Dune ultimately emerged as the film with the most wins at Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, which also included a history-making victory for Apple’s CODA in the Best Picture category and a memorable performance from Beyoncé that opened the show. But it was a slap-centered onstage incident that continued to be the main source of discourse as of Monday morning, with surprised viewers still debating and speculating what transpired between Will Smith and Chris Rock.
As you’ve certainly seen in numerous tweets by now, the actor—who would shortly after be back onstage to accept an award for his acclaimed King Richard performance—was indeed seen appearing to slap Rock following a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” Rock said immediately after the slap, which was given an indirect reference during Smith’s subsequent Best Actor acceptance speech.
“I want to apologize to the Academy,” Smith said during an emotional speech. “I wanna apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not, I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine light on all of the people.”
By the morning, the Los Angeles Police Department had confirmed that Rock had declined to file a police report over the incident. The Academy, meanwhile, did not directly address the slap in its initial statement but did say that it “does not condone violence of any form.”
A number of artists and entertainers have since addressed the televised slap, including Jada’s Girls Trip co-star Tiffany Haddish, who told People the moment “meant the world” to her. “And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives,” she told the publication at the post-ceremony Governors Ball.
Nicki Minaj also shared a message of defense, saying that those watching this year’s Oscars were able to see “what happens in a man’s soul” when they see their partner “holding back tears from a ‘little joke’ at her expense.” Elsewhere amid her tweets about the incident, Minaj also said that she doesn’t believe that Rock would have made the G.I. Jane joke in question if he had known about Jada’s prior comments on her struggles with alopecia.
Speaking with People, Haddish said it “meant so much” to her to see “a Black man stand up for his wife.” And while Haddish—who will soon be seen in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent—noted that the world may not like “how it went down,” she still considered it “the most beautiful thing” she’s ever seen.
“As a woman, who has been unprotected, for someone to say, ‘Keep my wife’s name out your mouth, leave my wife alone,’ that’s what your husband is supposed to do, right? Protect you,” Haddish said. “And that meant the world to me. And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.”