Will Smith Must Return His Oscar: Guest Column

The Motion Picture Academy’s decision to ban Will Smith Oscar ceremonies and events for 10 years, as the discipline for slapping Chris Rock is little more than an extended time out for a playground bully. It’s a toothless pity that lays bare the superficiality of Hollywood morality.

At this point, the only person who can redeem the integrity of the Oscar it is Smith himself. He needs to face the seriousness of the offense he committed: slapping Rock, live March 27 in front of millions on stage at the Academy Awards. Smith needs to express mail his gold trophy to the Academy and publicly declare something like: “Out of respect for the 94 years of honor conferred upon this award, I do not feel in good conscience worthy to be its custodian. ”

Of the many disturbing things he said after the slap, the most galling to me was his reference to the influence of a higher power during his surreal acceptance speech after he won for his work on “King Richard” less than an hour later. of his act of violence, and the Academy’s equally shocking decision not to expel Smith from the ceremony.

In its rambling comments, said Smith“At this point in my life, at this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling me to do and be in this world,” he said.

This attempt to explain his actions added to the parody of this ethical catastrophe. By presenting his acceptance speech as a kind of submission to the will of God, Smith abdicated personal responsibility.

Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige. That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who had just committed an assault right in front of their eyes.

With one deft stroke, Will Smith created an existential crisis for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The incident was such a jolt to social norms that it will gnaw at our national conscience until it is somehow properly atoned for. Smith, who resigned his AMPAS membership on April 1he was quick to accept his punishment when the 10-year suspension was announced on April 8. But there is more you must do.

Given the vulgarity of pop culture in the age of social media, it was no surprise that much of this year’s Oscar proceedings were frequently profane. But it is an insult to God’s honor to assign any part of the episode to him in bad taste. To argue that some deterministic force was at play is to deny the sad fact that the matter was purely human. No doubt a serious moral failure occurred, but the psychology and philosophy underpinning this ongoing show can very cleverly be explained as an act of free will.

The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remedied. The only hope of justifiable grace must involve Smith voluntarily returning his best actor award.

veteran actor Harry Lennix has had a steady presence in film and television since the late 1980s. Recent credits include such series as “Billions,” “Insecure,” “The Blacklist,” “24,” and “Emily Owens, MD,” as well such as movies like “Man of Steel” (2013) and “Chi-Raq” (2015). .

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