The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially condemned the actions of Will Smith at Sunday night’s Oscars in a statement obtained by Vanity Fair.
The move comes in the wake of Smith slapping Chris Rock during the live broadcast Sunday night, after the comedian—who was presenting best documentary—made an insulting joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, which is due to her struggles with alopecia. (“Can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2.”) Smith stayed at the show and apologized to the Academy onstage minutes after, when he was awarded the best-actor Oscar for his performance as Richard Williams in King Richard.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” reads the statement released on behalf of the Academy, which was sent alongside the organization’s standards of conduct. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the officers of the Academy’s Board of Governors planned an emergency conference call earlier Monday. Those behind the broadcast have had to act fast, as initial controversy has swirled over Smith being permitted to stay in the Dolby Theatre and accept his award after the assault (and his later outburst: “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth”). Late on Sunday night, the Academy tweeted, somewhat confusingly, “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.” Meanwhile, producer Will Packer tweeted, “Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring.”
On Monday, those involved changed their tune to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. Packer responded to backlash around his initial tweet in the early afternoon, writing, “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. But I also don’t mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.” Meanwhile, a source told CNN that there were “immediate discussions” about removing Smith from the show on Sunday, “but the Academy decision makers were seated in various spots in the Dolby Theatre and couldn’t mobilize to make a decision before he won best actor.” (Smith continued to celebrate his win on Sunday night, dancing the night away at Vanity Fair’s Oscar party.)
It’s expected that, out of the formal review, the Academy will take some degree of action in response to Smith’s violent outburst. While calls have been made on social media and elsewhere for his Oscar to be revoked, what’s more likely is a suspension or expulsion of the actor’s Academy membership.
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