Geri-Antics: The Slap Heard ‘Round the World

Published 11:02 am Sunday, April 3, 2022

It’s been over a week since both Will Smith and Chris Rock made fools of themselves in public and the media can’t get enough of it.
One must wonder if perhaps the buzz was the intended objective for one or both of the performers.
Just as children bully other children for any perceived physical anomaly, Chris Rock acted like a childish bully calling out Smith’s wife for an autoimmune disease which has rendered her bald.
At first, Smith good-naturedly laughed at Rock’s joke. But as soon as he saw his wife’s discomfort, he jumped up and perpetrated the physical assault on the comedian who moments prior made him laugh.
And just like a child seeking their parent’s attention and willing to accept negative attention in lieu of accolades, both men got that attention in spades.
As it so often does, the media once again provided reams of print publicity and broke the sound barrier with audio and video replays.
Which causes me to ponder — How many times have we seen footage of a felon who flashes an evil grin at the cameras? They are well-aware that they’ve achieved notoriety and that their photo and name will be publicized around the world.
Now, let’s imagine what might happen if whenever any offense to humanity occurred, a part of the perpetrator’s punishment was that their names and likenesses were forever banned from publication of any kind? Even jailhouse infamy would be negated, as other prisoners wouldn’t know each other’s crimes.
Think for a moment of a highly publicized crime. Are you more likely to remember the names and likeness of the victim or of the criminal?
Whose face did you see on TV every day of the O.J. Simpson trial? Did you hear more about the children killed in  school shootings or the life story of the shooter and speculations as to what caused him to act out?
Some agents and PR firms are known to plant negative publicity just to keep their client’s names in the public eye.
It has been suggested that Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl was an example of just such publicity-seeking by either her own representatives or that of Justin Timberlake who allegedly caused the costume to reveal Ms. Jackson’s breast..
So I ask you — is it just possible that the Oscar Night confrontation might have been a staged publicity ploy or were both actors, (who have been in the public eye long enough to know the impact of their actions) just guilty of poor judgement?
As a member of the journalistic community, I’d like to go on record as saying ‘Who Cares’. What I want to know is why we continue to give this matter air time.
More importantly, why is this worthy of even one moment of attention when every single day nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men who fall victim to far worse abuse than a staged slap on the face.
We seldom hear of these assaults until they result in loss of life.
I submit the reasons for this gross lack of our attention are multi-faceted: 1) There is still a stigma about disclosing abuse that occurs in the privacy of one’s home, 2) Fear of retribution prevents many victims from reporting the abuse. 3) No matter the severity of the abuse, nothing short of murder sells.
You might surmise that as a journalist, I just gave the topic of the smack heard ’round the world even more longevity; however, I hope that you will consider my conjecture that we, (the public and the media) are culpable for continuing to perform CPR on a,’dead horse’ that should never have been resuscitated beyond the apron of the Oscar stage.
Rather, we must stop making victims and heroes out of those who act/react impulsively and against society’s mores.
Shine the spotlight on the good deeds happening every day in your own world and allow the klieg lights to go dim on the world’s stage.

Anne Carmichael’s column Geri-Antics , which appears in many newspapers, can be reached at acarmichael07@gmail.com