You’d have to be living under a rock the last few days to not know that Will Smith infamously slapped Chris Rock across the face for making a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada. After storming the stage, physically assaulting Rock and then returning to his seat to shout obscenities to Chris to keep “[Jada’s] name out of his fucking mouth”, memes and discussions have run rampant.
Was he justified in standing up for his wife?
Was it all staged to drum up interest admist drowning viewership?
What if it’s neither of those things.
I don’t think we’re having the right discussion about Will Smith.
This isn’t a story about a man protecting his wife, it isn’t a story about being staged, and it isn’t even a story about comedians taking their jokes too far.
It’s a story about mental health and taking things at such face value that we overlook someone is drowning.
It’s a story about a man that’s been humiliated and emasculated, turned into a meme for showing emotion, and accepting whatever circumstances his wife required to desperately keep his family together.
“But they’re in an open marriage.”
A man doesn’t sob on national TV about his wife’s “entanglement” that he’s openly supportive of.
In the same way a woman might agree to a threesome in an effort to keep her husband happy despite her apprehensions, I think Will Smith was so desperate to cling to Jada, so desperate to keep his family together at any cost, he signed himself up for something he didn’t entirely want to sign up for.
When you love someone and they put you in a “I want this and in exchange you can do this” situation and you either acccept that or break the family up, it’s crazy some of the things people will agree to. People make these sort of compromises all the time in life only to realize they’re sick in the stomach for accepting them.
He wasn’t sticking up for her, he was trying to desperately prove himself to her like an abused dog looking back at the owner with a sense of “did I do good so you’ll love me still?”.
Will Smith has lost his identity. He doesn’t have self-confidence and he’s lacking self-esteem.
That’s crazy to imagine, but it’s equally crazy to imagine Robin Williams with depression.
Will Smith laughed and then he looked over and he realized Jada wasn’t. He didn’t want to disappoint her and so he walked on stage to grab a low hanging fruit method of “asserting his dominance” through the masculine association of violence and give the illusion of confidence in the same way that a woman whose been cheated on might put on her best lingerie and talk a little dirtier in hopes of sparking a new desire for her within him.
I think he’s in an unhealthy relationship where he’s verbally forgiven her in a desperate attempt to keep his family together, and yet goes to sleep every night knowing the woman he loved was face down, back arched, and raw dogged by other men.
That’s a difficult position to be in for anyone, even the likes of an award winning actor.
Does that mean Smith was justified? Absolutely not.
There’s not dismissing the blame of blantantly losing control of one’s actions and Chris Rock shouldn’t have to be on the receiving end of someone’s abuse just because that abuse can be blamed on mental health issues.
But it does present an important talking point about mental health, the obliviousness of it, and how people find themselves losing who they are in abusive relationships – turning into people they never imagined they’d turn into.
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