The Board Of Governors for the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences – A.M.P.A.S (the governing body behind the Oscars) has on Friday afternoon, April 8th, reached a decision to officially ban actor Will Smith from attending the Oscars and all other Academy events and programs either physically (in-person) or virtually for the next 10 years after slapping American stand-up comedian Chris Rock during the 94th Academy awards held on March 27th.
While dishing out penalties for Will Smith’s inexcusable behavior, The Academy’s President David Rubin and Chief Executive Dawn Hudson issued a joint statement on Friday on behalf of the globally acclaimed organization that reads;
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.“
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this we’re sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, we fell short unprepared for the unprecedented.”
In a quick response to the organization’s conclusion, Mr. Smith in a statement to newsrooms says he “accepts and respects the Academy’s decision.”
Consequences that come a little too late
This disciplinary action comes just a week after he resigned from being a member of the A.M.P.A.S meaning he can no longer vote for Oscar nominated movies and performances each year.
The resignation also meant there wasn’t much the board could do as they could no longer suspend or terminate his membership as had been expected because he left by himself.
The letter from The Academy’s leadership goes on to thank Chris Rock for maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances and concludes by saying it hopes, “this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.“
Originally, the Academy’s board members had planned to meet on April 18th to discuss a punishment but moved up the date to Friday to act more quickly. Will Smith’s ban from attending the Academy Awards starts immediately from April 8th, 2022 and ends on April 8th, 2032.
How did things get to this point exactly?
Smith walked up to Chris Rock and smacked him across the face while he was on stage live at this year’s Oscars following a joke Rock had made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s (Smith’s wife) shaved head which is a result of her years’-long struggle with hair loss brought about by a medical condition called Alopecia.
As if that assault wasn’t enough, when Will went back to his seat, he was then heard yelling at Chris…telling him to, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—— mouth!”
It’s not clear whether Mr. Rock knew about Jada’s hair loss condition.
Smith would later go on and publicly apologize to Chris and the rest of the world a day after the altercation through a written statement on Instagram.
The situation was so bad that Sunday night that officers from the Los Angeles Police Department were prepared to arrest Smith for Battery (a criminal offense involving unlawful physical contact with another person punishable by a $100,000 fine or a 6 month jail sentence under California laws).
However, the comedian Mr. Rock said he didn’t want to make a bad situation worse and never pressed charges against Smith.
Will Smith joins the Oscars list of shame
The King Richard star becomes the 5th person in history to be banned from the Oscars. Producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Bill Cosby, director Roman Polanski and cinematographer Adam Kimmel have all been banned previously.
In each of those four examples, their bans are permanent, with Harvey and Cosby being expelled after they were found guilty of sexual harassment and sexual assault crimes by law enforcement agencies.
Will’s punishment sadly puts him in the same league as some truly despicable individuals.
What next for Will Smith?
Despite the suspension, Mr. Smith is not prohibited from being nominated or winning more Oscar awards in future. The difference is that he wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony and accept the award in such a scenario.
No plans have been announced to strip Mr. Smith of his Oscar statuette for Best Actor In A leading Role he won this year despite several appeals from moviegoers and other stakeholders in the film industry to do so. Nevertheless, its quite unlikely The Academy has the legal authority to even do that. In other words, he will keep his award.
Several projects involving Will have quickly been put on hold following last month’s fiasco. For example; The Hollywood Reporter first reported on April 2nd that Netflix had backed away from developing an upcoming Smith film, Fast And Loose.
Apple TV+ is also facing tough choices on how to handle their upcoming action thriller film, Emancipation in which Smith plays a man escaping slavery.
A stain the world and the internet might never forget
Smith’s actions on Oscars night left everyone watching especially those inside the Dolby Theatre stunned with The Academy claiming the actor was asked to leave the ceremony shortly afterwards, something he allegedly refused to do and stayed until the event was over.
The drumbeat of global outrage only grew louder in the next days after the show and by the time he resigned last Friday, a sanction from The Academy seemed inevitable.
After such a stellar career spanning 37 years and counting, its amazing to think that those few seconds we saw on TV last month could alter his path forever.
And while most folks have criticized the A.M.P.A.S for allowing him to stay in the event and receive his Best Actor prize after what he had done a few minutes earlier, maybe now they’ll feel better about the decision knowing this year was his last chance to accept an Oscar for a long, long time.