Will Smith has received a 10-year ban from the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock at this year’s award show.
In a statement released on April 8, 2022, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said, “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.”
Being banned from events means Smith will have to miss special screenings and all of the festivities during Oscar Week.
The 10-year ban seems a tad excessive given that this was a singular even, and, frankly, not that serious when put into context.
Harvey Weinstein was banned from the Oscars following the public uncovering of his decades-long patterns of abuse. He was accused of sexual assault by over 80 women in the film industry.
He was known in Hollywood circles for forcing himself on women, offering roles in exchange for sexual favors and threatening victims. Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for his crimes.
Weinstein was banned from the Oscars in 2017, but he’s been allowed to keep his Oscars. Smith’s ban to a potential revoking of Weinstein’s awards isn’t a one-to-one comparison, but one must consider the difference in the severity of offenses. There should be a far greater a distinction between how the Academy treats smacking someone once versus 30 years of being Hollywood’s most notorious sex criminal.
For a more one-to-one comparison, see film director Roman Polanski. Polanski pled guilty to drugging and having sex with a 13-year-old girl. While awaiting sentencing, Polanski fled the country for Europe.
Polanski’s expedition took place in 1978, but he wasn’t banned from the Oscars until 2018. For comparison, Will Smith was banned only two weeks after the slap.
Polanski was convicted of statutory rape, and the Academy needed the time from the Carter administration to the Trump administration to consider his standing.
While mulling it over, the Academy awarded Polanski best director in 2003 for “The Pianist.” He even received a standing ovation at the awards ceremony.
The ovation is indicative of the feelings held by a large portion of the film industry toward Polanski. His crimes were not enough to stop the industry from working with and awarding him.
Over 100 people in the film community signed a petition asking for their favorite pedophile to be freed when he was arrested in Switzerland and facing extradition.
Being awarded and given a standing ovation after being convicted of such heinous crimes is something that could only happen in Hollywood.
Banning Will Smith from the Oscars for 10 years is a few steps too far. A one or two-year ban would be reasonable in a vacuum, but when compared to the transgressions of others in Hollywood, any punishment at all seems unjust.
If the Academy wants to avoid the rehashing of its past mistakes and discussions of Hollywood’s toxic culture, it should rethink its decision.
Frank Kidd is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Springfield.