Dissecting the Awkwardness of Will Smith’s Oscars Incident

Let’s pop psychology this sucker

Jamie Jackson
6 min readMar 29, 2022


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I don’t really have an opinion on what happened when Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars.

I’ve seen a lot of hot takes on this, some supporting Smith for protecting his wife, others lampooning him for being so easily offended. Some strongly condemn his violence.

Whatever your thoughts, that’s not what interested me. What I found great joy in was the plethora of human behaviour played out in those magical and bizarre 30 seconds.

The first thing to note was Will Smith initially laughed at the joke about his wife. We all saw him laughing as she rolled her eyes and the next thing you know the gigantic man was storming on stage to confront the diminutive Chris Rock.

So what the fuck happened in the few seconds? My bet Smith politely laughed, showbiz face on as per normal, then turned to see Jada, his spouse, looking upset.

That’s not the fascinating bit. It’s what happens immediately next in Will Smith’s head that fascinating. Something inside of him, for reasons we can only guess, hits the panic button. Fight or flight. Beating or bitchhood. He needs to act.

So without thinking (I doubt any thinking was involved and it was all instinct), Smith decides to get jiggy with it and gets out of his chair to step onto the stage.

This is where shit gets real. He’s had a second or two for his brain to engage and he starts to think. The first thought is probably “What am I about to do? Well, I can’t back down now, I’m on stage. I’m literally on the Oscars’ stage on live television. Holy shit. I’ve committed. Oh fuckety-fuck what am I doing?!”

It’s a long walk from the stage edge to Chris Rock. Count it. It’s about 5-seconds, even with Smith’s humongous stride. That a lot of seconds when you a) Don’t know what you're doing b) The world is watching c) You can’t back down.

Chris Rock is laughing the whole time. I’m not sure whether it’s because he’s a comic and that’s his job, or he thinks this is a joke and is wildly underestimating Smith’s intentions. But he must have been looking at Smith’s stern face. He even wrinkled his own face up, waiting to be hit.



Jamie Jackson

Between two skies and towards the night. // Email me: jamiejacksonati [at] gmail [dot] com