Dr. Patrick Johnson, husband of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, consoles her after the third abusive day of her Senate confirmation hearing. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Purported Vessel For Love Defends Family By Assaulting Guy Who Tells Bad Joke

If you've understandably stayed in your cave of late: Claiming this week's mantle of Poster Boy for Toxic Masculinity, A-lister Will Smith stalked onstage at the Oscars and "smacked the shit" out of Chris Rock for a tasteless joke about Smith's wife Jada - and trash-talked him - thus acting out the angry Black man trope on live TV and upending the night. Then he won an Oscar. In a tearful speech, he said "love will make you do crazy things," which coincidentally echoes every abuser ever. Bottom line for the ensuing Hollywood kerfuffle: "Will Smith needs to stop slapping people."

In case you've understandably stayed in your cave of late: Claiming this week's mantle of Poster Boy for Toxic Masculinity, Hollywood A-lister and newly if dubiously minted Oscar winner Will Smith acted out the angry Black man trope to millions on live TV and upended Hollywood's big night when hestalked onstage at Sunday's Academy Awards and "smacked the shit out of me," in the words of a stunned Chris Rock, after Rock told a graceless joke about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett-Smith. The eruption came after Rock referenced Demi Moore's shaved-head character in the movie G.I. Jane in a shout-out to Pinkett-Smith, who's been open about dealing with alopecia, a hair loss disorder that affects mostly black women. She rolled her eyes at the joke; Smith at first laughed, then thought better, or worse, of it and stormed the stage, fuming. The star of "King Richard" then marched back to his seat and heatedly yelled twice at Rock, "Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth!"

After the slap heard round the world, at least in privileged quarters, the ceremony limped on until the equally surreal moment when Smith won Best Actor award for what some deemed his "screenwashed" portrayal of Serena and Venus Williams' tough, possibly abusive father Richard. In a tearful, rambling acceptance speech, Smith called Williams "a fierce defender of his family" - just like him, see? - claimed he wanted to be "a vessel for love," apologized to the Academy for punching out Rock (who he didn't apologize to), and offered a cringey "Love will make you do crazy things," thus echoing every domestic abuser ever. The audience incomprehensibly cheered, the Academy lamely declared it "does not condone violence," and Smith eagerly went on to a glitzy after-party where he achieved peak narcissism by exuberantly dancing and singing to his own songs while clutching his Oscar. Meanwhile many, many people were like, wait, what?

"Privilege is being able to commit an assault on live TV, return to your seat, and accept an Oscar like nothing ever happened," was one of 12 gazillion tweets on the subject. Also: "He acted in the heat of the moment? So did my boyfriend every time he smacked me....The fact he wasn't perp walked immediately but given an award and standing ovation tells you all you need to know about Hollywood...For kids watching at home: A tasteless joke does not entitle you to assault another person....Will Smith needs to stop slapping people." Many found his self-serving speech and "benevolent sexism" as bad as his assault; after ruining the night for Serena, Venus and many others with his "look at me and my big balls" moment, he gaslighted, used his movie character to justify himself, and hid behind every abuser's excuse: "He blew it." Monday, he sought redemption; he called his behavior "unacceptable and inexcusable," declared, "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," and apologized to everyone, adding, "I am a work in progress." Rock also said, "Last night I crossed a line I shouldn't have" and asked for forgiveness.

But given both Smith and Rock are now in their 50s and "fighty, punchy (men) have been doing it this way for 200,000 years," some women wondered how long they'd/we'd have to "watch people with penises argue about what a woman is while behaving in the most stupid way possible, then getting all the money and gold statues." Susie Boniface imagined a world where the camera didn't reflexively follow only the men doing dumb things, where Will Smith instead walked out of the Oscars to take a stand, or asked his wife what she wanted him to do, if anything, or advocated for those with alopecia, or scrutinized "the many ways men are taught to be toxic to women, children and each other." Some of them, anyway. Last week, it was elsewhere noted, another devoted husband probably "really wanted to kick some ass." In contrast, after four days of abuse aimed at Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson, her husband Dr. Patrick Johnson was there for her, cool socks and all. Hey guys: Be like Patrick, please.

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