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Last night saw the 2022 Oscars, with the 94th Academy Awards being a historic year for women in film.
With Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes at its helm, the show was not only hosted by women, but also saw them triumph in categories that have long been dominated by men.
Jane Campion became the third woman ever to win a Best Director award and Billie Eilish won an Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘No Time to Die’ in the latest James Bond instalment. Director Sian Heder also made history, taking home two Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture for her feature film, Coda. And Ariana DuBose became the first openly queer woman of colour to win an Academy Award for acting, with her Best Supporting Actress win for her role in West Side Story. The Queen of Basketball won for Best Short Documentary Subject and Jessica Chastain campaigned against honour killings in her Best Actress acceptance speech.
In short – women dominated the 2022 Academy Awards.
There is no doubt that last night was a momentous evening for women in Hollywood, but sadly nobody is talking about it this morning. Instead, everyone is preoccupied by an act of male violence over a joke at a woman’s expense.
While presenting the award for Best Documentary, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, with the actress having recently shaved her head as a result of her alopecia. Her husband Will Smith, who later won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in King Richard, rushed onto the stage and slapped Rock across the face.
“Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,” Smith shouted at Rock, before the comedian continued with the show, announcing Questlove’s Summer of Soul as the winner of the Best Documentary category.
Within minutes, social media was inundated with videos and memes of ‘the Will Smith slap’, with one Twitter user posting: “I don’t know who won anything at the Oscar’s, but I’ve seen Will Smith’s slap picture 50 times already.”
In fact, it was sadly only a small minority who were celebrating the wins – many of which were historic.
“OK yes Will Smith slapped Chris Rock BUT JANE CAMPION JUST WON!,” posted one Twitter user.
Another read: “Questlove just won a fucking Oscar for an incredible, invaluable piece of cultural reclamation. Jane Campion finally won her Oscar. Troy Kotsur and Ariana DeBose made history. And no one is going to be talking about any of these things tomorrow.”
“I know the big story is the slap, but congratulations to Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes & Regina Hall who were very funny,” former Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel posted to Twitter. “I hope that isn’t overshadowed by the unpleasantness #Oscars.”
“Let’s take a moment from talking about men not being able to control their rage because that happens all the time,” another user posted to Twitter. “What doesn’t happen all the time? Women being nominated, much less winning, Best Director. Congratulations Jane Campion.”
“Violence isn’t ok. Assault is never the answer,” Sophia Bush shared to Twitter on the night. “Also? This is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the #Oscars stage, & tonight he went after her alopecia. Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather.”
There are clearly multiple layers and history to the incident between Smith and Rock, and the King Richard actor has since apologised to the Academy. But one thing was undeniable – that an incredible and historical night for women was overshadowed by an act of male violence and a woman once again being made the butt of the joke.
Our thoughts are with Jada Pinkett Smith. And our congratulations go to Jane Campion, Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, Ariana DeBose, Sian Heder and every other woman who was part of last night’s momentous progress that is going uncelebrated.
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