And the Oscar goes to…

And the Oscar goes to…

I am really struggling with what happened at the Oscars and I feel the need to unpick why-but there is so much to unpick.

The joke. The reaction. The behaviour. The context. The state of the world.

The joke wasn’t funny to anyone, least of all to anyone suffering with alopecia. Like a lot of ‘jokes’ at the Oscars and other congratulatory, high profile celebrity events, they are meant to be deliberately inflammatory. Fun is poked and insults are thrown around at current affairs, political debacles and the lifestyles and affairs of the rich and famous-but of a medical, or physical condition? -there the line is drawn for me and you can snowflake me all you like.

Comedians live their life balanced precariously on the tightrope that separates humour and decency-the finest of lines that many fall from. Jimmy Carr, Ricky Gervais and Frank Skinner have all landed on the wrong side of the line and faced a public and professional backlash. But there is no such thing as bad publicity-right? and to this day they are all still in the business.

However, as inappropriate as Chris Rock was, it was Will Smith’s reaction and behaviour that bothered me even more. Despite past experiences that have triggered me to retreat at the sights and sounds of aggression, there was something so coldly arrogant and menacing about Smith’s behaviour that completely appalled me. The swift strutting gait of Smith verses the chuckling unawareness of Rock was a performance of an abuse of power and control that was disproportionate to the initial provocation. And then all the shouting and the swearing that just smacked of self importance and conceit.

If someone very publicly took the p**s out of my partner’s physical being would I be upset and embarrassed? Yes. Would I feel hurt for them? Yes. Would I feel angry? Yes. Would I react in that way? No. Would I let it go? Also no. There will always be a better time and a better place for a knee jerk reaction-or stunt.

A popular public opinion was that it was ‘good on Will Smith for taking action,’ Really? So we can all go around smacking people any time we like in the name of being insulted (and in the name of love apparently according to Smith)-and that’s OK?

Surely not.

I remember when there was public outrage and petitions a-plenty when Jeremy Clarkson got sacked from Top Gear for punching his producer. Clarkson et al gave a raft of reasons- personal stress, hunger, pressurised work, being antagonised and not being given what he wanted for dinner (erm welcome to the world, Jeremy). During my working life I have felt all of the above but I have never even contemplated punching my boss. Furthermore, if I did, I would be sacked on the spot and quite rightly too-no one would be petitioning for me to stay in role, or congratulating me on my actions.

And of course there are bigger world issues at stake that should absolutely take priority over a few egos. However, there does seem to be an acceptance of celebrity endorsed inappropriate behaviours that allow them to think they can do whatever they want. This double standard is ugly and unjust.

Unpicking summary:

  1. Comedians need to take ownership and be accountable for their choices on the bad days as well as the good.
  2. It is not OK to use violence because you or someone close to you has been ‘offended’.
  3. Money and fame should not make poor behaviour OK, or exclude you from common and decent rules of society.
  4. The Oscars viewing figures were at their lowest ever.

I bet they go up next year.



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