Will Smith, Chris Rock, & The Slap Heard Around The World

Will Smith Slap

Celebrities Get A Free Pass

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “accountability” is defined as the fact or condition of being required or expected to justify or take responsibility for one’s actions and decisions. Accountability is a principle we begin teaching our youth from the earliest ages of communication. Both at home and at school, children face punishment for doing wrong: grounding for coming in late after curfew, time out for throwing a tantrum, detention for skipping class. Why is it that we expect children to learn to be accountable for their actions when we, as a society, do not uphold the same standards for celebrities?

Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars

At the 2022 Oscars, Will Smith acted with emotional immaturity and physically assaulted another individual. In daily life, if one individual were to physically assault another, they would face persecution. They might spend time in jail. They might be banned or suspended from a business. They might have to pay a fine. They are expected to take responsibility for their actions by facing repercussions. The treatment of celebrities cannot be different. Though Chris Rock decided not to press charges, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has an obligation to uphold the standards of their organization and the precedence of behavior they have established at their events. Will Smith should be banned from consideration for future awards and should not be invited to attend any future events hosted by the Academy. Smith should also be required to issue a public apology, not only to Chris Rock but also to the Academy and its attendees.

Celebrities are role models. Celebrities are influencers.

When we allow celebrities to act in any manner with no punishment, we are teaching our kids that the same can apply to them. As a high school teacher, I see this on a regular basis. In a time of recovery after two years of low rigor and low student accountability due to the global pandemic, students are not afraid of punishment. For two years, students were given a pass as learning conditions were less than ideal, and emotional/mental/physical health was a concern for so many. They were not expected to take responsibility for their actions. Generally speaking, adolescents are now at a point where they do not expect to face the consequences of their actions. Schools across the country are facing a rise in unruly student behavior. When these students are looking up to celebrities, influences, and professional athletes that are given the same passes in real life for any given reason, it reinforces the idea that consequences do not exist for them. Consequences exist in real life. The next generation has to learn this.

The Academy’s mission is to recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences. To recognize and uphold excellence, you must also recognize wrongdoings. The Academy, Will Smith, and all others in a position of influence must model holding all people accountable for their wrongdoings.

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