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The slap | COMMENT | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Sorry, but there is no excuse.

Not that that’s stopped some people from trying to find one. And yes, in case you didn’t catch it, we’re talking about the event that ousted Ukraine, the pandemic, and gas prices as the main topic of public conversation. Meaning, of course, The Slap.

And here begins perhaps the most pointless recap you’ve ever read:

On Sunday night’s Oscars telecast, host Chris Rock cracked up about actress Jada Pinkett Smith, whose scalp is nearly bald. “‘GI Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see you,” he gushed, referencing a 1997 film in which Demi Moore shaved her head to play a Navy SEAL. In response, Smith’s husband, Will, took the stage, rode up to West Philadelphia, and slapped Rock in the face. He returned to his seat, bellowing, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”

The making of excuses began immediately afterwards. As Smith later said while accepting the Best Actor Oscar, Denzel Washington advised him the following during the commercial break: “At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you. Somewhere the devil is probably consulting his lawyer about a libel suit. Plague, famine and Ted Cruz, yes, but Satan has nothing to do with it.

Nor are we convinced by Tiffany Haddish and others who have praised Smith as an advocate for black femininity. He tried to claim the mantle himself in an acceptance speech where he compared himself to Richard Williams, father of tennis goddesses Venus and Serena, who he portrayed in the movie “King Richard.”

“I look like the crazy dad,” he said. “But love will make you do crazy things.”

Finally, some mentioned alopecia, the disorder that caused Jada’s hair loss. It’s far from certain – and seems unlikely – that Rock knew about this, but the point is made: don’t joke about people’s illnesses. But don’t get slapped if you do.

So no, no excuses. Will Smith stripped naked on this stage, this preacher of the gospel of positive thinking, power and — ahem — “willpower,” exposing the insecurities beneath his facade.

The record will show that when Rock made the offensive crack, Smith actually laughed. Then he saw his wife’s face go still and her eyes roll, and suddenly he was on the spot. It wasn’t about his distress, you know, but about his manhood in response to it. The average guy would rather walk around the lion’s cage naked with a raw steak strapped to his choppy morsels than see a woman he loves suffer and be helpless to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, “something” often decodes as a hit. We men are good at solving problems. It makes us feel manly. That’s why, from the Kremlin to Mar-a-Lago to the Oscars, there are few things more unpredictable — or dangerous — than a man feeling pressured to claim his manhood. The weaker the man, the greater the need and the greater the collateral damage.

Will Smith’s collateral damage includes a tarnished night, a tainted reputation, and possibly a damaged career. But Rock refused to press charges, so at least he didn’t end the night handcuffed like he easily could have. A day later, he finally apologized to Rock for his epic jackassery.

Perhaps the next time Smith sees his wife in distress, his first thought will be to comfort her.

That, after all, would be the manly thing to do.

Contact Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald at [email protected]