Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Will Smith 'Perpetuated Stereotypes' About Black Americans

Following-up, "Academy Awards Condemns Will Smith and Begins Formal Review (VIDEO)."


This was one of the first things I said to my wife as I was following this story on Twitter on Monday (like everyone else). 

After almost a decade of anti-police protests and Black Lives Matter riots, chaos, and destruction --- not to mention the epic surge in crime over the last year or two, especially black motherfucker "smash and grab" attacks -- people see African-Americans as violent thugs. 

And why wouldn't they? 

Will Smith is one of the top stars in Hollywood, of any race. He would have given a triumphant acceptance speech for his Best Actor win but instead got up there to credit the Lord for how wonderful he is, how deserving, beyond criticism of his actions, or whatever. He for sure did not apologize to Chris Rock until yesterday, and that was on Instagram. I don't know, but if you did someone bad, slapping him on live television with tens of millions around the world watching, hurting him and humiliating him, the decent godly thing to do is say you're sorry in person, or at least by a phone call.

That Will Smith could not do, and it pained me in the moment to think how he was simply confirming so many bigoted prejudices against blacks. 

You may not care, and I understand, but it's a tragic moment for black Americans, and the country as a whole. My dad was black and he spent most of his adult life trying not only to protect himself against racism but to defeat the stereotypes that coincided with violence and murder of people of his race. (My dad was highly educated, cultured, and professional. But he told me many stories. He was born in St. Louis in 1913 and lived through Jim Crow segregation, first in Missouri and then in Chicago and New York City, where he met my mom.)

When I was just 5-years-old I saw Lew Alcindor at the UCLA barber shop, where my dad used to take me for haircuts. This was of course before he converted to Islam in 1971, taking the name Kareen Abdul-Jabbar. Seen by many as the greatest basketball player of all time, his comments certainly carry weight. 

As his Substack, "Will Smith Did a Bad, Bad Thing"

Slapping Chris Rock was also a blow to men, women, the entertainment industry, and the Black community.

When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community.

That’s a lot to unpack. Let’s start with the facts: Rock made a reference to Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, as looking like Demi Moore in GI Jane, in which Moore had shaved her head. Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss. Ok, I can see where the Smiths might not have found that joke funny. But Hollywood awards shows are traditionally a venue where much worse things have been said about celebrities as a means of downplaying the fact that it’s basically a gathering of multimillionaires giving each other awards to boost business so they can make even more money.

The Smiths could have reacted by politely laughing along with the joke or by glowering angrily at Rock. Instead, Smith felt the need to get up in front of his industry peers and millions of people around the world, hit another man, then return to his seat to bellow: “Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth.” Twice.

Some have romanticized Smith’s actions as that of a loving husband defending his wife. Comedian Tiffany Haddish, who starred in the movie Girls Trip with Pinkett Smith, praised Smith’s actions: “[F]or me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.”

Actually, it was the opposite. Smith’s slap was also a slap to women. If Rock had physically attacked Pinkett Smith, Smith’s intervention would have been welcome. Or if he’d remained in his seat and yelled his post-slap threat, that would have been unnecessary, but understandable. But by hitting Rock, he announced that his wife was incapable of defending herself—against words. From everything I’d seen of Pinkett Smith over the years, she’s a very capable, tough, smart woman who can single-handedly take on a lame joke at the Academy Awards show.

This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor least they swoon from the vapors. If he was really doing it for his wife, and not his own need to prove himself, he might have thought about the negative attention this brought on them, much harsher than the benign joke. That would have been truly defending and respecting her. This “women need men to defend them” is the same justification currently being proclaimed by conservatives passing laws to restrict abortion and the LGBTQ+ community.

Worse than the slap was Smith’s tearful, self-serving acceptance speech in which he rambled on about all the women in the movie King Richard that he’s protected. Those who protect don’t brag about it in front of 15 million people. They just do it and shut up. You don’t do it as a movie promotion claiming how you’re like the character you just won an award portraying. By using these women to virtue signal, he was in fact exploiting them to benefit himself. But, of course, the speech was about justifying his violence. Apparently, so many people need Smith’s protection that occasionally it gets too much and someone needs to be smacked.

What is the legacy of Smith’s violence? He’s brought back the Toxic Bro ideal of embracing Kobra Kai teachings of “might makes right” and “talk is for losers.” Let’s not forget that this macho John Wayne philosophy was expressed in two movies in which Wayne spanked grown women to teach them a lesson. Young boys—especially Black boys—watching their movie idol not just hit another man over a joke, but then justify it as him being a superhero-like protector, are now much more prone to follow in his childish footsteps. Perhaps the saddest confirmation of this is the tweet from Smith’s child Jaden: “And That’s How We Do It.” 
The Black community also takes a direct hit from Smith...

Keep reading.