Whoopi Goldberg on Will Smith: We didn't want to remove a black man five minutes before he won the Oscar

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

It’s a thousand percent true that if they had kicked Will Smith out of the theater for slapping Chris Rock only to see him declared Best Actor 20 minutes later, wokesters everywhere would be accusing them today of having unfairly denied a black actor his moment in the sun.

It’s also a thousand percent insane. We don’t know how the Academy would have reacted to a white actor slapping a white comedian onstage but I hope they would have removed him immediately. Certainly they would have removed him if he had slapped a black comedian, given the ugly racial politics of an assault like that.

Consider this further support for my point yesterday that there’s no way Smith will be stripped of his Oscar for what he did. If the Academy is so sensitive to criticism about race that they wouldn’t eject someone who committed assault on camera against a presenter, it’s unimaginable that they’d penalize Smith by revoking his award when they’ve never done that to numerous white Oscar winners guilty of much graver sins.

Skip to 5:30 here for Whoopi Goldberg’s comments about the Oscars, then read on.

Virtually every conceivable take about The Slap has been ventilated by now but I’ll flag two that struck me as thoughtful. One is Jim Carrey observing that this silly little moment may not seem so silly to Chris Rock. He handled it like a champ, not even pausing to rub his cheek after it happened, but being on the receiving end of that smack will forever be part of his public profile now.

“I was sickened by the standing ovation [for Smith],” the “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” actor told CBS’s Gayle King. “I felt like Hollywood is just spineless en masse.”…

On Monday, King pointed out that anyone else besides Smith would’ve probably been escorted out after the assault or even arrested. Carrey said Smith “should have been,” but that Rock — who declined to press charges — simply didn’t want the hassle.

“I’d have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million,” Carrey said. “That video is gonna be there forever. It’s gonna be ubiquitous. You know, that insult is gonna last a very long time.”

The other is this trenchant point about an aspect of the Smiths’ marriage that I didn’t mention when writing about the incident yesterday:

That’s a reference to the fact that the Smiths have an open marriage, a confounding wrinkle in the post-Oscars narrative spun by some that Will Smith displayed admirable old-fashioned chivalry in standing up for his wife. The Smiths aren’t old-fashioned. And judging by what he told GQ in an interview last year, it’s Jada Smith more so than him who wanted it that way:

“Jada never believed in conventional marriage.… Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection,” Smith told me. “We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

Did he erupt at Rock because he’s never been as cool with the idea of other men taking liberties with his wife as he lets on?

I thought most Americans would come down firmly on Carrey’s side in all this by concluding that what Smith did was terrible. And according to two new polls today, they have — sort of. YouGov finds that a solid majority believes Smith slapping Rock was wrong:

Advantage: Rock? Not exactly. David Shor conducted a poll that asked people who they thought was more wrong, Smith or Rock. Advantage: Smith.

The age and gender splits are interesting. I would have guessed that more conservative groups, like men and older adults, would have sided with Smith on defending his wife while more liberal ones, like women and younger adults, would have backed Rock in believing that violence isn’t the answer. Nope. Just the opposite. Maybe women appreciated Smith’s chivalry while young adults thought that Rock’s goof on Jada Smith’s medical condition was so offensive that a little minor battery was warranted. Goes to show that not quite everything is divided along predictable partisan lines in America 2022. Just most things.