The Will Smith Oscar slap and Bucha atrocities have been at the center of public interest and controversy over the recent weeks. While the two events vary greatly in nature – one being a scandal in the entertainment industry and the other a major humanitarian crisis – both have sparked debate and intense reactions worldwide. This newsletter provides insight on the events and their outcomes.
# Will Smith Oscar Slap
The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, were held on March 27 in Los Angeles. During the show, the comedian Chris Rock was on stage as presenter for the Award for Best Documentary. “Jada, I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” he commented, comparing Jada Smith’s close-cropped hair to Demi Moore’s buzzcut in the 1997 movie. Jada Smith has alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that can result in hair loss. To this, her husband Will Smith abruptly stormed onstage and slapped Chris Rock. Visibly taken aback and uncomfortable with the situation, Chris Rock replied by saying it was just a joke. However to this, Will continuously shouted for Chris to “keep [his] wife’s name out [his] mouth” along with derogatory remarks. Instead of further reacting to Will’s comments, Chris Rock strived to move the awards along by announcing the nominees for Best Documentary Feature. Shortly after this display of violence, Will Smith was nominated as Best Actor for the film ‘King Richard’. He once again stepped on stage to receive his award.
The public showed contrasting reactions to Will Smith’s actions. Some defended him saying that he was just standing up for his wife, while others criticized his actions, saying violence cannot be justified in any circumstances. Some stated that he should have been escorted out immediately after his reactions and criticized the Oscars for their lack of intervention. On April 8, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences released an official letter on the issue. It called Will Smith’s behavior “unacceptable and harmful” and announced that the Board of Governors have “decided, for a period of 10 years … Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards”. Following this, several of Smith’s projects have also been paused or canceled. Bad Boys 4 by Sony and Fast and Loose by Netflix starring Will Smith has currently called off production.
# Massacre by Russian Forces in Bucha, Ukraine
On February 24th, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered for the invasion of Ukraine. Shortly afterwards, the Ukrainian city Bucha was seized by Russian troops. The occupation lasted for over a month until the troops withdrew on March 31st. Footage and images of the shocking aftermath were soon released: images from Bucha showed hundreds of dead bodies, some with bullet wounds and others burned or in mass graves, in areas which were taken over by Russian forces. The police chief of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, announced that “more than 900 civilian bodies had been found in the region, with more than 350 discovered in the suburb of Bucha”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of genocide. Russia flatly denied this accusation, claiming that the footage was staged. Furthermore, on April 18th Putin declared a decree praising the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade, the Russian unit accused by the Ukrainian government for the mass killings in Bucha, for “defending the motherland”.
Russia’s actions have received condemnation worldwide. The U.S. president Joe Biden accused Putin as a “war criminal”. UN Secretary General António Guterres also described the Bucha crisis as “one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order and the global peace architecture, founded on the United Nations Charter”. Martin Griffiths, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, is currently tasked to travel to Ukraine and Russia to press for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire.
# Global Responses Against Russia
To date, more than 10 million people have been displaced by Russian forces. UN Secretary General António Guterres announced that this has been the “fastest forced population movement since the Second World War”. According to UNHCR, more than 4.2 million among the displaced populations have fled Ukraine’s borders. The World Health Organization has reported that 86 health and medical facilities have been attacked as of April 2nd. Following such war crimes and human rights infringements, numerous countries and companies have imposed sanctions and penalties against Russia.
The Unites States has imposed economic measures to ban new investment in Russia and has banned the import of Russian gas and oil. All Russian flights have also been banned from the airspace of US, UK, Canada, and the EU. Western countries have also frozen the assets of the Central Bank of Russia. This has caused Russia’s inflation rate to rise by 14%. With mounting pressure for action, renowned multinational corporations have also pulled out from Russia. In the food and drinks sector, McDonald's, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Heineken are halting their business in Russia. In retail, companies including L'Oreal, H&M, and Zara have suspended sales. Samsung has also suspended its sales in Russia, and Apple has limited its Maps and Apple Pay services.
From these insights, we can see the progress and outcomes of current events related to the fields of entertainment, human rights, security, international relations, and commerce. Responses to these situations will serve as an example and model when similar circumstances arise in the future. Thus, it would of significance to follow the trajectory of the responses and analyze factors behind their successes and failures.
Whitten, Sarah. “Will Smith Banned from Attending the Oscars for 10 Years after Slapping Chris Rock on Stage.” CNBC, CNBC, 9 Apr. 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/08/will-smith-banned-from-attending-the-oscars-for-10-years-after-slapping-chris-rock-on-stage.html.
Barrera, Daniela. “Fast and Loose: Was the Netflix Movie Starring Will Smith Movie Canceled?” Diario AS, 12 Apr. 2022, https://en.as.com/latest_news/fast-and-loose-was-the-netflix-movie-starring-will-smith-movie-canceled-n/.
“Bucha Murders: German Report Says Russian Troops Discussed Killings.” BBC News, BBC, 7 Apr. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-61028380.
Bearak, Max. “In Bucha, the Scope of Russian Barbarity Is Coming into Focus.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Apr. 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/06/bucha-barbarism-atrocities-russian-soldiers/.
Halpert, Madeline. “Putin Honors Army Unit Accused of Bucha Killings.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/madelinehalpert/2022/04/18/putin-honors-army-unit-accused-of-bucha-killings/?sh=711947902162.
“Ukraine: Un's Guterres Joins Call for Bucha War Crimes Probe.” United Nations, United Nations, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/04/1115522.
“Which Companies Are Pulling out of Russia?” BBC News, BBC, 11 Mar. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60571133.
“What Sanctions Are Being Imposed on Russia over Ukraine Invasion?” BBC News, BBC, 11 Apr. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60125659.