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“Yet to ban predators and racists”: Will Smith’s 10-year ban from Academy sparks raging debate online

Will Smith has been banned from the Academy for ten years for his slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars (Image via Getty Images)
Will Smith has been banned from the Academy for ten years for his slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars (Image via Getty Images)
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Barsha Roy

Will Smith has been officially banned from the Oscars for ten years for slapping comedian Chris Rock after the latter made a G.I. Jane joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance during the 94th Academy Awards.

On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its decision in an open letter following a meeting with the Board of Governors regarding the response to Smith’s action at the 2022 Oscars:

“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.”

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Following the announcement, Smith spoke to Page Six and said that he accepted the Academy’s decision:

“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”

However, the verdict sparked significant debate online as netizens questioned the Academy’s drastic action against the actor by calling out the organization for not taking immediate steps against controversial celebrities like Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein in the past.


The Academy faces criticism for imposing ten-year ban on Will Smith

Social media users criticized the Academy for its decade-long ban on Will Smith (Image via Jerrod Harris/Getty Images)
Social media users criticized the Academy for its decade-long ban on Will Smith (Image via Jerrod Harris/Getty Images)

Will Smith has faced intense scrutiny ever since he slapped Chris Rock during the 2022 Oscars ceremony. Numerous celebrities and the general public have condemned the act of violence and urged the Academy to take action against the actor.

However, as the organization announced its decade-long ban on Smith, several people questioned the severity of the action, saying that the decision was “too harsh” considering Smith’s near-spotless career until the 2022 Oscars.

Social media users also took to Twitter to criticize the ban, noting that celebrities with worse controversies, including “predators and racists,” were banned by the Academy several years after their crimes came to light:

will smith becoming the face of “they don’t love us, just what we create” was not on my 2022 bingo card. how did a slap translate to this when they have yet to ban actual predators and racists?? twitter.com/popcrave/statu…
Will Smith Gets 10 Year Ban, Have Less Respect For The Academy Now. "Too" Harsh. A Year Is More Ideal.
Is it weird that Will Smith's punishment for slapping an Oscar presenter is harsher than... well, anyone's... for violently attempting to overthrow the US government?
The harshness of Will Smith’s punishment is interesting when you consider he’s practically been scandal free prior to this.
So hollywood wants to cancel Will Smith for 1 slap but Amber Heard absolutely abused Johnny Depp and gets to keep her roles and fame?
Will Smith banned for 10 years which is...extreme & unnecessary. But the Academy gave Roman Polanski an Oscar & the crowd stood up with a standing ovation. It's all a mess. I hope people stop worshipping celebrities & politicians. You're seeing behind the curtain now. It's ugly.
LOL! They banned Will Smith for 10 years! Even after he resigned from the Academy! That's 2 years for each finger!🤚🏿Meanwhile, Roman Polanski is still being nominated for new Oscars. 🤡The national pastime of the US is punishing Black men disproportionately.
Keep in mind, there's no Oscars ban for Kevin Spacey, Roman Polanski, Casey Affleck, EVEN Harvey Weinstein is still a member and could attend if able... But Will Smith, right?
What Will Smith did was immature and stupid. However, the Academy threatening to strip him of his award while still letting people like Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski keep their awards, is just racist.
So @TheAcademy is fine with raving anti-Semites like Mel Gibson and known abusers like Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Harvey Weinstein, but Will Smith slapping a comedian is a step too far.This is a huge overaction and gross double standard.
“Will Smith bad” says the organization that celebrated Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein.
Don't let Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Chris Rock distract you from Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, and Harvey Weinstein.
I can’t believe Will Smith got banned from the Oscars for 10 years when so many abusers and predators received no punishment https://t.co/lz3PyQ2mXF
Will Smith is banned from the Oscars for 10 years. Will Smith needs to get away from Jada. I’m not placing the blame on the female for something a grown man who’s fully capable of controlling his own actions did but there is something to be said for being a catalyst.

One user pointed out that the Academy expelled Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski only “after extensive and intense public pressure”:

Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski were expelled from the Academy after extensive and intense public pressure. I shouldn't have included them in the original tweet and given the "Well, actually" brigade a crutch to hold on to. That was my error.

Reports suggest that Polanski was expelled from the Academy in 2018, nearly 30 years after pleading guilty to unlawful crimes against a minor. Producer Harvey Weinstein, who once had close ties with the Academy, was accused of assault by several women during the #MeToo movement.

The Academy expelled him in 2017 before he was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2020. Similarly, Bill Cosby was also removed from the organization in 2018 after being convicted of three counts of assault against women.

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In the wake of Will Smith’s ban from the Academy, fans drew comparisons between the actor’s act of violence and the heinous crimes committed by celebrities expelled in the past. The comparison also prompted social media users to question the harshness of the Academy’s decision.

As criticism continues to pour in online, it remains to be seen if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will address the situation in the days to come. Meanwhile, Smith has already accepted the ban and resigned from the Academy after the Oscars fiasco.


Edited by Ravi Iyer
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