Twenty-Two Observations From the Academy Awards Where Will Smith Smacked Chris Rock

Like, what?

Will Leitch
5 min readMar 28, 2022


  1. The Oscars are live, but they never seem live. The whole night is over-produced, over-scripted, over-performed, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s all about, and for, performers. The Oscars never have those live wire moments like “Saturday Night Live” does, or live sports does. Crazy things could theoretically happen. But they never actually do.
  2. Until, of course, this.
  3. There were a whole bunch of things that happened at the Oscars on Sunday night, but no one is ever going to remember any of them. Not after this:

4. There are two ways to look at this:

a: This was an out-of-control moment by a great American actor who had been scheduled to have a definitive career-capping moment by winning a Best Actor actor Oscar that disgraced not just himself but the event itself.

b: Wow, what incredible television.

5. I’m not sure there’s really a wrong answer here.

6. More on Will Smith in a bit! But there was still an actual show before and after, even if it didn’t feel that way.

7. For the second consecutive year, an Oscar night that was widely criticized in the days and weeks preceding it got off to a downright terrific start. Last year it was Regina King walking through Los Angeles’ Union Station, shot in glorious Soderbergh-vision by Steven Soderbergh (sorry, “Peter Andrews”), and this year it was Beyonce, introduced by the Williams sisters, performing her nominated “Be Alive” song from King Richard on the very same Compton tennis courts the Williams began their career. It’s not Beyonce’s best song, to say the least, but it was undeniably moving to see the glitzy Oscars open in Compton, on the actual Williams court. It evoked similar feelings to the Super Bowl, almost a bum rush of Black royalty to a traditionally lily-white event. It almost made you optimistic.

8. Then we cut back to the actual stage … and there was DJ Khaled introducing our strained, actively nervous hosts of Amy…



Will Leitch

I write about these tumultuous times 2x a week. Author of five books, including “How Lucky.” NYMag/MLB.. Founder, Deadspin.