BAFTA: We would have handled Will Smith's slap differently, you know

BAFTA: We would have handled Will Smith's slap differently, you know
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) executives offered up their opinions of how its organization would have handed the Will Smith slap. They claim that if such a thing was to happen at one of their ceremonies, the person doing the slapping would be escorted out of the building and not allowed back inside. Period.


It’s a good thing Will Smith didn’t slap Chris Rock during a BAFTA gala. If such a thing happened before an actor was given an award, as Smith was after his live slapping performance, he would not be allowed back in the building to receive the award.

“They would be removed from the ceremony,” said Sara Putt, chair of BAFTA’s television committee and deputy chair of BAFTA, when asked what BAFTA would do if put in a similar situation. Putt noted that there would be no opportunity for the individual in question to later collect any award or give a speech, as Smith was controversially allowed to do at the Dolby Theatre. “They would not be in the buildings, so they would not physically be able to collect their award,” she said.

Emma Baehr, BAFTA’s executive director of awards and content, added, “We do not tolerate violence of any kind,” noting that BAFTA had been leading with the British Film Institute on bullying harassment guidelines.

Concluded Putt: “It’s just a complete red line for us.”

The Brits mean business. Their no-nonsense approach to keeping such events civil and somewhat dignified is admirable, given the coarseness exhibited in behavior today. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a guest that is misbehaving to be removed from the party, especially when that bad behavior includes physical violence. Many Americans agree. Unfortunately the executives behind the Oscars are too cowardly to do the right thing. They are afraid of cancel culture and of being called racists. Never mind the incident involved two black men.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is launching an inquiry into the whole kerfuffle. They have to do something, right? They let him sit there and then collect a top award – Best Actor. People were comforting him after his outburst, not Chris Rock. The whole thing was crazy.

Bill Maher compared Smith’s actions to Twitter outrage. It starts one way and ends another. In this case, Smith laughed at Rock’s joke even though it was a poke at his wife, but then he quickly went the other way when he saw his wife’s reaction. He over-corrected by interrupting the ceremony and physically assaulting his longtime friend. Smith and his wife have been the subject of numerous stories about their open marriage and leading anything but a ‘normal’ lifestyle. Perhaps he just snapped, say his defenders. Maher doesn’t buy it.

“I could make a case that we’ve all be under a lot of pressure and a lot of emotion — and I understand a lot of emotion running through him,” Maher, 66, told TMZ.

“But that was just out of line and it re-enforced the idea that jokes are the enemy.”

“It was sort of like cancel culture encapsulated,” Maher said.

“Because at first you saw he was laughing at the joke, right? This is what happens a lot with cancel stuff. At first: ‘Oh, it’s funny.’ And then you look around: ‘Oh wait, I’m supposed to be offended.’ And then there’s the [subsequent] overreaction. He was like the Twitter mob come alive,” Maher continued.

Maher made the point that Smith’s response mirrored the emotionally charged thought process of any so-called social justice warrior on Twitter — initially finding the joke privately funny but then taking offense.


Maher is right. That is exactly what happened. The Hollywood elite are very much concerned about being canceled on social media. Smith should have waited and addressed his friend’s joke in private with him but instead he got carried away.

In case you are wondering what New York Mayor Eric Adams thinks about Smith having to return his Oscar (he won’t have to) , Adams is against it.

During an appearance on Fox 5, Adams explained that though “violence is never the answer” Smith should not be judged too harshly on his actions when he failed to control his “passion.”

“Violence is never the answer. It’s a painful moment,” he told “Good Day New York.”

“But you know, sometimes when you’re dealing with [an] illness of a loved one, you become emotional,” he added. “And sometimes we have to think through our actions and not react through our passion.”

Asked by host Rosanna Scotto if the “King Richard” actor should be forced to give back the Best Actor award he won that evening, the tough-on-crime retired NYPD captain replied, “I don’t think he should.”

Sorry, Mr. Mayor. We don’t excuse physical violence because of “passion”. Good Lord. And, he wasn’t dealing with his wife’s medical condition. He was over-correcting an initial reaction to a joke at a time when the couple are frequently gossiped about in the tabloids. It is what it is. You don’t get to wax poetically about peace and love and being kind after you’ve slapped the snot out of a friend (or anyone) before the world. Spare us the virtue-signaling. Next he’ll be lecturing about climate change before hopping on a private jet.


The Academy won’t punish Smith in any significant way. They may even quietly embrace the publicity and roll with it. According to a new poll, the slap may be their answer to the humiliation of really low ratings in recent years. People now say they may tune in next year just in case something like the slap happens again.

In a new OnePoll survey of 1,000 Americans, 63% said they expect to watch next year’s Oscars because of the Will Smith and Chris Rock feud.

Nearly one in 10 people surveyed only tuned into Hollywood’s biggest night post-slap, according to the poll, as news circulated online, bolstering ratings.

While people everywhere weighed in on the baffling altercation, others were quick to create memes and crack jokes online, making the buzzworthy moment even more of a smash.

The results of the poll also showed that the slap was a hit, now topping the list of most shocking Oscars moments, with 35% of the votes. In second place was the 2017 award for Best Picture, with 19% of the votes, when “La La Land” was mistakenly given the award.

BAFTA can’t be happy with that poll’s results. I still think that if there is a winner here, it is Chris Rock.

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