Celebrities

Opinion: What to do with Will Smith’s anger

Opinion: What to do with Will Smith’s anger

Editor’s note: Jill Filipovich is a New York-based journalist and author of the bookOK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left BehindFollow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this comment are his own. see More opinions on CNN.



CNN

How does it feel to atone for a terrible mistake?

At last year’s Oscars, actor Will Smith shocked the nation when he took the stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock, taking a swipe at Rock Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who struggles with hair loss due to alopecia. For Assault, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences forbidden Smith from Oscar for the next 10 years.

The slap was stunning in part because of Smith’s reputation as a friendly family man, and in part because of the timing: For the past several years, Hollywood has been reckoning with the toll of abuse and mistreatment of men, though mostly women, of the #MeToo movement. The slap was an outrageous display of male violence disguised as chivalry—a man standing up for his wronged wife by hitting another man who insulted her.

There may have been an era in which Smith was widely admired for his work. Fortunately, this is not the case. But now the question is whether Smith was justified (he wasn’t). Whether he can ever get back into the public’s good graces and what it means to make amends. Smith has only recently emerged into the public eye, and how he conducted himself is a revealing window into the inadequacies of American society when it comes to violence — and forgiveness.

Smith is back in public life in an interview with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” to promote his new film “Emancipation,” the story of an enslaved man who not only escaped his captors but had a direct hand in the success of the abolitionist movement in the United States. Smith must have a personal and financial interest in the film doing well, which requires the public to go see it. But he also appeared to be taking responsibility for his actions, calling the Oscar slap a “terrible decision” and explaining that he was going through a difficult time personally — “not that it justifies my behavior at all,” he added. He said what was most painful to him was that his actions “made it difficult for other people. And it’s like I understand the concept where they say people hurt people.”

Although Smith failed to publicly apologize during his own Oscar speech immediately after the incident, apologizing for slapping multiple times, and Chris apologized directly to Rock. He also clarified that if members of the public do not want to pardon him, that is their prerogative. If one is not yet ready to see Smith’s picture, he told Fox 5 In Washington, D.C., “I would absolutely respect that and allow them to not have their place ready.”

The kind of violent reaction that Smith evoked on Rock is a huge problem in the United States, often made infinitely worse by our vast supply of weapons among the civilian population. We are a nation where many people meet violent deathAnd it often treats violence — and gun violence in particular — far too permissively.

But we are also a country that can be extremely compassionate and unforgiving, yet practically puritanical in our desire to divide people into good and bad. Even though the rate of people behind bars has decreased, we still do Jail a higher Ratio Our population from elsewhere in the world – and that hasn’t made us safer.

So here we are: we do little to prevent deadly violence that is very preventable. But with little or no plan for rehabilitation, treatment or reintegration into society, we lock people up, often for unusually long periods, for bad (and often non-violent) acts.

Losing Will Smith fans isn’t like locking someone up and throwing away the key. But our punitive tendencies in our criminal justice system are also reflected in our cultural punishments and in our wildly inconsistent standards of behavior.

Smith has (correctly) been under scrutiny for months for slapping another man, even though he has apologized, and otherwise appears to be leading an upbeat life. But other serial horror celebrities are welcomed back into the fold, or never pushed out of it—to cite just two, such as men. Chris BrownWHO Convicted of felonious assault He viciously beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna and has since had a series of violent outbursts, including accusations of abusing and raping women (to which he responded by selling “this b!tch lyin'”, in addition to denying the allegations). T-shirt), or men like former President Donald Trump, who has faced multiple allegations of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct (all of which he denies).

That doesn’t mean we should lower the bar so men like Brown and Trump can clear it. It is to say that we should be thoughtful and consistent. Those who dismiss (by their actions and words) the seriousness of abuse and mistreatment of others do not deserve our attention, our votes, or our money. People who remain generally upbeat but have made a terrible mistake, own it and try to make amends don’t necessarily deserve a public and immediate apology, but they should be met with an open mind. They shouldn’t be defined by the worst decision they’ve made and shouldn’t necessarily lose their livelihood.

This can be a difficult balance to strike. But there are dangers in feeding An insatiable appetite for public shamingNever letting any apology be enough, and reveling in the sight of prostrate yourself before an unforgiving public.

In Smith’s case specifically, he made a mistake that he believed to be terrible. It is important to send and reinforce the message that violence is wrong. But it’s also important that humans are fallible creatures, and part of the kind of society we want to build is not just to discourage and punish violence, but to encourage grace, mercy, and compassion. These gifts – compassion, mercy, empathy – are, fortunately, unlimited resources. With Will Smith’s guidance we can spread them around.




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