On Monday this week, I switched on Radio 4 at 7am for the news and found it dominated by the story from the Oscars; actor Will Smith hitting compere Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife. Now film and TV would not be my specialist subject on Mastermind and whilst even I have heard of Will Smith, I had no idea who Chris Rock was. But the story has continued to roll, even on Radio 4.
From what I have subsequently discovered, it appears Messrs Smith and Rock have previous form; once friends, they fell out some years ago. As far as I can tell, the general reaction has been to condemn Smith’s violence, whilst perhaps having some sympathy for his anger. There seems some sadness that the ceremony will not be remembered for Smith’s Oscar, but for his temper; perhaps a man trapped by past events.
My own reflections on this story lead to the story of another slap; that given to the face of Jesus by those who judged him before the court of the High Priest, after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. But Jesus, who famously taught that his disciples should literally turn the other cheek in response to an attack, made no show of anger and raised no voice of protest. He simply absorbed the insults and violence and, from the cross, forgave. Perhaps the parties to the Oscar slap may also learn how forgiveness can free them from the past.