Chris Rock has never been one to shy away from controversy, and his newest Netflix special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, is no different.
In fact, Rock didn’t waste any time addressing the topic at hand: the now-famous Oscars slap that happened during the 2022 awards show.
For those who don’t remember, Will Smith smacked Chris Rock in the face on live television during the ceremony after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance. Since then, everyone has commented on the incident, from Tiffany Haddish to Jimmy Kimmel, but Rock has largely kept quiet—until now.
In the Netflix special, Rock makes a few passing references to the incident while making fun of the fact that he has to be careful not to offend anyone. He then adds, “You know anybody that says words hurt has never been punched in the face.” It’s a classic Rock one-liner, but it also serves as a nod to the fact that he’s fully aware of the fallout from the incident.
But Rock doesn’t begin to describe what happened on that Oscars stage until the very end of his performance. He performs it in the only way that he is capable of, as is to be expected.
He tells the audience that he was waiting to take the stage backstage at the Oscars when he saw Will and Jada Pinkett Smith approaching. He says he greeted them both warmly and then added, “Oh, Jada, you look beautiful tonight.” It was a harmless comment, but it was enough to set Will off.
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Recounting the Incident
According to Rock, Will started yelling at him, saying, “What’d you say about my wife?” Rock says he was taken aback by the outburst and told Will that he didn’t say anything bad about Jada. But Will wasn’t satisfied, and he ended up slapping Rock across the face.
Rock says that at that moment, he realized he had a decision to make: he could either punch Will back and risk starting a full-blown fight, or he could let it go and take the high road. In the end, he chose the latter option, and he says he’s glad he did. “I didn’t want to ruin his suit,” Rock jokes.
Of course, it’s worth noting that this is all just Rock’s version of events. Will Smith has yet to publicly comment on the incident beyond his initial apology to Rock, so it’s unclear what his side of the story might be.
Regardless, it’s clear that the incident has left a lasting impression on Rock. He’s always been known for pushing boundaries with his comedy, but it seems that this experience has given him pause. As he says during the special, “I gotta watch what I say. You never know what’s going to set somebody off.”
Difference Between Rock and Smith
He then proceeds to compare himself to Smith, saying that he is not the same as the Hollywood heavyweight, who is in movies with his shirt off and played Muhammad Ali, while Rock played Pookie in New Jack City.
“He’s in movies with his shirt off. If I’m in a movie getting open heart surgery, I got on a sweater. He trained and played Muhammad Ali, I played Pookie in New Jack City, we are not the same!” He continued, “Even in animated movies I’m a zebra, he’s a f—ing shark.”
Towards the end of his set, Rock finally gave his recounting of what went down on that Oscars stage. He likened Smith to Suge Knight, the former rap mogul who in 2018 was convicted of murder, calling him “Suge Smith.” Rock stated that Smith hit him so hard that he heard “Summertime” ringing in his ears, a reference to Smith’s hit song with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Rock then went on to reference the rumors of Jada Pinkett Smith cheating on her husband with a friend of their son, and how she hurt Smith more than he hurt Rock. He also talked about how Jada had suggested that he quit his job because Will wasn’t nominated for Concussion, to which he responded with jokes about her, saying that she started it.
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Didn’t Fight Back
Throughout the special, Rock stressed that he had no beef with Smith and that he loves him. Furthermore he made a point to say that he didn’t fight back because he was raised not to start a ramble in front of white people.
“I love Will Smith, my whole life,” Rock added. “I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life, I rooted for this motherf—–. And now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whooped.”
“A lot of people go ‘Chris, how come you didn’t do nothing back, how come you didn’t do nothing back that night?'”, he stated ending the set, “Cause I got parents, that’s why. Cause I was raised. I got parents and you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people!”
The Will Smith Oscars slap incident has been talked about extensively in the media, with many people weighing in on the incident. However, this is the first time that Chris Rock has addressed it on television. The incident took place during the 2022 Oscars, when Smith slapped Rock across the face following his joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance.
Chris Rock: Selective Outrage is currently streaming on Netflix.