Suppose for a moment it wasn’t Will Smith that got up from his seat, climbed up on the stage, and “slapped the sh*t outta” Chris Rock. Suppose his wife Jada had done the same thing.
Her doing that would have blocked Will from, as Hollywood and university Gender Studies theorists put it, “performing masculinity.” When Will later accepted his Best Actor award, he couldn’t praise himself enough. He tearfully said he had nothing but love in his heart, and, like the William’s father he played, he was a “fierce defender of his family.” And the audience loved it! It turns out the Queerest, most non-Binary, wokest audience in the Western world couldn’t get enough of the spectacle of an old-style Patriarch violently dealing with an insult to his woman.
Now personally I have some sympathy for Will. I understand his motivation, how he was raised, and what he saw as his unspoken duty. I understand why Chris’s joke may have struck a nerve for someone suffering from a medical condition that causes hair loss. But then again I’m a married suburban dad, I’m not the sort of person the Academy even wants in their audience anymore. They’ll never sport ribbons for the causes I care about.
So why were they cheering? Why, in our post-Modern world, where all the social roles and expectations that have have evolved over thousands of years are being overturned, does Hollywood still delight in an enactment of old-fashioned, knuckle-dragging masculine posturing over a wound to their spouse?
Remember, Hollywood has pumped out an ever increasing torrent of movies saying that girls and women can kick ass as well as any man. It’s a common trope in movies and TV that woman resent it when men think they need their help or protection.
It’s because Hollywood people don’t really believe the myths they promote. While in the movies, girls can do anything a man can do, when it’s real life they know that Jada isn’t going after Chris herself. In real life, that’s Will’s job. While he may have laughed at Chris’s joke until he saw that Jada was hurt, once he saw her reaction he felt obligated to act. It’s important to note that his peers have criticized him for overreacting, and for “disrespecting” the exalted Academy, but no one complained about his Patriarchal attitude that made him feel was his job to protect Jada.
It’s fascinating that the same group of Oscar attendees that authored numerous, predictable screenplay narratives of women handling things for themselves never asked themselves why Jada couldn’t step up and handle Chris Rock all by herself. It’s like they never saw YouTube and Tic-Toc videos where girls and woman do a pretty effective job of punishing those who insult them