More Culture:

March 05, 2023

Chris Rock jokes about Will Smith's Oscars slap, Jada Pinkett Smith cheating scandal during Netflix special

Along with his discussion of the incident at the 2022 Academy Awards, Rock riffed on a variety of controversial topics during the streaming service's first livestreaming event

Entertainment Netflix
chris rock netflix comedy special will smith oscars slap Netflix Is A Joke/Youtube

During Chris Rock's hour-long Netflix comedy special, he openly discussed the 2022 Oscars incident in which Will Smith slapped him onstage, slamming Smith's marriage and his "selective outrage."

Nearly a year after Philadelphia native actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock onstage at the Academy Awards, the public has wondered how — or if — Rock would respond.

On Saturday, March 4, Rock performed in the first livestreaming event ever offered to Netflix subscribers, and during the comedy special he openly discussed the 2022 Oscars incident.

“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,” Rock said as he opened the show. “People always say words hurt … anybody who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.”

During the hour-long special, which was filmed at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, Rock riffed on a variety of topics, some more controversial than others. He discussed dating, addiction, racism, a divided America, the Kardashians, his two daughters, abortion, Meghan Markle, woke culture and the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack.

He hinted at his beef with Smith a couple times throughout, noting that the last thing he needs is "another mad rapper." Rock also foreshadowed his discussion of "selective outrage," which he described as an offshoot of woke culture in which the public cancels one person over an offense, but chooses not to cancel someone else who commits the same offense. The term gave the Netflix special its title and would be the centerpiece of Rock's bit about the 2022 Oscars.

The moment most audience members and Netflix viewers were likely waiting for, though, came with less than 10 minutes left, when he finally broached the topic of Smith. Although Rock notes that he grew up loving and rooting for Smith, he spent the remainder of his set slamming Smith and his marriage.

“You all know what happened to me," 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."

He poked fun at the disparity in size between Smith and himself, before labeling Smith as having experienced "selective outrage" when he slapped Rock during the 2022 Oscars after Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith while presenting an award. Rock called Pinkett Smith "G.I. Jane," referencing her bald head. Pinkett Smith, who has publicly revealed she has alopecia, did not enjoy the remark, and while her husband initially laughed at the joke, his opinion seemed to quickly change as he stormed the stage and hit Rock. 

Rock said that the attack had less to do with himself and Pinkett Smith — who he claims started an ongoing feud with him when Smith was not nominated at the 2016 Oscars for his performance in "Concussion" — and more to do with the complicated relationship between Smith and Pinkett Smith.

"Everybody that really knows knows I had nothing to do with that s***," Rock said. "I didn't have any 'entanglements.'"

Rock was referring to July 2020, when Jada revealed she had an "entanglement" with singer August Alsina years earlier when she and Smith were on a break. He made fun of the fact that Smith joined an episode of his wife's Red Table Talk show to discuss the situation.

"We all been cheated on; Everybody in this industry has been cheated on," Rock said during the special, "None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television ... She hurt him way more than he hurt me, okay?"

To end his discussion on Smith, Rock revealed the reason he didn't fight back after Smith hit him onstage.

"You know what my parents taught me? Don't fight in front of white people," Rock said, before dropping his microphone to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Based on the flood of social media posts that soon followed, the public response to Rock's show is divided. Some praised Rock's handling of Netflix's first live show and his openness in discussing the Oscars incident, while others expressed disappointment over his jokes about women and Black people.

Neither Smith, who was banned from the Academy Awards for 10 years following the onstage slap, nor Pinkett Smith have publicly responded to Rock's remarks yet.

“Chris Rock: Selective Outrage” can be streamed now on NetflixViewers can also get a behind-the-scenes look at the year leading up to Rock's historic performance in a special posted to Youtube.

Follow Franki & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @wordsbyfranki | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Have a news tip? Let us know.