Search icon


29th Mar 2022

Opinion: Will Smith’s slap is overshadowing all the good aspects of the Oscars

There was more to it than the slap.

The 94th Academy Awards were on Sunday night and unless you’ve just come out of a coma, the only thing people are talking about from it is Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.

Don’t get me wrong, the incident was awful and just plain awkward, I completely get why it’s taking over the internet. But it’s overshadowing all the incredible milestones that we saw at this year’s Oscars.

I do want to say, for the record, both men were wrong here. Joking about someone’s medical condition just isn’t funny, but reacting with violence on a globally watched award show isn’t the best either, no matter how offensive it was.

While the Oscars are far from perfect, there were a lot of big moments and massive achievements from this year’s ceremony, from heartwarming gestures to first time wins.

Ariana DeBose was the first openly queer woman of colour to win, Troy Kotsur was the first deaf man to win an award for acting, Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim person and the first person of Asian descent to win live action short.

The show made history, but because of the slap, it’s been completely overlooked.

We saw some incredibly heartwarming moments, too. Not only did Ariana DeBose make history winning, she also had a special moment with Rita Moreno on the red carpet and sat with her at the ceremony.

Rita won best supporting actress for her role as Anita in West Side Story in 1961, and Ariana won the same award for the same role 61 years later.

Not only did Troy Kotsur win for best supporting actor, but CODA won best picture. And nobody is talking about it.

This is a monumental moment for the deaf community, a film done completely through sign language and a cast of deaf actors, something that has not seen a big win like this at the Academy Awards before.

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson won for his documentary Summer of Soul, which is about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival and in the same year as Woodstock. Questlove dedicated his award to marginalised communities in a touching speech.

There were a lot of big anniversaries at this year’s show, with the stars of iconic films announcing many of the awards.

Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino all paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of Godfather. Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and Uma Thurman reunited for a Pulp Fiction get together, complete with the dance. The cast of Juno, Jennifer Garner, Elliot Page and J.K. Simmons, also presented an award, reuniting after their 2008 win.

But the best moment from the show which isn’t being talked about enough is the heartwarming interaction between Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli as they presented for Best Picture.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of her win for Cabaret at the 1972 Oscars, and as Liza got a well deserved standing ovation, Gaga said: “You see that? The public, they love you.

“You know how I love working with legends, and I’m honoured to present the final award of the evening with a true show business legend.”

Liza was clearly disoriented at times and kept looking to Gaga for support, and was heard saying “I don’t understand” at one point.

Before the video of the nominees was played, Gaga was seen leaning her head down to Liza’s ear and whispering words of encouragement before the winner was announced.

“I’ve got you,” Gaga could be heard saying. “I know, thank you,” Minnelli replied.

It was the moment that ended their time on the stage that really captured the hearts of viewers as they sang Cabaret’s opening song, Willkommen, together before Liza said: “I’m so happy to be here, especially with you. I’m your biggest fan.”

Honestly, Liza and Gaga could breathe and I’d be amazed, but this really was something so special.