Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards on Sunday has resulted in at least 66 complaints to the Federal Communications Commission, The Hill reported.
The website, which obtained the complaints through a Freedom of Information Act request, noted that the complaints were nearly unanimous in condemning Smith, 53, for walking onstage and slapping Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock was presenting an Oscar for best documentary feature when he made a “G.I. Jane 2″ joke about Pinkett Smith, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The comedian was confronted by Smith, who walked onstage and slapped Rock, according to The Associated Press.
Pinkett Smith has a shaved head and suffers from alopecia, a hair-loss condition, according to the AP.
After returning to his seat in the audience, Smith shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth,” Variety reported.
The anonymous complaints to the FCC included one viewer who described being “traumatized” by seeing Smith “assault that other poor man,” The Hill reported.
“I haven’t been able to sleep as a result. My child was also scared. I had to take medicine to calm me down,” the viewer, from Illinois, wrote in the complaint. “I think the Oscars were not child friendly and shouldn’t be allowed on TV if they are going to have violent assaults live.”
While much of the confrontation was censored for U.S. viewers, the episode was shown and heard in its entirety in many places overseas, The Hill reported.
“This display was disgusting and beamed directly into our living room,” according to an FCC complaint from Connecticut. “I thought your agency was supposed to keep this type of violence and cursing off television. I hope you can bring sense and reason back to the public airways.”
According to The Wrap, the complaints after the Smith-Rock confrontation paled in comparison to Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction,” when her breast was partially exposed by Justin Timberlake during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in 2004.
There were 540,000 complaints registered after “Nipplegate,” The Wrap reported -- two years before Twitter was created. The FCC levied a $550,000 fine for CBS and MTV that was eventually dismissed, The Hill reported.
“I was so offended and triggered to see Will Smith violently assault Chris Rock on a live family program like the Oscars,” a Florida viewer wrote in a complaint to the FCC, The Hill reported, adding that Smith and ABC “should be held accountable.”
“You go after Janet Jackson when Justin Timberlake ripped off her clothes and basically assaulted her on live TV as well,” the viewer wrote. “And she was the victim in that case.
“This whole episode has me so shaken and ruined the Oscars and the very deserving winners due to your allowing this malicious activity on public airwaves.”
As reported in Variety’s Trending TV chart, there were 5 million mentions on Twitter about the 2022 Academy Awards overall, with 32.8 million Twitter engagements, according to The Wrap.
Smith, who won an Oscar for best actor for his role in “King Richard” about an hour after his confrontation with Rock, returned to the stage and apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during his acceptance speech, the AP reported.
Smith apologized to Rock on Monday.
On Wednesday, the Academy initiated an investigation into the incident and said that Smith broke the organization’s code of conduct.
Smith was given 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and possible sanctions, and has the chance to provide a written response, the Academy said in a statement. The next board meeting is scheduled for April 18, Variety reported.
Rock, meanwhile, received a pair of standing ovations Wednesday night in his first appearance since the incident.
“Whoa, OK!” Rock exclaimed after walking on stage at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, Variety reported. “Yo, let me do the show!”
“I don’t have a bunch of (expletive) about what happened (Sunday), so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend,” Rock told the audience. “I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point, I’ll talk about that (expletive). And it will be serious and funny.”
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