Will Smith

Will Smith speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Bright", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. (Credit Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

  • 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.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor

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97 Comments

  1. Linda Miller says:

    I think it was done without as much bad intent as we think. Perhaps a rematch with Chris getting to land a good one on Will? Really, I think too much has been made of this match.

  2. Sapphire says:

    I agree with Jim Carrey, he said it perfectly. Will Smith should be charged. It is not up to Chris Rock whether to make the call. Will Smith should have been escorted out and should not have been able to receive the award. If anyone else would’ve done what he did they would’ve been escorted out. There should not be any well…..let’s take a poll, or play politics, everyone has consequences. There was pure anger and hatred. What is America coming to? It’s okay to do this. What are you opening the door for more violence? Jada is a strong beautiful woman. Chris is a comedian. There is no justification for physical violence. Will did not like what was only AFTER his saw his wife made a disapproval look. Other than that he was laughing. IT WAS A JOKE everyone. There is no Defending needed. And if you feel you need to defend your wife regarding a joke than joke back!
    Enjoy Life everyone and sometimes, just sometimes we have to laugh at ourselves.

  3. Daniel Mars says:

    Will Smith should be banned from everything. No assault is justified because of words especially a joke at an entertainment show. Jail time might bring him to reality.

  4. Lee says:

    I have a different perspective then most people!

    I think Chris Rock should be the one apologizing to Will Smith and Jada ! Not the other way around!

    He publicly humiliated Jada P.Smith
    In front of 5 million people around the world…..because she has a condition?
    He is the one who was out of line!

    How do you think this is going to affect HER reputation making her condition so public? It was disrespect!

    Will Smith was defending his wife’s HONOR and I thought it was Chivalrous!

  5. Ken Kurtz says:

    Rock mocked Jada? That’s a crock.

    Alopecia, or no alopecia, Jada is currently sporting a Rock-ing hairdo. Sinead O’Connor rocked it, and yes, Demi Moore rocked it in GI Jane, which was a very successful movie. Jada is a movie actress, and she looked incredible at The Oscars. Rock saying he can’t wait to see Jada take over the GI Jane role in GI Jane 2 is not mocking, and for goodness sake, it is not an “assault.” It is a mild joke, which might be argued was slightly distasteful, but in the pantheon of distasteful jokes throughout history, it just doesn’t rank. Will is stained forever, I will never watch, or listen to a single thing the thug does moving forward.

  6. Betty says:

    I will never go see another Will Smith movie. His Oscar should be taken away and I hope he is blackballed by Hollywood!

    1. Mirtha G says:

      If Will Smith is not officially charged for his conduct, it’ll leave the door open for future assaults against comedians in any public event, a joke is a joke if you don’t like just stand up and leave, it’s a matter of fact in the video he was laughing at the first place then he turned and looked to Jada then reacted, the true is I don’t have any respect for him anymore, after all his actions about the August Alsina “Entanglement” with Jada, and now this disgraceful public behavior at this event, the world have seen an asshole in action I think his Oscar should be revoke.

  7. Linda Purrier says:

    you and.me would have been arrested…no excuse for that abuse on Tv.that our kids got to witness and we had toexplain…shame on you Will Smith…will never view anynof yours again…ever

  8. French says:

    Zero Tolerance….Shame on the Academy Picture Arts and Science for not immediately enforcing their code of standards.

  9. Clarissa Green says:

    Sorry! Will Smith has been insulting different people for many years. He cannot jump up when someone does the same thing to him. He can RESPOND he cannot slap someone in their face. He is a hateful person and that was on full display.