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