Opinion: It’s Not Team Chris Rock vs. Team Will Smith; It’s Between being Primitive and Civilized

Alejandro Betancourt
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“If we are to preserve civilization, we must first remain civilized” — Louis St. Laurent

I’m still thinking about what we saw at the Academy Awards last night. There are so many issues on so many levels. It’s hard to wrap my mind around them.

All this appears to be in vain compared to the horrors that Ukrainians are experiencing in war.

When it comes to first-world “problems,” we seem petty and ridiculous. But we all face different problems, so here I go again with some observations.

Privilege comes with responsibility.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but not everyone knows what’s happening in the Smiths’ lives. Some of us are even ignorant of them beyond the basics.

When I saw the video and heard Chris’s joke, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why it was so bad. I never knew until last night that Will’s wife has an alopecia problem and that it has been tough on her.

Reading my Twitter feed, I see that many people were in my situation, and we didn’t get why the joke was hurtful. Until later.

You must be respectful to others when they are ill or injured, and you should never make fun of other people’s illnesses or bodies. It isn’t appropriate to do so.

Is it acceptable to make fun of a black woman’s disease? We’ve gone too far normalizing verbal abuse and bullying.

When you are in the public eye, you have to be more mindful of your words and actions. You are held to a higher standard even if you are a comedian. Or maybe even more so!

Privilege comes with responsibility. And with that responsibility comes the need to be aware of the world around you and how your words and actions might affect others.

Toxic masculinity.

There’s a lot of talk about “toxic masculinity” lately. And while I don’t love the term, in this case, it’s appropriate. Will Smith’s reaction to Chris Rock’s joke was born out of a sense of entitlement and toxic masculinity.

Many people praise Will Smith’s behavior because they believe he was justified in “protecting” his wife. This implies she is “his property.” As if she could not defend herself if she felt it necessary.

I’ve felt threatened, and I’ve also wanted to defend a loved one. That sounds like a typical human experience to me.

Although Will’s intentions aren’t malicious, the way he carried himself was, in the best scenario, misguided, in the worst, guided by hate.

There were many other ways to try to defend his honor or Jade’s, and there were many different paths to protest Chris’s joke before choosing violence.

His response and “apology” were straight out of the abuser’s handbook to make matters worse. He tried to position himself as a victim and rationalized his behavior by claiming he was doing it for love!

No Will, hatred rather than love drives your primitive reactions.

This is not an apology. This is a man trying to save face and cut the damage caused by lashing out.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

The audience and the Academy are complicit.

The entire audience erupted in applause when Will Smith walked off stage says a lot about the type of people celebrated in Hollywood.

It says a lot about the type of people who have power and influence in our society.

It says a lot about the Academy, which is supposed to be a group of people “dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences.”

I agree that his Best Actor award would not be revoked due to this, or perhaps it should be!

But applauding and giving a standing ovation to someone who had just lashed out at someone else on stage is completely strange, and it illustrates why the world is in such poor shape now.

I’m not sure what kind of message they’re trying to send by rewarding someone for bad behavior.

Are we supposed to applaud people who can’t control their anger? Are we supposed to feel sorry for them?

What exactly are we supposed to feel?

And again, Chris’s joke was terrible and an act of verbal abuse. But we can’t compare insulting someone to assaulting someone. It’s not the same thing.

To those who say that we shouldn’t be so “sensitive.” I’m not sure what world you’re living in.

Being primitive and being civilized are two different things.

The division caused in social media and society is remarkable. We are in very different spectrums here.

It’s not just about Will Smith or Chris Rock. It’s about the type of society we want to live in.

It’s about our values and what we believe is acceptable behavior.

Do we want to live in a world where it’s okay to make fun of people’s illnesses? Do we want to live in a world where violence is seen as an acceptable response to someone insulting us?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in those worlds.

Will Smith’s reaction to a joke made by Chris Rock at the Oscars is indicative of a more significant problem in our society: the normalization of verbal abuse and violence.

This is not an isolated incident. We see it happening all the time, in everyday interactions and media. And it needs to stop.

Yes, we’re all violent, and violence is natural if we’re only animals. The lion can’t stop eating the gazelle; it’s what Lions do.

But if we want to go beyond being animals. If we wish to become more advanced than our primitive selves. In that case, we must start using nonviolence or a civilized way of life.

What do you think? Is violence ever acceptable? Should we always strive for a more civilized way of living? Or is it okay to lash out sometimes? Let me know in the comments below!

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