Comedian Chris Rock finally addressed, what has largely been dubbed as “the slap heard around the world,” nearly a year after actor Will Smith slapped the comedian on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards.
“I’m going to try to do a show tonight without offending nobody. I’m going to try my best, because you never know who might get triggered,” said Rock, during the opening of his livestreamed show in Baltimore.
“People always say words hurt. Anybody who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.”
In the newly-released Netflix special, “Selective Outrage,” Rock hit back during his stand-up routine and shared his thoughts on the incident. He said he’s “not a victim, baby.”
“You all know what happened to me, getting smacked by Suge Smith,” Rock said. “It still hurts. I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears. But I’m not a victim, baby. You’ll never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying… I took that hit like Pacquiao.”
During last year’s Academy Awards, Rock, who was presenting an award, cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. In a tense and shocking onstage altercation, Smith stunned audiences by walking onto the Oscars stage and striking the presenter.
Later in the evening, Smith apologized to the Academy and fellow nominees in a tear-filled speech after accepting the Oscar for the best actor for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, in the biopic “King Richard,” but did not mention or apologize to Rock directly.
Following that night, Smith resigned his membership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the organization behind the Oscars — and the academy banned the actor from any academy event or program, including the Oscars, for 10 years.
Smith later addressed the incident directly in a video posted to social media and apologized to Rock. At the time, Smith said he had reached out to Rock, who responded that he was “not ready to talk.”
“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” Smith said in the video. “My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
In his latest special, Rock seemed to respond to Smith’s apology.
“I love Will Smith, my whole life,” Rock said. “I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life … now I watch ‘Emancipation’ just to see him get whupped.”
Rock also said people have since asked him: “How come you didn’t do nothing back [to Smith] that night?”
“Because I got parents,” the comedian said. “You know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of White people.”