Filmmaker Will Packer was tapped to produce the 2022 Oscars, and he made history at the 94th Academy Awards by hiring the ceremony’s first all-Black production team in the ceremony’s history. However, Packer’s inaugural involvement with the Oscars was overshadowed by the altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock.
The violent interaction between Smith and Rock left viewers divided, with some like Tiffany Haddish applauding The Fresh Prince, while others like Stephen A. Smith found the incident revolting. At first, Packer made tried to make light of the moment. “Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring,” he tweeted Monday afternoon.
Packer’s levity was not well received, though. Some Twitterers asked why Smith was allowed to return to his seat after the public assault and found Packer’s remark tasteless, while others said Packer’s show would only ever be remembered as a display of “black on black violence.” So Packer soon issued a follow-up statement that was more reflective in tone.
“Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it. I don’t feel the need to elucidate that for you,” Packer wrote. “But I also don’t mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.”
Smith did apologize onstage later that night evening — to everyone who wasn’t named Christopher Julius Rock III. And the omission did not go unnoticed. Smith would go on to party the night away, celebrating his first Oscars win. He did issue a public statement of apology the following day, though, and Smith expressly mentioned the 57-year-old comedian this time around. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote on IG. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.” As of this article’s publishing, Rock has yet to respond.
Smith’s fall from grace is accelerating. The Academy Awards will not rescind Smith’s Oscars win but they are debating whether to revoke his membership and ban him from future events. Richard Williams, whom Smith portrayed in King Richard and likened himself to as “the crazy father” in his live Oscars apology, did not approve of the altercation. “We don’t know all the details of what happened,” the Williams patriarch said to NBC News through his son, Chavoita LeSane. “But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”
Support for Chris Rock has only grown as of Sunday’s incident. though. Reports have since alleged that he didn’t write the G.I. Jane joke himself, only approved it, and that he was unaware of Jada Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia. Rock’s fellow comedians also feel that Smith’s actions, and the Academy Awards’ passive handling of the moment, only sanctions future violence against comics. Take a look at some of the Twitter posts below: