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One year later, Chris Rock talks about the slap at the Oscars

The Academy has created a crisis team to prevent a recurrence of the moment between the comedian and the performer.

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the 94th Oscars Awards

Cordon Press

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The slap Will Smith gave Chris Rock at the 94th Oscars was one of the most talked about moments of the ceremony. Twelve months later, the comedian decided to talk about the controversy. He did so on the Netflix special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, where he claimed that the slap Smith gave him "still hurts."

You know what happened. That mother***** slapped me at the Oscars and people ask me 'did it hurt?' It still hurts, I have the blow ringing in my ear, but I am not a victim. You'll never see me on Oprah (Winfrey) or Gayl (King) crying, it's never going to happen. I took the hit like (boxer Manny) Pacquiao.

However, Chris Rock claims that Will Smith was not really hurt by the comments the comedian dedicated to his wife, but was actually disappointed by the deception he had suffered at the hands of Jada Pinkett Smith. Something for which, he assured, he is not responsible:

I did not have any entanglement. We have all been fooled, everyone in this room has been fooled, none of us have been interviewed by the person who fooled us on television. She hurt him a lot more than he hurt me.

He also dedicated words to Will Smith. He explained that he had always been an actor whose films he enjoyed. I considered him a great interpreter. However, after the moment at the Oscars, his perspective changed. Now, he likes to watch Smith's new series, Emancipation, to see him suffer: "I've loved Will Smith all my life. I've supported Will Smith all my life... now I watch Emancipation just to see him get his ass kicked."

In addition, he also explained why he decided not to hit back. It was not for lack of desire, but because his parents had taught him to behave better. And even more so at an event as big as the Oscars: "A lot of people have asked me, how come you didn't do anything that night? Because I have parents and they taught me not to fight in front of white people."

Academy tightens rules

Chris Rock chose not to respond to Will Smith's slap, but the Academy did take action. First, they accepted the King Richard actor's resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They also vetoed his attendance at the gala for the next ten years. These were not the last actions they took to avoid a situation like last year. As Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Bill Kramer explained to Time magazine, a strategy has been devised to avoid another slap in the face at the Oscars:

We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place. We’ve run many scenarios. So it is our hope that we will be prepared for anything that we may not anticipate right now but that we’re planning for just in case it does happen.

As Kramer explained, the objective of this "crisis team" is to anticipate. They want to avoid a repeat of last year at all costs. If something similar happens, they have also created strategies to issue a statement more promptly than last year:

Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars. But these crisis plans—the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place—allow us to say this is the group that we have to gather very quickly. This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement. And obviously depending on the specifics of the crisis, and let’s hope something doesn’t happen and we never have to use these, but we already have frameworks in place that we can modify.

The team, for the moment, seems to be working. Bill Kramer explained that they had to set it up during the announcement of the nominees for the 95th edition when discussions began over the campaigns of the candidates who were in the running for a statuette:

I think that’s why we were much more ready to handle the campaign regulations discussion after nominations. You know, that happened on a Tuesday and, six days later, we were able to issue our formal statement from the board that really carved out a plan for us. So you never know exactly what’s going to happen. But you have to have the teams and frameworks in place and the processes in place, to come together to figure things out quickly. But also making sure that you have the right groups of members and leaders and stakeholders who can come together to have a voice in this conversation. That’s also very key. And again, we’ve run some great scenarios, but as you said, the specifics may change, and we’ll see what happens.