Comedian Chris Rock finally spoke out about what has largely been dubbed “the slap heard around the world” nearly a year after actor Will Smith slapped the comedian on stage at the 2022 Oscars.
“I’m going to try to do a show tonight without offending anyone. I’m going to do my best because you never know who might be triggered,” Rock said during the opening of his live streamed show in Baltimore. “People always say , that words hurt. Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.”
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In the recently released Netflix special, “Selective Outrage,” Rock fired back during his stand-up routine and shared his thoughts on the incident. He said he’s “not a victim, honey.”
“You all know what happened to me when I got smashed by Suge Smith,” Rock said. “It still hurts. I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears. But I’m not a victim, baby. You’ll never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying… I took it like Pacquiao.”
During last year’s Academy Awards, Rock, who was presenting an award, made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. In a tense and shocking onstage altercation, Smith shocked the crowd by walking onto the Oscars stage and punching the presenter.
Later in the evening, Smith apologized to the Academy and the other nominees in a tearful speech after accepting the Oscar for best actor for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, in the biopic “King Richard, but did not mention or apologize straight to Rock.
After that night, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the organization behind the Academy Awards – and the Academy banned the actor from any Academy event or program, including the Academy Awards, for 10 years.
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Smith later directly addressed the incident in a video posted to social media and apologized to Rock. At the time, Smith said he had reached out to Rock, who responded that he was “not ready to talk.”
“So I want to say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” Smith said in the video. “My behavior was unacceptable and I’ll be here when you’re ready to talk.”
In his latest special, Rock appeared to respond to Smith’s apology.
“I love Will Smith, my whole life,” Rock said. “I’ve rooted for Will Smith my whole life … now I watch ‘Emancipation’ just to see him get whipped.”
Rock also said people have since asked him, “Why didn’t you do something back (against Smith) that night?”
“Because I have parents,” the comedian said. “You know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”
The 95th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2023 at the Dolby Theater at Ovation Hollywood and will be broadcast live on ABC as well as streamed by subscription on Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV and Fubo TV.