I’ve had it in my mind to stop in here and do a post or two for a while now, but with the world being full of Trumpyness and Putin going full-bore psychopathic despot, I could not bring myself to spread more of that brand of sunshine around the interwebs. But then, just when I needed it, something that was sufficiently disappointing enough to merit my attention, yet also stupidly vapid enough to twist my whimsy, popped into the, er, zeitgeist: Will Smith, that stalest of Fresh Princelings, busted up Hollywoodland with the the bitch-slap heard round the world. Or at least all the way from the San Fernando Valley to Bel Air. And I missed it. Shazam.
Not to worry, Smith’s assault of the perpetually wry Chris Rock has been dominating the news, putting Putin and his inhumane, but comparatively petty (by Hollywood standards) war crimes in the back seat for a day, Smith’s preschool-style swat overshadowing thermobaric bombs that melt flesh and bone, and white phosphorus munitions that merely set bone and flesh on fire. When it comes to violence, we humans are a fickle breed indeed.
It seems timely to take stock in just what the Academy Awards is–are?–a collection of performers who, we are informed, are allegedly notorious and very much more important than riff raff like me. Or you, frankly. They gather to pat each other on the back, working to distract from their own vanity, vapidity and seething, mutual contempt.
It seems reasonable to insert a comedian, or several, into this brine of jealousy and disappointment and task them to poke fun to get the masses tittering. Because, you know, schadenfreude. That’s kind of the shtick, right? So who among them knew that the Fresh Prince’s wife had alopecia? Not me. And, it seems, not Chris Rock either.
Today, the news accounts of the incident are inescapable. Amid varied arguments before and against the assault on Rock, nobody has mentioned what strikes me most: the gross self-absorption of Will Smith in presuming that Rock, or any of us, knows his wife has a immune disorder. I guess, in Smith’s world, it seems natural that everyone else is fully invested in the health and welfare of his family, and that comedians should not only be saturated by all the details of the lives of the famously self-important entertainers, but deeply responsive to the heightened sensitivities of said entertainers. In fact, they would do well to distribute surveys before the show to gauge those vulnerabilities, lest any light-hearted bits offend a Big Star’s delicate sensibilities.
Worse still is Smith’s prideful hubris, bringing himself to tears while recounting his violent awesomeness in a speech that droned on and on, remembering (whole minutes later) how heroic he was to sucker punch a guy half his size, how loyal, how regal and just. The offense was real, of course, but merited a face to face private exchange, a “Dude, that sucked.” And a “Damn, I’m sorry” response. But this is what we are, and why we live the way we do, and why we get the sort of leaders who giddily dive into cesspools and yank us in after them. Anger and arrogance. Its the American way; but don’t worry. In a few hours Mr. Smith will offer his sincerest apologies for his bad judgement, not to Mr Rock, but to “the Academy” and his “fans.” And all will be forgiven.