Whoopi Goldberg: We didn't ask Will Smith to leave because he might have made a scene

Didn’t she tell us a few days ago that the Academy didn’t want to remove Smith because it feared the racial politics involved in kicking out a black star 20 minutes before he won Best Actor?


Today she says he was asked to leave but the Academy didn’t insist upon it, not wanting to risk having to forcibly remove him in the middle of a live broadcast if he resisted.

Which is it? Did they not want to deny a black A-lister his moment in the sun or did they worry that he was going to pitch a fit if they called security on him?

Or does Whoopi just not know what’s going on? Remember, according to TMZ’s sources, Smith wasn’t asked to leave. She seems to have bad information. Watch, then read on.

According to a new report from CNN, the claim that Smith was asked to leave is sort of true and sort of false. No one from the Academy asked him to leave — directly. But:

In the moments following Will Smith’s stunning on-stage slap of Chris Rock during Sunday’s Oscars telecast, members of the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences leadership “firmly asked” Will Smith’s publicist for the actor to leave the ceremony, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Smith “was firmly asked by way of his publicist to leave the Oscars. He refused and that was communicated back to Academy leadership,” the person said.


As you saw, Whoopi’s also miffed at the charge that “Hollywood elites” gave Smith a standing ovation 20 minutes after he assaulted Chris Rock. Not all elites!, she notes. Which, fine.

But most did. She even makes excuses for them, claiming that they were caught up in the moment and going along with the rest of the crowd — before insisting that she wouldn’t have stood. If she has the moral wherewithal to resist, why is it unfair to fault the rest of them collectively for lacking that wherewithal?

Real talk: Will Smith will pay no price from the elites in his industry for having humiliated Rock in front of the world even though it’s a glaring example of a celebrity acting with perceived impunity due to his wealth and fame. He didn’t get a standing O because the crowd approved of what he did to Rock, he got a standing O because he’s a Member of the Club and powerful enough that few in the business would want to get on the wrong side of him by publicly snubbing him. The fact that the request to leave was communicated to him through his publicist rather than the Academy sending people to his seat to ask him is proof enough. Even the producers who wanted him out were reluctant to confront him directly about it.

You know who wasn’t asked whether Smith should have to leave, incidentally? Chris Rock.

More real talk: Smith didn’t slap Rock to defend Jada Smith’s honor. He did it to defend his own honor. “He thought more about how he was looking in that moment than what was the right thing to do,” said Jim Carrey of Smith’s reaction, aptly. Let me stress: How he was looking, not how his wife was looking. Smith wasn’t worried that anyone would think less of his wife because of a weak joke about her baldness. He was worried that people would call him a cuck if he didn’t display some violent indignation.


And for good reason.

Rock is obviously the chief victim here but there were indirect victims too. He was out there to introduce the award for Best Documentary, which he gamely proceeded to do after being slapped. But no one was paying attention at that point. Everyone, whether inside the theater or watching on TV, was too stunned by what had just happened to go on with the show (except Rock, ironically). The winners of the Best Documentary Oscar ended up being a total afterthought. And they aren’t happy about it:

“I think what Will did was selfish. It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs,” [Joseph] Patel tweeted. “And it robbed Summer of Soul and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film.”

The producer added that he feels bad for director and producer Questlove (whose real name is Ahmir Thompson), his fellow producers and their whole team. “I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us,” he added. “We were in shock walking to the stage – not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened.”

Smith got a standing ovation and the full attention of the crowd during his acceptance speech after assaulting a guy. Patel and his co-producers were denied that unfairly because of what he did. I don’t think they should rescind his Oscar for slapping Rock but banning him from the ceremony for life feels like an appropriate punishment. If you can’t control yourself in a setting where you know you and your family might be the subject of a joke, you can’t be there.


Oh, and Rock should host next year. Imagine the material he’ll have.

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