The, “Slap heard ‘round the world,” is stunningly controversial. At Take Ten With Will Luden the only stunning part is that there is any debate at all. This is a disturbing example of how so many are coming to believe that being “dissed” justifies violence in response. And justified to the point where that violence is to be praised and emulated. Good job, Will and Jada.
Understanding how to react to incidents like this is part of our overall Revolution 2.0™ goal of creating better lives for ourselves, our communities and for America.
This is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
N.B. This is a complete blog, also acting as a signpost, pointing you to this episode on both the new Revolution 2.0™ YouTube channel, and where you enjoy your podcasts, e.g., Apple, Google and Spotify.
After initially laughing at Chris Rock’s tying Jada’s shaved head to Demi Moore’s shaved head in the movie G. I. Jane, Will noticed that his wife was upset, so he reversed course, walked on the stage, and hit Rock with a hard, roundhouse slap. Then walked off the stage with a clearly smug, self-satisfied look.
But that was not enough. He needed to yell, “Keep my wife’s name out yo fucking mouth.” Using street justification, grammar and vocabulary. Not done even then, he yelled it again. All while Jada was staring down Rock with a, “Take that,” look.
Not long afterward, when Smith received his Oscar as Best Actor, the entire hall erupted with a standing ovation.
There is no difference between Smith’s violent reaction to being dissed and the many other examples we see all too often, with most of us being highly critical of the violence in those circumstances. Here are some examples:
1. The many videos on news channels and the Internet where a customer in a fast food joint reacts to how he is being treated, and begins to pummel one or more workers.
2. Passengers at airports or on the plane itself, physically teeing off on workers over perceived slights in anything from delayed flights to seating position to masks.
3. antifa militants, many hiding their faces, getting physical with people they disagree with politically.
4. Students getting physical with teachers, each other and invited speakers over a variety of slights.
All of these, and oh so many more, are variations of being dissed. Here is a definition of dissed from Oxford Languages: “speak disrespectfully to or criticize.” If you follow Smith’s example, everytime you feel you are being spoken to disrespectfully or are being criticized, you would just haul off and belt that person. Tragically, the world is heading that way even without the justification and encouragement from the rich and famous.
When Ricky Gervais famously carved up virtually the entire group of Academy Award winners, nominees and audience, he was far more brutal than Chris Rock. Attendees like Tom Hanks registered disapproval, but no one stormed the stage. Famous roasters like Don Rickles would, in person and personally, rip apart the powerful, wealthy and famous, with nothing but riotous laughter in response.
No Safe Spaces, a First Amendment site: “Smith’s violence is an implied threat to all comedians who now have to worry that an edgy or insulting joke might be met with violence. Good thing Don Rickles, Bill Burr, or Ricky Gervais weren’t there. As comedian Kathy Griffin, yes that Kathy Griffin, tweeted: ‘Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters’”
Why the violence from Smith, and why the number of people who think he did not only the right thing, but the noble thing. Noble? I my analysis, I was initially going to steer away from the racial aspect, but others have brought that up for me.
1. Tiffany Haddish, a Black actor and comedian who starred with Jada Pinkett Smith in the blockbuster movie Girls Trip, told People: “When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife, that meant so much to me.”
2. Jemele Hill, a black sports journalist who famously politicizes her coverage, mostly with her racially centered view of sports–and the world. “But I can’t help but notice the disproportionate outrage that many people in white America—and many in the Hollywood elite—are showing.”
3. Maia Niguel Hoskins, a black writer, activist and professor writing in Forbes Magazine, “This is about a much larger systemic issue rooted in white supremacist culture designed to police the behavior of Blacks amongst the who’s who in Hollywood and beyond. Respectability politics suggest that equity and fair treatment require that Black people — both inside and outside of Hollywood — conduct ourselves in a manner deemed acceptable to whites.”
Racially disproportionate justification and praise for Smith’s actions, yes, but they are not alone. A poll conducted by Blue Rose Research, a well-known Democratic pollster, found that a higher percentage of Americans ultimately see Chris Rock in the wrong after Will Smith slapped him in the face.
Context: Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that causes loss of body hair. My research shows that Rock did not know that when he made the joke. For the sake of argument, let’s say that Rock did know, and then delivered what could charitably be called an unfunny joke in very poor taste. Even that would not come close to justifying Smith’s hard slap on national TV.
This is a good place to hear from those who say things like, “I don’t condone violence, but Will was defending his woman.” If you agree with that, then you do condone violence. You just said that you do. And if a perceived insult is justification for violence, what would the appropriate response have been if Chris Rock had, say, slapped Ms. Smith? Gunfire?
Jada Pinkett Smith did not comment amid the furor and public debate until Tuesday, March 29th, posting to Instagram: “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it”
Jada, what we need is for people like you and your husband to stop overreacting when feeling dissed, and to encourage others to follow that different example–not the one you two are setting. Use your wealth, fame and good looks to support actual healing. Lasting healing. As an excuse, your husband said, “Love makes you do crazy things.” No, love does not make anyone do anything. We can choose to do crazy things for love, but it is a choice. Remember, between stimulus and response is choice. There is always a choice. Help your husband to make the right choices. That would be healing. Follow another famous person’s example. Maria Shriver Tweeted, “We should never get to a place where we sit and watch a movie star hit someone on global television then, moments later, get a standing ovation while talking about love.”
We all have the personal responsibility to make the right choices, even if that requires us to swallow our emotions in that moment. Speaking of personal responsibility, this principle does not stand alone; the two main and interdependent principles at Revolution 2.0 are:
1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:1.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
This is Will Luden. We’ll talk again soon.