Will Smith Should Not Be Getting Blacklisted From Hollywood


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Isaac Hinson, Columnist

As I am sure we are all aware by now, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, overshadowing a ceremony otherwise worthy of the name the Oscars. With Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Picture wins for the magnificent and heart-warming CODA, the 6-win near-sweep for Dune and the 4 nomination and 1 win night for the masterpiece Drive My Car

But I don’t want to talk about the “incident” itself, or how much of a non-incident it actually was. I’d like to focus on what is happening to Will Smith’s career post-ceremony. Specifically, what seems to be trending towards Smith being blacklisted. 

For those unfamiliar with the term “blacklisted”, it essentially means that the person in question will no longer receive work in their field – despite being more than qualified – for one reason or another. For example, Colin Kaepernick has been blacklisted from the NFL after his protesting of police brutality during NFL games, despite still being an NFL-level player at the time of his blacklisting. 

To start, Will himself resigned from the Academy, before being outright banned for 10 years. Which, in fairness, was his own decision that he made on his own merit. However, alongside this was call for him to return his award, which is completely stupid. Would there simply be no Best Actor winner for this year? Would the Academy essentially hand out a second-place award? 

Two of Will Smith’s upcoming films, specifically the tentatively titled Bad Boys 4, and the Netflix original Fast and Loose – which was to be helmed by John Wick director David Lietch before he dropped out to focus on Fall Guy staring Ryan Gosling for Universal –  have both been put on hold as the studios “re-evaluate”. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Smith had received up to 40 pages of the Bad Boys 4 screenplay prior to the Oscars. 

It boggles my mind that this is being treated with such a high level of severity and initiative. Regardless of if you believe that Smith was in the wrong, this type of reaction is simply absurd. Especially in comparison to how both Hollywood and the Academy have handled other controversies. 

To start, Ansel Elgort, who has multiple allegations ranging from assault to harassment which came to light in 2020, is leading Tokyo Vice this year for HBOMAX. That is on top of praise and awards for his performance in West Side Story, and going on an expansive press tour which included an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Roman Polanski has quite literally been a fugitive of the United States since 1978 after forcing himself on a 13-year-old model and received a Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in 2003. They did not expel him from the Academy until 2018.

Casey Affleck received the Oscar for Best Actor in Manchester by the Sea in 2016 despite multiple allegations against him dating back to 2010. He has been continuing to receive work as recently as 2021s Every Breath You Take. He is still a member of the Academy. 

So I raise the question: is what Will Smith did anywhere near the level of atrocity that these men (and many more) have committed? And why is he receiving such more harsh punishment than them? It seems like we are making a far bigger deal of this than needs to be made.