Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
Will Smith Fallout
On Friday, April 8, the Motion Picture Academy banned actor Will Smith from the Oscars for ten years. The 54-person Board of Governors held the meeting via Zoom, and although the actor resigned his membership and apologized, profusely, the board still enacted a more severe punishment.
In the history of the Academy, only five people have been banned. In 2004, actor Carmine Caridi (The Godfather II, III) became the first person to be barred after giving screeners to a friend who then made pirated copies of movies. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Roman Polanski (The Pianist) were expelled because of sexual abuse charges. And, in 2021, cinematographer Adam Kimmel (Beautiful Girls) lost his membership because he didn’t disclose that he was a registered sex offender.
A lot has happened since the world watched Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the Oscars over a joke he made about Smith’s wife. It has been such a traumatic time that the Fresh Prince is reportedly going to check himself into rehab for stress. “This is unquestionably the battle of his career,” a Hollywood insider told The Sun. “It will be a high-end retreat used by the rich and famous and he will be doing a lot of soul searching and working out how he can move forward.”
What caused Smith to lose his cool and attack Rock? Eisa Nefertari Ulen, author and film critic who was a guest on PBS News Hour, said it was important for people to see the slap moment through a lens of “black pain.” She said the actor was definitely triggered, but:
“…we need to understand what was happening there, it’s really rooted and steeped in a 400-year commitment to Black erasure, Black marginalization, Black silencing, and the stereotyping of Black people. All of that was present in a visceral, felt and real way in the infamous slap.”
Ulen also wrote an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter where she went deep down the rabbit hole on black pain and how the movie industry has perpetuated it. “The film industry has, historically, swirled us around just enough to get a taste of Blackness and, soon enough, spit us out,” she wrote.
Even though the incident was between two black men, reportedly good friends – at least until that night – Ulen still found a way to criticize white people:
“The fact that the slap took place on an international stage does not enlarge the foolishness — at least, not for me. I do not fear the white gaze as I drop, viscerally, into a well of Black pain: In Will’s initial laugh, the weight of always needing to be affable, especially in white spaces, even when the joke’s on him.
“With all that going on, I don’t care what white folk think.”
Ulen then talked about Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss condition, comparing it to the struggles black women have historically battled. Slaves were required to cover their hair or had their hair cut off as punishment, the author wrote and related that to the centuries of black women still suffering from their ancestors’ plight and how Jada’s condition only reinforces the issue.
Before the Academy made a decision on what kind of repercussions Smith might receive for his infamous slap, Ulen had a suggestion for that governing body: “Before sanctioning him in ways that concretize the damage he’s already done to his own career, the Academy must also self-reflect and own the well-documented norms, policies and images that have damaged Black people, especially those who work in this business.”
Cheers and Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinseltown.
Disney Facing Legal Action?
Disney got itself into hot water when it didn’t act quick enough over Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Now that the company has responded and took a stance against the legislation, it could be facing legal woes.
Some Republican lawmakers, backed by Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, are calling for a repeal of a 1967 law that gave Disney something like its own government. The 55-year-old law allowed for creating the Reedy Creek Improvement District which gave Disney the authority and ability to act as its own country. The company can impose taxes, provide emergency services, and adopt ordinances.
“As a matter of first principle, I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful,” DeSantis said during a news conference on March 31. He continued:
“They’ve lost a lot of the pull that they used to have, and honestly, I think that’s a good thing for our state. You should not have one organization that is able to dictate policy in all these different realms, and they have done that for many, many years. If that stops now, which it should, that would be a good thing for Florida.”
Disney’s financial contributions to the Sunshine State are huge, though. An Oxford Economics study in 2019 showed that tourism accounted for $75.2 billion a year from the theme park, with $5.8 billion in state tax revenue, and the company provided 463,000 jobs.
Bruce Willis’ Worst Performance Razzie Rescinded
For the year 2021, Bruce Willis had eight films that Razzie categorized as “Worst of Hollywood,” but his work on Cosmic Sin won him the “Worst Performance” award. However, that announcement was made just days before it was revealed the actor is suffering from aphasia, a communication disorder. In response, Mo Murphy and John Wilson, co-founders of Razzie, said in a statement, “If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie.”
Jim Carrey Dropping Out of the Business
Actor and comedian Jim Carrey has announced it’s time for him to take a break from acting. “I have enough, I’ve done enough, I am enough,” he told Access. He said he is happy and content with his “quiet” life with family and his artwork. Future endeavors include turning some of his art into NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which he plans to release later this month. As for acting, Carrey said the script would have to be “pure gold” for him to consider it.
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.