One of the most shocking parts of the Will Smith slap saga was that he wasn’t really punished for it, at least at first.
Sure, they asked him to leave and social media mocked him so mercilessly he probably regretted ever standing up, but in terms of the consequences that would normally be expected with an assault.
He wasn’t arrested, wasn’t rebuked, and wasn’t even ushered out of the event for assaulting Rock. Nor was he punished for yelling vulgar things at Rock after the slap itself, something that many saw as an even larger breach of decorum.
That lack of punishment led some to conclude that it was all staged: why would he face no consequences for seemingly assaulting someone unless the assault was fake?
Well, that speculation is finally over: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced on Friday that actor Will Smith has been banned and won’t, for the next 10 years, be allowed to attend any Academy award events or other programs.
Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson announced as much in a statement on Friday, April 8th, saying:
“The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”
Additionally, the Academy letter criticized Smith’s conduct and apologized for not taking action or addressing the assault in an appropriately short time, saying:
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”
However, while the Academy is doing something, what action it has taken means little. Smith will still be able to act, hasn’t been held particularly accountable for the slap, and will even be able to be nominated for future awards. CNN, reporting on the limited effects of the action, notes that:
Smith’s resignation means that he is no longer part of the Academy’s voting body, but it does not prevent the Oscar winner from being nominated in the future, a source with knowledge previously told CNN.
Typically, the previous year’s best actor winner presents the current year’s best actress award (and the reigning best actress presents to the best actor trophy). With Smith’s ban, the Oscars will have to break that tradition.
Smith, for his part, said “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” in a statement to CNN. Still, it must be a bitter pill to swallow given that it was all to stand up for a wife who cheated on him, particularly given that her former lover is releasing a song about their affair.