The theme of the 2022 Oscars was “Movie Lovers Unite”. For Chris Rock and Will Smith, the reunion was more dramatic — and painful — than the academy could have planned or wanted.
In what will surely be the show’s most talked-about moment, Smith, the nominee and eventual best actor winner for “King Richard,” slapped the comedian onstage, to the confusion of the ABC audience, for whom the incident was almost entirely bleeped. (Reports from inside the Dolby Theater indicated that Smith struck Rock in response to a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.)
This was probably not the way the show’s producers wanted to put the movies back at the center of the cultural conversation.
Until the dust-up, the nominees and presenters seemed excited to be reunited, social distance be damned, and the energy came through vibrantly in the broadcast.