Will Smith’s slap overshadowed his Oscars moment of glory - 5 things to remember when considering violence

Will Smith’s Oscar moment will always be overshadowed by the moment just before it; his live performance of violence in front of millions, writes Amana Walker

So, Will Smith finally wins an Oscar after giving the performance of his life, and yet, his big moment is overshadowed by one of his worst performances.

Of course, it’s all a matter of opinion, isn’t it? I know that.

A man sees his wife very publicly insulted by another man in what was meant to be a joke, but when he sees the impact it has on her, he decides to act.

The Academy Awards (Oscars to you and me) is infamous for many unintended shock moments over the years and there’s been no shortage of comedians boldly having a laugh at the expense of others. This time it was American comedian Chris Rock.

But on this occasion the joke, directed at Jada Pinkett Smith (and wife of Will) about her shaved head hit hard - she suffers from alopecia (hair loss).

Seeing the reaction on her face, Will decides to walk up to Chris and physically whack him across the face in front of millions.

There will be many people out there now applauding Will for taking a stand and defending his wife at such a public event, and there will be many others who believe that this is surely not the behaviour we want to see from anyone in 2022, especially a professional Oscar-winning actor.

When faced with pivotal moments in life, we all have a choice - Will’s was to react the way he did. You might have done the same, but there are other options if you don’t want to resort to violence on the spot.

Here are a few things to consider:

Violence doesn’t solve anything

US actor Will Smith (R) approaches US actor Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

It might feel good to let rip and hit someone, especially if your reasons for doing it are strong.

One of the downsides though is that you become part of the problem, your actions are no better than those of your attacker, in fact you could have more to lose.

Taking action in the heat of the moment is necessary if it’s in self-defence and if needed to save your life. But in most life situations, our anger is fuelling our behaviour.

The battle you face first, is the one in your head

You’re frustrated, furious, fed up or facing humiliation.

You could fly off the handle and react on the spot (a la Will Smith), or you could hide in a corner and hope that no one sees you, at least then you won’t have to deal with it.

Or you could go with a third option: allow yourself to cool down, get clear about whatever it is you’re not happy about, decide on the action you want to take, and choose when to take it. This way, you are managing your head, rather than it managing you and are less likely to resort to any kind of violence.

The greatest satisfaction often comes with staying cool.

Reputation matters

Now, we may not be famous actors or comedians, but there’s a very good chance that we will have people around us who respect us and even look up to us.

Our colleagues at work, our friends, our family and those people who don’t even know us, but have a perception of who they think we are. Reputation is worth protecting, because sure, there will be those who cheer us on for ‘fighting back’, but there’ll be a lot more who admire us for being the person they know us to be.

So ask yourself: Is this behaviour a true reflection of who I am? Is this how I want people to remember me? Is this the behaviour of a role model? Is there a better way of handling this?

Managing the aftermath

Violent behaviour (verbal or physical) can feel like the right thing to do at the time, but after that, we have to face the music.

Inevitably, there will be some form of backlash and you may have to spend many months or years apologising for your behaviour, make promises to not do whatever it is you’ve done again, and work hard to repair any damage you’ve caused. Some people never recover from this.

This is where you’ll feel the benefit if you’ve chosen to stay calm and save your response until you’ve cooled down. Now you can talk rationally about what happened, you can tackle the problem (or person) and stay controlled when you’re making your point about what happened and why you never want to see it again.

You can ask for and expect an apology knowing that you’re in the driving seat. There’s no stronger place to be and you’re likely to win a whole new set of admirers.

Be remembered for the right reasons

It has taken Will years to finally win an Oscar, for what was a brilliant performance in the film ‘King Richard’ as the father who fiercely protected his daughters, the tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and who masterminded their careers. He made sacrifices and fought hard to get them to the top.

We do extraordinary things to protect those closest to us, and for usually - at least at the time - all the right reasons.

When you look back over your career and life, do you want to be remembered for all the things you worked hard for, all the things you did for others and for behaviour that would make you proud?

If you do, don’t allow one moment of stupidity to change it.

His big Oscar moment will always be overshadowed by the moment just before it; his live performance of violence in front of millions.

That’s a shame.

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