"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it."
When I was four, my family took me to see Men in Black in a movie theatre, with a heavily discounted ticket price. Although I didn't understand the plot, besides that Edgar was this bad alien that lashed out at everyone, and that Will Smith was taken into this magical world where he's dressed up in a black suit, it was one of the most magical and captivating experiences for me.
Oh wait, you still have that outrageous slap in your mind, yes? Now you think Will Smith is a pariah who needs to have his Oscar taken away, and his career left in tatters -- while Chris Rock is the next incarnation of Jesus for carrying on with the show, who now deserves to shit all over Will with assault lawsuits and Will's marriage in endless comedy sketches. Because Will Smith needs to be held accountable, not just for the slap, but for being a rich celebrity who lives in paradise and doesn't suffer everyday problems, now he will be brought down to our level, oh, that will show those Hollywood snobs!
You have people saying "Oh, it's sending the wrong message to people if Will isn't punished," even though it appears that everyone who's anyone knows that hitting another person is wrong, let alone unleash such an outburst of focused rage. So what is the real deal?
As I write this, I have flashes of Nietzsche's critique of morality, where he says that morality may be nothing but a tool for which the slave-herd politely imposes their grievances upon the rich, who don't seem to have to slough through life like "Everyone Else(TM)." Scroll through internet comments regarding the Will/Chris slap, and you will not see anything that indicates it's Chris who has been humiliated, but rather Will who needs to be humiliated into obscurity, period.
Think about it this way: you are touched. You are slapped. You are smashed in the face with a brick, or pummelled to the ground and mauled. In blind legal terms, all can count as assault, no matter the context or reason why it happened in the first place. Who cares, you're just making excuses at this point. In today's civilized society, which seems to prod people towards exercising at gyms and asserting dominance, it is rather ironic that a display of real physicality upon another is frowned upon -- unless it's in an act of overt self-defence. Same goes for sexual violations where now, even staring at a woman too long at a bar is considered harassment, which is why you have guys who appear to be wimping out on the dating scene. You would have to wonder why there's a mortuary air of repression and charged anxiety amongst people nowadays; you are castrated from ever expressing your real feelings openly, it must be ideally done with a veiled politeness.
I've read the Will Smith memoir bit where he recalls the most defining event of his childhood -- failing to protect his own mother from his father's abuse, and spending every moment of his life in regret of his cowardly inaction.. in his movies, I see that pain coming out when it comes to his rawer performances.
In that moment where he shouted at Chris Rock after the slap, I saw the rage burning out in full-force through his words, as if Chris had been a lighting rod for Will Smith's repressed energies. And in his award speech afterwards, I recognise that same remorse and regret of a man who wants to take back what he's wrongly done, as when I've allowed my own anger, rage and hatred upon other people to overpower me. When this emotional context gets swept aside, you're left with a blind justice that would punish a good man, as a career criminal or marauder gets punished, for the mob's satisfaction. I won't believe in a morality that seeks to vindictively punish.
The people who call for bloody reprisal in Chris Rock's name after the fact, I must politely disagree with all. I have never personally met Will Smith, but for all these years, he has been like a spiritual brother to me.