While slapping someone crosses a line, Will Smith's reaction to Chris Rock's joke is understandable, believes Elizabeth Wellington of The Philadelphia Inquirer. His wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, started losing hair in 2018 due to alopecia, which has been very difficult emotionally. Her discomfort and self-consciousness in attending her first Oscars without hair must have been immense, which Smith would have known. He chose to put his wife's mental health above silently accepting a cruel and deeply hurtful insult. Lashing out like that was extreme, but Rock's body-shaming joke hit a raw nerve. Smith was justified in standing up for his family.
Will Smith's slapping of Chris Rock was unacceptable, writes Joseph Harker of The Guardian. Even more disappointing was his justification of it. He defended his use of violence as him having to protect those close to him. This harmful notion can lead to people getting killed. Smith's speech risks normalizing dangerous behavior, given his immense platform. What really happened was that he lost control, for which he should have apologized immediately. His initial reaction to Rock's joke was to laugh, which doesn't do him any favors. In one night, Smith ruined his image and overshadowed what should have been a great celebration.