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Chinese Netizens: Will Smith a “Real Man” After Dramatic Oscars Slap

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that the 94th Academy Awards (aka the Oscars) on Sunday, March 27, was nothing short of dramatic, with an incident involving actors Will Smith and Chris Rock overshadowing the entire ceremony.

In a nutshell, comedian-presenter Rock cracked a not-so-funny joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkette Smith, comparing her baldness to a military haircut by suggesting her hypothetical involvement in a sequel to 1997’s G.I. Jane.

For a while now, the American actress and singer has struggled with alopecia, an autoimmune disease causing hair loss.

Smith reacted by storming onto the stage and slapping Rock in front of a live audience.

The incident made things all the more awkward when not long after, Smith had to ascend the stage again to accept the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (King Richard, 2021). In a tearful speech, he explained that “love makes you do crazy things” and apologized for his behavior.

In the wake of the onstage assault, the Academy condemned violence in all forms and announced it is launching a formal review of the incident. Meanwhile, a seemingly large number of Twitter users appear to have sided with Rock, saying that he handled the public assault with poise and grace.

Some tweeters even began using the hashtag #BanWillSmithfromOscars to demand the actor be barred from future Academy Awards.

In China, however, netizens have expressed their admiration for Smith’s fierce defense of his family, calling the actor a “real man.”

On Weibo alone, numerous hashtags related to the incident have been used by Chinese social media users, with the hashtag ‘Will Smith went on stage to hit someone’ (#威尔史密斯上台打人#) garnering 320 million views.

One trending Weibo comment reads: “This is a real brave move by a real man. When your wife is made fun of on the stage at the Oscars, it is normal to take action. The slap was rather light. The presenter needed a good lesson.”

On the day of the awards, the slap also topped searches on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. A recap video created by state-backed publication Global Times received comments from more than 10,000 people overnight on the short-video app.

“Making fun of people should be based on the principle of respect. This joke is not appropriate. No wonder Will Smith was pissed off,” reads the most popular comment under the video.

Others have justified Smith’s behavior by describing it as born out of love.

The day after the incident, Smith issued an official apology across various social platforms, with his words inciting more than 90 million interactions on Weibo in under eight hours.

While a vocal group on Twitter has taken the justifiable stance that Smith’s actions constitute assault, many Chinese social media users have argued that Rock’s jab at Pinkette Smith was ‘verbal violence’ and that the stand-up comedian and actor should also apologize.

At the time of publication, Rock had not issued an official statement on the incident.

Cover image via Depositphotos

Weiyu Qian
    Weiyu is a writer and video creative for RADII. She is interested in gender issues, wellness issues and human psychology. She has been a correspondent in France for a major Chinese news outlet and launched Brut. 原色视频 videos in China. Weiyu has traveled extensively across Europe and enjoys skydiving and exploring the underwater world. You might find her checking out a new jazz club or swing dancing on the weekend.
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