There are very few people who don’t know what happened during the Oscars, which aired Sunday, March 27, 2022. It seems to be all anybody was talking about by Monday morning. I had actually stopped watching to watch a movie, and suddenly started getting news alerts about what happened. Videos had already been posted everywhere to see the instant replay.
I listened from the beginning of Chris Rock’s set until he finished speaking. Watch an uncensored video of it here. The joke Chris Rock made took a shot at Jada Pinkett Smith, referencing “GI Jane, Part 2,” comparing her head to that of Demi Moore when she shaved it to play G.I. Jane in the first movie.
As I began speaking with people about it, I noticed many of the people I spoke with felt Will Smith was out of line. I did not. I felt a little bit vindicated myself by what he did. Let me explain why.
Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, openly disclosed to the public that she suffered from a medical condition called alopecia, which caused her hair to fall out. Rather than put on a wig, or even a scarf or a hat, she bravely wore her natural look, a look many have voluntarily worn, even without a medical condition. She was STUNNING exactly as she was! I didn’t even know about the medical condition, and I didn’t assume there had to be one.
Once I learned about the joke and saw Will Smith’s reaction, along with his wife’s face, I was floored. As a person who struggles with an autoimmune condition and is immunocompromised, I live every day with many of the negative effects of my medical condition on my ability to have a social life or even a regular normal life. There are so many things we go through, from losing friends and family, to losing pieces out of our bodies, to losing our dignity, losing our privacy, and just being subjected to ignorant and downright mean comments.
I am certain if his wife had cancer, the joke would never have been made. But when it comes to any other condition, people tend to lose their inhibitions and do everything from change their relationship with you, to suggesting bizarre things that anybody would have already considered as if you hadn’t thought to pray, exercise or take some special water from a healing rock in New Zealand. (I’ve heard it all. There are lists. With the most common ridiculous suggestions we get.)
So when I sit and think about the indignity Will Smith’s wife must have felt when a joke was made about her medical condition, I feel the same rage she felt, and that he felt on her behalf. Having been a caretaker for somebody with cancer, and now being a professional patient, I’ve seen both sides of that stick. They are equally tragic. We deal with enough loss, trauma, depression, and anxiety without people going out of their way to point out symptoms of our medical conditions or simply be repulsively mean-spirited!
I felt so strongly that I began to feel angry when people responded that Will Smith was out of line, and not Chris Rock. When a doctor said the same thing, I felt like I needed to check myself. I contacted a friend who is “living while dying,” with stage IV metastatic and terminal breast cancer, and who runs an amazing blog about it (nohalfmeasures.blog), and asked if she felt what I did.
It’s easy to see why we are friends. She had actually already created a blog post about the same issue and she felt exactly the same way I did, along with some extra things she noticed that you will have to read in her blog when it posts. Check out her blog, linked below!
But I was grateful. I was grateful that I wasn’t the only person who was not only 100% in Will Smith’s corner, but I felt a sense of vindication on behalf of every person who has struggled with cruelty on top of a serious or embarrassing medical condition. I felt as if that slap landed one point in our corner. Just ONCE!
I’ve heard that he’s a comedian and an actor, and he should know how to take jokes. A joke is something that is funny. Making fun of somebody’s medical condition is not funny. If you don’t understand this, you or someone you love has not experienced that kind of cruelty. Much less on a stage, being broadcast publicly and live.
Yes, he is an actor. Yes, he is a comedian. However, he is also a human being. And this just goes to show that even celebrities are not exempt from the emotional and highly charged issues people with medical conditions deal with every day. There was a rage inside of him that didn’t allow him to do anything other than what he did. His apology to everyone that deserved one did an excellent job of explaining that. Nothing could come closer to what he experienced than a parent protecting his child from intentional harm by someone else.
That is exactly the level of rage we experience when somebody is nasty to our loved ones who are already sick and struggling. In fact, I wonder if we could even angrier as the caretakers. Sometimes the patient’s themselves are already defeated, weak, ill and accustomed to the abuse, etc. That is when the caretaker becomes the most enraged. I remember very clearly some of the ways that I advocated on behalf of my late husband as he suffered from skin cancer that spread to his lungs and brain, and ultimately took him from us.
Having lived that, and watching his children grow up without him, still suffering because of that horrific disease, and having also lived and still living with an auto immune condition that has completely wrecked my life, I feel every bit of the rage that led to what Will Smith did, and the sadness and pain in his very authentic apology and explanation.
This is real life, folks! This is what we deal with every day. And most of the time, nobody stands up and smacks somebody who disrespects us on such a deep level. WE don’t even do it! Is it violence? Yes. Is it possibly illegal? Yes. And if you think violence and breaking the law are never necessary, I challenge you to look up how America was obtained by Americans, and what our response is once someone threatens OUR country. History has shown repeatedly that violence is sometimes the only thing that works. It’s a sad, but true, fact.
So on behalf of everybody suffering from a medical condition that causes embarrassment or interferes with their lives in any way that results in blows to their dignity, I want to thank Will Smith. Thank you, for landing one solid “blow” on behalf of every single one of us. We tearfully appreciate it!
If you are one of those people who thinks he shouldn’t have done what he did, I would like to challenge you to contact somebody you know who is suffering from such a medical condition and is willing to speak with you, and ask them how they feel about it. I suspect the majority of them will feel the same way my friend and I did.
That said, I welcome all viewpoints. Especially from people who fit the category of people living with medical conditions as described above.
I hope everybody will at least take a second to think about how much we go through. Not only the conditions we already deal with, but having dealt with them during a pandemic, when vaccines did not prove effective for many of us as restrictions and masks were discarded by so many people. When we have watched several people with our conditions die from those conditions and know that we may be next.
It’s a lot. It’s heavy. So much heavier than having been slapped on a stage for making one of the most inappropriate jokes I have ever heard on such a stage.