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Everything we know about the 6-year-long feud between Will Smith and Chris Rock.

There's nothing quite like the Academy Awards.

Each and every year it brings about a controversy or two, and 2022 was no different. And at the centre of this year's Oscars' coverage - arguably the biggest story of the event - was the exchange between comedian Chris Rock and actor Will Smith

For those who haven't yet heard about what went down, here's a quick explainer. 

Halfway through the 2022 Oscars ceremony, Chris Rock came on stage to present the Oscar for Best Documentary. During his 'bit', he made a few jokes. Nothing out of the ordinary there. 

But it's what he said next, that sparked everything. Rock signalled to Jada Pinkett Smith - who was in the front row with her husband Will Smith - and said: "I can't wait for G.I. Jane 2."

It was a reference to the 1997 film starring Demi Moore, whose character had a shaved head. The joke by Rock was undoubtedly poking fun at Pinkett Smith, who currently has a shaved head as she's been struggling with the auto-immune disease alopecia, which causes severe hair loss. 

Watch the interaction between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Post continues below. 

Video via The Guardian

Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia recently. During an episode of Red Table Talk in 2018, she detailed the raw and very emotional impact of losing her hair.

"It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, 'Oh my god, am I going bald?'

"Now at this point, I can only laugh," she said. "Y'all know I've been struggling with alopecia. So it just showed up like that and this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So I thought I'd just share it so y'all are not asking any questions."

Even with this context front of mind, what happened next at the Oscars was still a surprise to everyone.

Will Smith walked up onto the stage, struck Rock in the face and then went and sat back down. Smith then yelled out to Rock: "Keep my wife's name out of your f**king mouth."

Rock's response: "Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me."

Initially, both the Oscars' audience and people watching on from home were confused. Was it a publicity stunt? A joke?

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Footage showed Tyler Perry and Denzel Washington comforting Smith while he wiped tears from his eyes. But after Smith repeated the phrase "Keep my wife's name out of your f**king mouth", many realised the altercation was probably incredibly legit.

Especially when considering the strained relationship between the two stars over the years.

Will Smith and Chris Rock's altercation. Image: Getty. 

Rock and Pinkett Smith have actually been in one another's lives for quite some time. Many would remember their work together on the hit family film Madagascar in 2005 - Rock voicing Marty the zebra and Pinkett Smith voicing Gloria the hippo over the course of three installments.

Given their familiarity, it's then puzzling to think why Rock has continued to punch down at Pinkett Smith multiple times in his comedy over the years. 

The confusion around shaming Pinkett Smith's hair continues when you consider that given Rock previously produced and starred in the documentary Good Hair, which unpacked how Black women have historically styled their hair and the politicisation and sensitivities surrounding it. 

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Then in 2016, Rock hosted the Oscars. That year's awards ceremony was plagued by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, given the major lack of representation and diversity in the nominations list. 

With this in mind, Pinkett Smith had announced just before the ceremony that she would be "boycotting the Oscars" given just how few Black people were nominated. Pinkett Smith also made note of the fact her husband had been snubbed for his performance in the film Concussion.

Seeing Pinkett Smith's video as a comedic opportunity, Rock belittled her in his monologue: "Isn't she on a TV show? Jada got mad, said she's not coming. Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited." Those in attendance were in fits of laughter and clapping encouragingly. 

It's a moment that perhaps has stuck with the Smiths ever since.

Will Smith said to Good Morning America at the time about his boycotting: "This is so deeply not about me. This is about children that are going to sit down and watch this show and they're not going to see themselves represented. There's a regressive slide toward separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony. And that's not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind."

Image: Getty. 

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This also isn't the first time Rock has made some controversial jokes.

When he performed in Australia a few years back, people walked out of his shows due to his comedic bits centred on paedophiles, porn and his ex wife's vagina.

And then at another stand-up gig, the comedian made "relentless jokes about sexual harassment, rape and Harvey Weinstein". 

Listen to today's episode of The Spill. Post continues after audio.


On the same hand, many are also rightly pointing out that resorting to violence is never the answer, and Smith striking Rock and then winning a Best Actor award doesn't send a good message. Not to mention the inspirational story of Serena and Venus Williams has once again been overshadowed by controversy, given Smith won for his performance in King Richard.

As the Academy said in a statement: "The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world."

As for what happens now, the Los Angeles Police Department made a statement, saying: "LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report."

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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