According to The Hollywood Reporter, the decision to carry out a formal review of the incident was reached a few hours after Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson got on an emergency call, on Monday.
Shortly after this, the Oscars’ curators released a statement that read, “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
While the nature of action to be taken against Smith remains undisclosed, the actor will most likely not have his Best Actor Oscar revoked.
Smith earned his first-ever Oscar for his lead performance in the film King Richard, shortly after he walked on stage and struck Rock across the face for making a joke aimed at his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Cracking a joke on Pinkett’s shaved head, a result of her medical condition alopecia areata, Rock had said, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?”
Smith not only struck Rock on the face, but also yelled at Rock to leave his wife alone, after returning to his seat, to which the comedian said he was just making a “GI Jane” joke.
However, Smith once again shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Rock then said he was “going to” and concluded the tiff by saying, “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”
Even though Smith apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees in his acceptance speech, he did not extend any apology to Rock himself at the event. “I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees,” said Smith, tearing up during his acceptance speech.
His apology to Rock came hours later, on Instagram. Admitting that his behaviour was unacceptable and inexcusable, he said that a joke about his wife’s medical condition was too much for him to bear and he reacted emotionally. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” he added.
Earlier, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to Variety that Rock had declined to file a police report against Smith.
The incident became the most-talked about part of the Oscars evening and social media has been abuzz with all sorts of views on it.
A Twitter user wrote, “Imagine if Will Smith got up, picked the mic or whatever from Chris Rock and talked about his wife’s condition and how medical conditions shouldn’t be made fun of. Violence wasn’t the way. He could’ve also waved a hand and signalled him to stop.”
Another user wrote, “A man committed violence against another man and then everybody cheered him and acted like it was okay. Is that not a textbook definition of condoning violence?”
Others opined that Smith’s action was justified. “He responded to verbal abuse/violence. Do you defend someone making fun of people with horrible medical conditions? Would you stand up for your loved ones being treated like shit? Do you understand the concept of social consequence?” wrote a user.
Some netizens dug out Oscars’ history of honouring men like Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, and Woody Allen, among others, who have been accused of sexual assault and harassment.
While the Academy released a statement immediately after the incident on Sunday, stating that it does not condone violence of any form, the organisation was criticised for not handling the situation better. Some also noted that honouring Smith with an Oscar soon after the occurrence was equal to supporting his actions.