We have to ask: What did you think about the Oscars?

I didn’t watch the Oscars–I’m an NCAA basketball fan (The extraordinary event that will happen when, for the first time, Duke meets UNC in the tournament in Saturday’s Final Four game is all my state can talk about.) and, on Sunday, I had serious jet lag. But, whoa, have I read about them.

As I said in the forums, I’m happy CODA won. I resent the implication it’s not worthy because it’s not intense. The Oscars of my youth routinely nominated hugely fun popular movies (see especially the 70s and 80s). Art isn’t limited to grim stories. I’m happy the winners were diverse in wonderful ways. So, I’m fine with the award outcomes.

I found the fashion to be interesting. I loved Timothée Chalamet, shirtless, in women’s Louis Vuitton, the Haim sisters looking so elegant, the Williams sisters plunging necklines, Lily James’ frothy pink gown, and Jada Pinkett Smith’s gorgeous giant green dress. (Kristen Stewart’s mini suit was a pass, however.)

But of course, no one will remember any of the above in the way they remember the slap judged ’round the world. I’ve watched the uncensored clips and it still is so odd. Until Will Smith began shouting obscenities, I thought it might have been a stunt. The perspective I’ve read that I find myself most in agreement with is from Wesley Morris, long term film critic at the New York Times. He writes:

That’s one thing about the last two years. We’ve been made privy to all kinds of behavior we’d rather not see, witnesses of people’s worst moments. Now we’ve been made privy to one of Smith’s. Most of us don’t know any of these people. Yet we kind ofdo. We’ve made them part of some cultural family — that’s part of how stardom works (TV stardom, especially, which, early on, is what Smith, Pinkett Smith and Rock achieved). The reason so many of us are asking one another what just happened, the reason we’re so disturbed — a reason — is that maybe these three are like family, and it hurts to watch them feud. To witness intense emotional and psychological frailty (call it narcissism if you must) is to be left with as many questions about who we are as about who, Sunday night, Will Smith became. It’s like every other mystery of these past two years. We’ll never know. And with respect to him, why do we deserve to?

The Smiths, like all of us, are unknowable to strangers. Their experience as a wildly famous Black family is one so far from mine that I know I can’t make sense of their behavior. And I feel strongly that none of us should ever be defined only by our worst moments. Roxane Gay, a Black, queer writer and celeb, labeled Smith’s actions a slap, pushing, with her words, against the narrative of a dangerously violent Black man. It is unsurprising that Smith’s retaliation for Rock’s words about Smith’s wife is of greater concern to Whites than it is to Blacks.

What do you think? And, given that this topic is one that many find very upsetting, please make sure your remarks are about the Oscars rather than what other posters think about the Oscars. Thank you.

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments