’ Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna‘s panties. I wasn’t invited!”
On Saturday, Rock brought up the 2016 Oscars, claiming Pinkett Smith said he should have quit the show, something to which he took great offense.
“She starts it, I finished it,” Rock said of Pinkett Smith. “That’s what the f–k happened. Nobody is picking on this bitch. She started this sh–. Nobody was picking on her. She said of me, a f–king grown ass man should quit his job because her husband didn’t get nominated for ‘Concussion.’ And then this [N-word] gives me a f–king concussion.” (In a video posted at the time, Pinkett Smith said of Rock, “Chris, I will not be at the Academy Awards and I won’t be watching but I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend. Good luck.”)
Rock said being hit by Smith left him feeling conflicted because he was such a fan of the performer.
“I love Will Smith my whole life…. He’s made some great movies. I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life. I root for this motherf–ker, okay? And now I watch ‘Emancipation’ just to see him get whooped,” Rock said, referencing the Apple drama about slavery that came out last year.
“Got me rootin’ for massa, okay?” Rock added. “‘Now hit him again, massa. Hit him again. You missed a spot massa, you missed a spot.’”
He concluded by addressing why he didn’t do anything to retaliate against Smith during the Oscars itself. “A lot of people go, ‘Chris, how come you didn’t do nothing back? How come you didn’t go back that night?’ Because I got parents. That’s why,” he said. “I got parents, and you know what my parents taught me: Don’t fight in front of white people.” The comedian then dropped his microphone as the crowd cheered and the special came to an end.
Neither Smith nor Pinkett Smith commented on the Rock in the immediate aftermath of his Netflix event on Saturday night, but Smith has apologized before. In a statement released on the Monday after the Academy Awards last year, Smith wrote, “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. 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. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
Speaking to Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” in November, Smith’s first televised interview following the slap, the actor said, “That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. There’s many nuances and complexities to it, you know. But at the end of the day, I lost it, you know?”
Asked what he learned following the assault, Smith added, “I guess what I would say is you just never know what somebody is going through. … I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all, I would just say you’re asking what did I learn. It’s that, we just got to be nice to each other, man. It’s hard. I guess the thing that was most painful for me is I took my hard and made it hard for other people. I understood the idea when they say hurt people hurt people.”
“Selective Outrage” is streaming now on Netflix.
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