Everyone everywhere–from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Wanda Sykes to the “The View” crew to ordinary folks on social media, has been weighing in and trash-talking about Will Smith having slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars in front of millions of people.
Their opinions are mostly of the same ilk, expressing outrage. Disgust. Fear that his actions will be used as fodder for racists.
I understand. Violence is never a good thing. I get that. And, surely, some kind of consequences are in order for Smith.
But I look at this thing through a slightly different lense. As far as I know, this is the first time Will Smith has lost it in public. His own mother–who I admit is biased, appeared shocked and sincere when she said she had never seen him behave the way he did.
If it is true that this is the first time for Will, the question I ask is: is it ever OK for the rest of us have a Will Smith moment? Of course, I’m not talking about anyone who inflicts serious harm, or, God forbid, kills another person. But can you get a hall pass if you fuck up one time? If you get so angry in the spur of the moment you do or say something crazy-awful-stupid?
I’ve had a Will Smith moment. Actually, two of them. They didn’t take place in public, nevertheless, I’m ashamed of both of them.
The first time it happened was over 50 years ago. I was a sophomore at the University of of Illinois in Champaign, living in Bromley Hall. My roommate was my BFF, Bonnie McGrath, who is still my good friend.
I don’t remember why I did it, but I was so mad at with Bonnie that I threw a wooden hairbrush at her. I must have hit her on the elbow because I heard a crack. Thankfully, I didn’t hurt her, and she’s forgiven me (I think). But I haven’t forgiven myself.
The second time I was in my 20s. I was with my then boyfriend at my father’s apartment, who wasn’t home. My boyfriend, who wasn’t a druggie, wanted to me to try an illegal substance (I won’t say which kind, but it wasn’t pot).
“NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO,” I screamed, “especially in my dad’s home!!!” But my boyfriend was relentless, badgering me over and over and over again. He would not stop. That is until I kicked him. In the ass. He was shocked. I was too.
Anyway, the point is many of us, whether we admit or not, have had a Will Smith moment. Maybe it was not on a global scale. Still, a moment you regret, when you wished you could have had a rewind, a do-over. A moment when the only thing you could do is plead temporary insanity.
Maybe Will Smith needs psychotherapy. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he’ll never do a foolish thing like that again. Sure, he needs to be held accountable, but he doesn’t need, as I’ve heard people suggest on Facebook, to be permanently censored, banished from Hollywood. At least not yet. Let’s see what he does with the rest of his life.
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