The never-ending saga of slapgate continues as actor Harry Lennix has given his opinion on Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. Lennix wrote an op-ed for Variety in which he states the case for Smith needing more punishment than just being banned for 10 years. He believes that Smith’s Oscar should be taken away.
In the op-ed, he states that the Academy’s punishment was “little more than an extended time out for a playground bully” and “a toothless penalty that lays bare the shallowness of Hollywood morals.”
“He needs to come to grips with the gravity of the offense he committed: slapping Rock, live on March 27 in front of millions on the Academy Awards stage. Smith needs to express-mail his golden trophy back to the Academy and publicly state something to the effect of: ‘Out of respect for the 94 years of honor conferred upon this award, I do not in good conscience feel worthy of being its custodian.”
He called Smith's remarks in his Best Actor acceptance speech "rambling."
“This attempt to explain his actions added to the travesty of this ethical catastrophe. In couching his acceptance speech as somehow submitting to the will of God, Smith abdicated personal accountability,” he wrote. “Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige. That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes.”
After going on some more, the actor wrote in conclusion:
“The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remediated. The only hope for a justifiable grace must involve Smith voluntarily returning his award for best actor.”
Black Twitter did not take too kind to Lennix's op-ed and called him out. for upholding Black respectability politics.
One person wrote, “What has an Oscar win ever done for a Black creatives career? This take by Harry Lennix is drenched in being desperate for white validation. Timothee Chalamet is out here BOOKED while the Moonlight cast cannot get a blockbuster role.”
What has an Oscar win ever done for a Black creatives career? This take by Harry Lennix is drenched in being desperate for white validation. Timothee Chalamet is out here BOOKED while the Moonlight cast cannot get a blockbuster role.
— Jason (Recast T’Challa) (@EscaflowneClown) April 9, 2022
Someone else said, "Harry Lennix, an actor who's been in 80 thousand classic Black movies and TV shows but it STILL so unknown by name - even by us - that they had to run his photo right next to Smith's in the op ed, who ain't even won an Image Award, got ALL the nerve."
Harry Lennix, an actor who’s been in 80 thousand classic Black movies and TV shows but it STILL so unknown by name – even by us – that they had to run his photo right next to Smith’s in the op ed, who ain’t even won an Image Award, got ALL the nerve
— Naima Cochrane (@naima) April 9, 2022
"Why is Harry Lennix worried about the integrity of an award he doesn’t even have?" questioned another. "Sounds like a hater if you ask me."
Someone also called out the double standard considering how many others have. not returned Oscars for far worse.
Another double standard was called out because of Lennix's comment about Joss Whedon over Ray Fisher's claims.
Safe to say Lennix's words have spawned a lot of commentary.
Will Smith got his Oscar for his talent & MUST not return it – What Award honour?! The same Academy that rewarded men with Oscars who’ve sexually assaulted/raped women & given a paedophile a standing ovation?
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) April 9, 2022
Harry Lennix and others are using Will’s misfortune to call attention to themselves. It’s giving, hi, over here! Please, pick me! pic.twitter.com/GR2gYXRkd3
— Tameka (BloggerPoet) (@tamstarz) April 9, 2022