Will Smith Must Return His Oscar to Restore the Award’s Honor

The Motion Picture Academy’s decision to bar Will Smith from all Oscar ceremonies and festivities for ten years as punishment for slapping Chris Rock is akin to a long suspension for a bully on the playground. It’s a toothless consequence that exposes Hollywood’s moral shallowness.

The only person who can restore the Oscars’ integrity at this moment is Smith himself. He needs to accept the gravity of the crime he committed: slapping Rock in front of millions on the Academy Awards stage on March 27. “Out of respect for the 94 years of distinction showered upon this medal, I do not in good conscience feel worthy of being its keeper,” Smith should express-mail his golden trophy back to the Academy and publicly state.

The reference to a higher power during his surreal acceptance speech after he won for his work in “King Richard” less than an hour after his act of violence — and the Academy’s equally shocking decision not to eject Smith from the ceremony — was the most infuriating to me of the many unsettling things said in the aftermath of the slap.

“Of this time in my life, in this moment,” Smith said in his rambling remarks, “I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.”

This attempt to justify his conduct only contributed to the heinousness of the situation. Smith abdicated personal responsibility by framing his acceptance speech as yielding to God’s will.

The evening’s splendor was shattered by Smith’s savagery. This was demonstrated when astonished Oscar attendance offered a standing ovation to someone who had just assaulted them in front of their eyes.

Will Smith struck the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with a single smart stroke, causing an existential crisis. The occurrence was so shocking to societal norms that it will continue to gnaw at our national conscience until it is appropriately addressed. When the 10-year ban was issued on April 8, Smith, who had resigned his AMPAS membership on April 1, was quick to accept his punishment. He should, however, do more.

Given how coarse pop culture has become in the age of social media, it’s no wonder that much of this year’s Oscar ceremony was obscene. But assigning him any part in the sleazy episode is an insult to God’s honor. To claim that some deterministic force was at work would be to reject the tragic fact that the situation was entirely human. True, there was a major moral failure, but the psychology and philosophy that drives this recurring show can be easily explained as a free will act.

The blemish on the Motion Picture Academy is irreversible. Smith must willingly surrender his award for best actor as the sole hope for a justified grace.

Since the late 1980s, veteran actor Harry Lennix, a member of the Motion Picture and Television Academy, has been a consistent presence in film and television. “Billions,” “Insecure,” “The Blacklist,” “24,” and “Emily Owens, M.D.” are among his recent credits, as are the films “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016), “Man of Steel” (2013), “Chi-Raq” (2015), “Ray” (2004), “The Matrix Reloaded,” “Titus” (1999), and “The Five Heartbeats” (1999). (1991). In 2007, Lennix made his Broadway debut in August Wilson’s “Radio Golf,” and at the Mark Taper Forum, he performed in Wilson’s “King Hedley II.”

Source: variety.com


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