Oscars' In-Theater Audience Had Surprising Reaction To Will Smith Slap

The audience at the 2022 Oscars had a surprising reaction to the Will Smith slap on live TV. In what has become the most-talked-about moment in recent Oscars history, actor Will Smith took to the stage while actor/comedian Chris Rock was presenting and slapped him for what Smith felt was an offensive joke about Smith's wife, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith. Smith immediately returned to his seat, yelling at Rock from there, while Rock continued with the award presentation. Shortly thereafter, Smith won Best Actor for his performance in King Richard and gave an emotional speech that stirred a standing ovation from the audience.

Many were surprised that Smith was allowed to remain in the audience after the violent altercation, which saw the actor being consoled by his peers in the audience in-between commercial breaks, with Tyler Perry, Denzel Washington, and Bradley Cooper seen talking closely with Smith and putting their hands and arms on him in a comforting manner. After the show, Smith was seen partying with his peers while posing for pictures. The 2022 Oscars were produced by Will Packer (Ride Along), rather than a dedicated Oscars live TV producer, and many were left wondering why more action wasn't taken during the show, be it from the producer or on-site security.

Related: Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock At Oscars: Biggest Questions & What Next?

The Town podcast with Matthew Belloni addressed that very issue and attempted to explain why more wasn't done in the moment, which has a lot to do with how the in-theater audience reacted. Belloni polled some experienced live TV producers and got one response that was surprising and insightful. With so much going on at one time, from logistics to celebrities to families and the pressure of live TV, it wasn't as clear-cut as many may have thought. Here are the unnamed producer's thoughts on the incident:

I'm actually not sure you physically can, in that moment, or have the right to move someone offstage. A producer isn't the police, they aren't The Academy spokesperson, they also aren't the moral adjudicator of life. They are filming an event. You also saw how the room had rallied around him; standing ovation, hugging with Tyler Perry, Denzel. So, you potentially start a riot on live TV when you are the only person who doesn't have a microphone. It's very complicated.

Since the incident, there have been many calls for action against Smith, who issued an apology via his Instagram on Monday. The Academy issued its own statement, however, saying that a formal investigation would be taking place and that they would be exploring "further action and consequences" as per their bylaws, Standards of Conduct, and California law. Rock has already declined to press charges against Smith for the slap and has remained mum on the subject since it transpired.

Given the length of time between Smith's slap and his Oscar win (approximately 44 minutes), it did not put The Academy in a very good place. Having Smith removed just before he won his Oscar would've surely thrown things into chaos and left an even bigger stain on the proceedings and ultimately the lesser of two evils was chosen. Smith, even though he's apologized, will still have to face The Academy's disciplinary action (if any is taken), as well as deal with the public perception of his actions, which have proven to not be in his favor thus far. Time will tell if the Oscars 2022 incident affects his career, but it will most definitely affect how The Academy plans and prepares for such an incident in the future.

Next: Will Smith's Chris Rock Slap Overshadowed Oscars 2022's Biggest Triumphs

Source: The Town Podcast

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