After being given an ultimatum, Will Smith is now resigning from the Oscar organization, drawing a consequence from his attack on Chris Rock. He connects the exit with another apology. But what does that mean?
Will Smith will no longer be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, best known for awarding the Oscars. During Sunday’s ceremony, he apologized in his acceptance speech for slapping comedian and actor Chris Rock on stage just before, and a day later he released an apology via Instagram which this time was also addressed to Rock himself, whom he previously omitted. Smith is now writing about his exit (via Hollywood reporters):
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all the participants, and the global audience at home. I betrayed the Academy’s trust. I have deprived other nominees of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. My heart is broken. I want to bring the focus back to the people who deserve recognition for their accomplishments and allow the Academy to resume its incredible work of nurturing creativity and artistry in film.”
Massive criticism of Smith, the Academy, and Hollywood
Will Smith’s attack on Chris Rock, who previously made a tacky joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who was also present, drew massive criticism from the media, filmmakers, and audiences last week. The Oscar organization itself was also criticized because the actor was allowed to stay in the hall after his unprecedented attack and a little later received his own Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” – for the speech he even got a standing ovation in the hall and it seemed as if the stars present had collectively suppressed the violent outbreak that had just taken place. The Smith couple, many colleagues, and media representatives then celebrated the Oscar win at a party.
What does the exit mean for Smith?
On March 30, the Wednesday after the ceremony, Will Smith was given 15 days by the Academy to explain his actions in writing. His resignation is therefore very likely a reaction to pressure from the Oscar organization – and he thus forestalls a possible expulsion by the Academy. Leaders will meet on April 18 and then decide whether to sanction the actor in some other way.
For Smith himself, the immediate, practical consequences of his departure are few. The Academy has more than 9,500 voting members and now one less who can vote on who gets an Oscar. Smith won’t lose his Oscar because of this, and he could continue to win awards and attend future awards. It is more important what consequences the much-criticized attack will have on Will Smith’s future career – that remains to be seen.