Poll: 2 in 3 think Will Smith should be charged for slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

  • StudyFinds.com survey shows that while 66 percent say Smith should be arrested, 62 percent think the slap was justified

  • Was it real? 58 percent believe incident was staged

NEW YORK — Will Smith’s slap across the face of comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars will sadly live on forever as one of the most unforgettable moments in Academy Awards history. After Rock mocked the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, Smith’s shocking response spoiled what would have otherwise been perhaps the pinnacle of his storied career. Fans and celebrities alike have been quite vocal about the incident, with many taking sides in the spat between the two Hollywood heavyweights. Now, a new StudyFinds.com poll shows that two in three Americans think Smith should be actually be charged for his admittedly violent reaction.

That’s not to say that most people are taking Rock’s side either. More than three quarters (76.5 percent) feel that making fun of Pinkett Smith was inappropriate. Interestingly, nearly half of men (48 percent) think the joke was uncalled for, compared to 38 percent of women.

The survey of 1,003 adults, conducted by OnePoll, took place hours before Smith publicly apologized to Rock on social media Monday. Smith, named Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in the movie “King Richard,” wrote on Instagram that he couldn’t handle hearing his wife insulted.

Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith wrote. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

The actor went on to apologize to his fans, the Academy, and the family of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Book him, maybe?

But will the apology be enough to change the minds of those calling for criminal charges? In the StudyFinds.com poll, respondents were asked whether or not they agreed that Smith should be charged by the LAPD with assault for the incident. Two-thirds at least “somewhat” agree that charges are necessary, including 36 percent who “strongly” agree. Conversely, 14 percent disagree, while about 21 percent weren’t sure.

Here’s where things get a bit weird, leaving us scratching our heads. While so many respondents feel Smith should be booked for assault, nearly just as many agree that his behavior was justified! In all, 62.2 percent of respondents at least somewhat felt that the actor had good reason for gettin’ slappy with it. Once again, 36 percent strongly agree, and just 14 percent either somewhat or strongly disagree.

And when asked whether or not they think the whole thing was staged, 30 percent strongly believe it was and another 28 percent are “somewhat” convinced it was all scripted. One in five respondents (21 percent) say they’re not sure, while 21.5 percent think it’s real. Again, this took place before Smith’s apology, which could have swayed more folks to feel confident it wasn’t a hoax.

How Americans view Will Smith and Chris Rock after the Oscars’ slap

As for how the slap-seen-round-the-world impacted the way people view the two men, it’s clear Americans are…confused? We asked if respondents had a more favorable or less favorable perception of each star. Strangely enough, 57 percent say they see Will Smith in a more favorable light, and 60 percent feel the same way about Chris Rock. Similarly, 27 percent haven’t changed their opinion of Smith, versus 30 percent of respondents when it comes to Rock.

On the other hand, just 16 percent have a more negative perception of Smith now, compared to 10 percent for Rock.

So apparently most people want to see Will Smith charged, but also think he was justified and like him more now. Oh, and 58 percent of respondents also think he should be banned from the Oscars for good (just 18 percent disagree). Yeah, we don’t get it either.

As for what happens moving forward, it seems that sleeping on it led Smith to release his apology. We haven’t yet heard from Rock, but we hope cooler heads will prevail and this whole wild incident will be water under the bridge for Rock, and the Smith family. The last thing this country needs right now is one more seemingly irreparable dose of anger and divisiveness.

Video Summary: Should Will Smith go to jail? We asked 1,003 people.