Academy launches investigation into Will Smith's Chris Rock slap to 'explore further action and consequences'
The Academy has launched an investigation into Will Smith's conduct after the King Richard actor slapped comedian Chris Rock during Sunday night's live Oscars broadcast.
"The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law," the Academy wrote in a statement obtained by EW on Monday, hours after Smith hit Rock in the face over the comedian's joke about the hair of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, during the Oscars' Best Documentary Feature presentation.
The statement also came with an outline of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences code of conduct, which notes that members are expected to uphold "the Academy's values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity," and provides an "ethical framework" for how its members should behave.
The Academy recommends that they should engage only in "appropriate professional conduct in their interactions with all individuals whom they encounter in connection with their professional roles, including colleagues, production staff, and others in the film community." It also provides examples for things it will consider a violation of those ethics, including discrimination and inappropriate sexual contact in addition to any "physical contact that is uninvited and, in the situation, inappropriate and unwelcome."
Disciplinary action, per the standards, include suspension of membership or expulsion from the Academy. AMPAS may also enforce "private reprimand, public reprimand, temporary or permanent loss of privileges to attend and participate in Academy events or activities, temporary or permanent loss of eligibility to receive or hold or revocation of Academy awards or honors, temporary or permanent loss of eligibility to hold Academy service and volunteer roles, or other sanctions that the Academy in its sole discretion may deem appropriate."
As many users on social media have noted, the Academy has not publicly stripped Oscars from the likes of convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein, nor from someone like Mel Gibson, who previously came under fire for discriminatory remarks about Jewish people in the past.
Representatives for Smith did not respond to EW's request for comment on the slap during Sunday's Oscars telecast, and did not immediately respond to our follow-up request for comment on the Academy's most recent statement.
Show producer Will Packer, however, tweeted overnight that he "said it wouldn't be boring" with regards to the ceremony, later commenting in response to a user who accused him of making light of a serious situation.
"Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it. I don't feel the need to elucidate that for you," Packer tweeted. "But I also don't mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels."
After the show, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that Rock declined to press charges against Smith.
"LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program," a department spokesperson said. "The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report."
Following the moment, Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry approached the King Richard star on the floor of the Dolby Theatre. Around 20 minutes later, the 53-year-old again approached the stage to accept his Best Actor accolade for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.
"Art imitates life," Smith said, seemingly referencing the scuffle. "I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I'm the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."
The moment itself (as well as Smith's comments during his acceptance speech) drew ire from social media users, though stars like Tiffany Haddish and Janet Hubert defended Smith's actions.
The Smith family — including the couple's children Willow, Jaden, and Trey — was spotted at the Oscars afterparty following the altercation.
Rock did not respond to EW's request for comment, and has yet to post anything about the incident on social media.
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