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So What If The Slap Was Staged?

Even if it was, I still wonder why anyone would think of violence as entertainment.

2 min readMar 29, 2022


A billion people saw Will Smith slap the tar out of Chris Rock during the Academy Awards two days ago. The incident went viral and maybe another billion saw it the next day. I wrote about the slap yesterday. Some of the responses I received claimed that the incident was staged to jack up ratings.

Judging by the camera angles that I saw, it was hard to tell if the slap was real. I could hear the echo of the slap in the audio as if an ambient mike picked up the sound, not the microphone that Mr. Rock was wearing on his lapel. Now I feel tempted to skip on over to Reddit to see if those sleuths are analyzing the footage, the audio, the body language, whatever.

Chris Rock and Will Smith are both highly skilled, seasoned actors. They know how to make an action movie. They have the skills to stage a slap. They know each other fairly well. They’ve starred together in at least one movie, so they’ve worked together. They would be well-positioned to stage a stunt like that.

But even if the slap was staged, so what?

What that proves is that the movie industry believed that an act of violence on stage is entertainment and that it would pump the ratings. Remember that the ratings now include streaming on YouTube, on the site of the television network covering the Oscars (ABC), and replays on digital video recorders. I bet ABC is earning some extra pocket change with all the news outlets that are paying for streaming rights to a minute and a half of airtime.

In either case, whether it was real or staged, the incident reflects a basic assumption in America, maybe the world. Violence is entertainment.

I suspect that even if Will Smith had done nothing, Chris Rock might have felt some sweat after his joke, especially if the audience didn’t laugh. I’ve performed standup comedy myself. I know what it’s like to bomb. Comedians in the audience are the only ones to laugh when the guy on stage bombs.

So I don’t really care if the slap was staged or not. What I care about is why anyone would think that watching some dude slap another dude is entertainment. I wonder where that comes from…

Write on.