Kenneth L. Hardin: When a slap is more than just a slap

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 3, 2022

Will Smith is a bully and I’m not a fan. I haven’t been since his movies “Independence Day” and “Men In Black.”

This was when he seemed to start believing the hype surrounding his theatrical success and started acting like a first-class fool filled with the arrogance that was on full display at the Oscars. Since I’m on a roll, let me add that his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith is not high on my list either. She seems to sip from the same cup of overindulgent arrogance that her husband chokes on while quenching his thirst for attention.

Although she hasn’t done anything screen worthy since the last two seasons of the TV show, “A Different World,” and 1996’s “Set It Off movie,” Pinkett Smith has managed to stay relevant through continually mentioning her childhood friendship with the late rapper Tupac Shakur and her Red Table Talk online chats that have no boundaries or shame. Together the pair come across as a duo living above the world the rest of us occupy, looking down on us as if we should be appreciative they allow us to witness the perfection that is them.


But when you peel back the layers, well before the slap, they’re true to their acting profession because their lives are far from perfect. This wasn’t the first time Will resorted to violence to manage a benign matter. In 2012, he overreacted and physically responded to a prankster posing as a reporter who tried to kiss him on the red carpet during a movie premiere. In July 2020, Jada feigned courage while really seeking ratings gold by admitting she had an intimate “entanglement” with someone who wasn’t her husband. In the world of regular folks, this is called an extramarital affair, but because they color their skies a different blue with special crayons, they manipulated the King’s English to suit their misguided lives. During her admission show fiasco, Will sat motionless fighting back tears, but it wasn’t clear if his eyes were moist because of hurt, embarrassment, anger, humiliation, or good acting. Instead of yelling an obscenity-laced threat at a comedian about keeping his wife’s name out of his comedy mouth, Will should’ve taken better care of his wife to keep her paramour’s name out of her mouth. I’m not going to waste much more space showing how this annoying couple, who according to a NY Post article, defined themselves as “relational perfection,” is closer to dumpster fire, but this next tidbit is relevant. In 2008, the less than dynamic duo opened a school to much fanfare called the New Village Leadership Academy. They bragged about how they would shape young minds, but quietly shut its doors five years later to great financial and academic failure.


I took strong offense to Will’s misguided and unnecessary defense of his wife’s honor for personal reasons. Although I’ve never been physically assaulted, I’ve been in Chris Rock’s position of being verbally attacked and threatened with harm because I’ve had the courage to share my thoughts and opinions. Opinion writing, like comedy, is subjective and not everyone will like or agree with what you opine. No one has the right to verbally threaten or physically attack you if they don’t appreciate or agree with your words. Will put a lot of artists in danger with his immature and asinine actions. He’s opened the door for anyone now who gets offended with something they don’t like or agree with to react violently. Shame on anyone who saw his actions as romantic or heroic. No, they were just reckless and stupid. I didn’t watch the Oscars because I couldn’t stomach watching people, who get paid millions of dollars to pretend, sit around and tell each other how wonderful they are for pretending. It was sickening to see a room full of privileged people give Will a standing ovation less than an hour after assaulting another person.


By assaulting Rock, Will gave credence to the belief of the angry Black man who is unable to control his emotions and use non-confrontational strategies to mediate his rage. Yes, I’ve also been saddled unfairly with that erroneous character imperfection by people who neither know me nor my temperament. All Will managed to accomplish in his thousand-dollar tuxedo was pop the lid off the paint can so certain segments of White America can continue painting all Black men with that broad brush.


Hopefully, once the warped energy from this sad debacle subsides, the meme’s become less frequent and common-sense returns, writers and stage performers will again feel comfortable and safe to share their words without fear of being assaulted by those who don’t know how to use theirs to resolve internal conflict.


Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a former City Councilman and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.