We Can Do Better
Junious Ricardo Stanton
One of my cousins called me Tuesday to talk; she asked if I was going to do a podcast on the Will Smith Chris Rock dust up at the Oscars Sunday night? (Here’s a shameless plug I produce and host a podcast called Akoben the War Horn that can be heard on streaming platforms like: Soundcloud, Podbean, Spotify, Mixcloud and Anchor.)
I told her I usually don’t address issues like that. When I told my wife what my cousin asked, she asked me if I was going to write about it? I though about it and decided to add my two cents to the growing controversy, reactions and commentary. In my opinion Will Smith publicly slapping Chris Rock at an even such as the Oscars is symptomatic of a larger societal malaise, resorting to violence to “solve” issues and personal disagreements!
We see violence in the news daily, homicide is on the rise in most major urban areas, suicide and domestic violence, child and elder abuse are rampant to the point society seems to be unraveling. The corporate media is hyping the War in Ukraine to make it okay for defense contractors to rake in more money as the US government sends weapons to Ukraine!
The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is American culture: television, motion pictures, video games, virtual reality, books and other media all exhort violence.. The history of this nation is full of violence. The United States has been a war 93% of its short existence! https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/usa-only-17-years-of-peace.html?c Americans love war and violence, war and violence drives the US budget. At their core, budgets reflect values, priorities and what is important. The US has the highest military budget of any nation in the world. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/military-spending-by-country War and war profiteering are vitally important to the US ruling class.
Violence is glorified in history books that either defend or ignore the indefensible: genocide, enslavement, oppressive child labor, economic privation and exploitation. So on a societal level an emotionally out of control wealthy pampered actor loosing it on national TV is totally consistent with the cultural norm. Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars are part and parcel of this maladaptive social dynamic within a larger dysfunctional social milieu.
The Oscar’s stating they don’t condone violence is the height of hypocrisy and mendacity. The motion picture industry and the media in general are filled with violent content; they make their money as purveyors of violence on a global scale!
Their dependence upon violence to sell movies and news has a concomitantly negative impact on society. “Media violence poses a threat to public health inasmuch as it leads to an increase in real-world violence and aggression. Research shows that fictional television and film violence contribute to both a short-term and a long-term increase in aggression and violence in young viewers. Television news violence also contributes to increased violence, principally in the form of imitative suicides and acts of aggression. Video games are clearly capable of producing an increase in aggression and violence in the short term, although no long-term longitudinal studies capable of demonstrating long-term effects have been conducted. The relationship between media violence and real-world violence and aggression is moderated by the nature of the media content and characteristics of and social influences on the individual exposed to that content. Still, the average overall size of the effect is large enough to place it in the category of known threats to public health.” Media violence research and youth violence data: why do they conflict? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15298868/
What does Will Smith’s behavior at the Oscars say about him as a person? Smith claimed he was defending his wife. In his incongruent ramble during his acceptance speech, Smith attempted to justify his behavior (after he recognized the potential career ending consequences of his actions) by saying “Love makes you do crazy things”. He tried to tie his behavior to the Richard Williams character he played in the film for which he just won the Oscar!
That was despicable, there is no comparison to Will Smith’s outburst and the decades long struggle of Richard Williams as a Black working class father raising two daughters to be highly competitive an the affluent mostly white world of tennis! I’m sorry that was a specious attempt to justify his unwarranted actions which is another reflection on Smith’s character.
Even more dastardly by Smith trying to compare himself to Richard Williams, he reinforced the vile stereotype of Black men being violent out of control miscreants. This is a stereotype most Black men in America have to try to refute every day of our lives and Will Smith’s actions made it more difficult!
Hopefully some good can come out of this unfortunate event. Perhaps it will force us as Black people and a society to look at ourselves, do some introspection and foster genuine change. We can do better. Peace and harmony are possible but we have to work at them and make them real in our own lives. The more of us who do this the better off the world will be!