Will Smith was a hero to people, especially millennials who grew up watching him on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and then later enjoyed watching him obliterate aliens in the movie “Independence Day.” Smith was an American icon who could do no wrong until he actually did something that couldn’t be overlooked.
It was the slap seen around the world. During a speech at the Oscars, Smith walked on stage and physically assaulted Chris Rock after the comedian told an innocent joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair.
At that moment, Smith lost a lot of the public’s respect and goodwill. His image was already on the decline thanks to Pinkett-Smith’s admission that she’d been having an affair behind his back, not that he had been very faithful himself.
Either way, something seemed off about Smith. The once confident man who kept his cool and always set the example was gone and replaced by someone with a weak ability to control himself, so much so that he’d resort to physical violence over a joke.
Smith would reach out to Rock to talk about it but the offer was rejected. Rock was clearly not ready to talk about it yet, and so Smith was left floating in the wind with his actions hanging over him. Rock would make jokes about the incident, including during an attack by an LGBT radical against Dave Chappelle.
Fast forward to Friday, and Smith has released a video seemingly answering questions about that infamous incident between him and Rock. Uploaded to his YouTube channel, the video titled “It’s been a minute…” addresses the assault directly.
Smith began by answering why he didn’t apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech.
“I was fogged out by that point,” Smith answered. “It’s all fuzzy.”
“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” Smith said. “My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
Smith also apologized to Rock’s brother and mother.
“I didn’t realize and I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment,” he continued. So, I wanna apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Toni Rock.”
“We had a great relationship,” added Smith. “Tony Rock was my man. And this is probably irreparable.”
“I can say to all of you that there is no part of me that thinks that there was that was the right way to behave in that moment,” he continued. “There’s no part of me that thinks that that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”
Smith also cleared Pinkett-Smith of any wrongdoing, saying that she didn’t tell him to do anything after she rolled her eyes.
“I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it,” he said.
He then proceeded to apologize to her and his children for his actions.
As of this writing, no one in the Rock family has responded to the video.
It’s likely true that Smith does feel remorse for his actions, but many may not see a good moral compass as the reason why. Smith’s reputation has been severely damaged, making any movies that star him less likely to have the draw that they used to. His attempt to repair this relationship through this video is likely going to be seen by many as him attempting to retrieve his image for the sake of his career.
Even still, Pinkett-Smith is often looked at as the driving force behind the attack as instances of her being abusive and belittling Smith have come out since the attack. His marriage to her is going to be seen as an issue for many.
What Smith did was much larger than a slap. It was a sort of betrayal for many, and it’s going to be some time before his image is ever recovered if it’s recovered at all. Either way, it’s good that he apologized, and not just to Rock but his family as well.