Academy Members Split on Will Smith Ban, Lots of Opinions & Blame-Laying
Will Smith‘s 10-year ban from the Oscars has left many in the Academy with mixed feelings — some think too harsh, others think too lenient … and some think it’s just right.
THR published several reactions from a handful of members — none of whom are on the Board of Governors — with many going on the record with how they feel about the decision doled out this week … namely, making WS persona non grata at the ceremony for a decade.
A good amount of these folks actually stuck up for Will, saying the punishment doesn’t fit the crime — including Stephen Potter of the Sound branch, Harry Shearer of the Actors branch and Beverly Walker of the Marketing/PR branch … who all felt this was punitive.
Harry (famous from “The Simpsons”) says, in part … “If Will Smith, or any other A-list actor, had run on stage and simply pulled down his pants and defecated, I seriously doubt he’d/she’d be back on that stage in 10 years, or ever … A decade-long ban seems oddly parental, as in, he’ll have outgrown his slappin’ phase by then.”
Beverly was firmly in Will’s corner, or rather … very much so NOT in Chris‘s — or any other comedian the Academy might hire as a host/presenter to roast the crowd.
She takes issue with “the Academy’s longstanding habit of hiring comedian/hosts to march out and insult or make fun of the very people being celebrated,” adding, “there have undoubtedly been some who would’ve liked to make some sort of protest” … and finishing by saying, “What Rock said was egregious and he had to know it would not be appreciated.”
Others took aim at Academy leadership itself — especially Prez David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson … whom many felt had screwed the pooch by failing to respond in the moment.
Mitchell Block — a doc-maker — put it well … “The board of governors should have reviewed why David Rubin and/or Dawn Hudson failed to have Will Smith immediately removed from the theater after he physically attacked one of the hosts.” He adds, “Their poor judgment demonstrated an inability to lead and be proactive under pressure and respond to this behavior. I am deeply disappointed that the governors did not censure them.”
And yet, even more came out swinging … saying Will deserved more severe consequences, like criminal charges and maybe outright disqualification from all things Oscars, forever.
Steven Scott summed it up like this … “I also am disappointed that Chris Rock and The Academy decided not to press charges for Will’s attack. What message are we sending — that when we’re assaulted, it’s best to just keep our ‘composure’ and not complain?”
He also addressed the whataboutism that has bubbled up — with many drawing comparisons over what happened to Will with others who they feel have perhaps done worse.
To that, Scott says … “Before someone tells me that other Hollywood A-listers have done awful things, yet kept their Oscars, none of them did their crimes live, on air, from the Academy home stage on our special night, in front of all the world to see.”
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
He adds, “There is no precedent for Will’s horrific physical and verbal assault, and the punishment should have been unprecedented as well. I am disgusted by my Academy’s appallingly weak, amoral, kowtowing-to-an-A-lister response.”
As you know … Will is OK with the Academy’s decision. And, while he can’t attend Academy Awards ceremonies or official events for 10 years — he can still be nominated for Oscars and even win Oscars … they’ll just have to mail him any would-be statuettes if that occurs.
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He also gets to keep his Oscar — so all things considered, really not all that bad.
What’ll be interesting to see is if his ban affects any votes for Oscar-worthy performances he churns out in 10 years’ time … and that may happen sooner than later. His “Emancipation” Apple film has gotten a lot of buzz, and it should be out in the next year or so.