The name of his wife.

I don’t know why I’ve written this. It’s as relevant as writing about nothing at all.

What a stupid line to say – “take my wife’s name out of your mouth”. Certainly stupid enough to not need repeating. Which is why he said it again. I know I’m more than a week late, but who cares – me being lazy can’t be as important as Will Smith’s career. I obviously don’t care, otherwise I’d have written this before the Oscars ceremony had even finished (if I’d watched it at all, but why would anyone do something as daft as that?). Poor, angry, Will Smith, he’s never been much of my kind of a cup of tea to be honest. Easy to like, hard to love. He just seems to appear as Will Smith in most of his movies. There’s the grin and the quip, the gratuitous flash of muscle and then that sideways tilt of his head before shouting at someone that he suspects they may be a motherfucker, as all good role models do. He is definitely a star rather than an actor. The fact he has just won an Oscar for acting is testament to that, if there’s one thing that the Oscars are very good at getting right it’s getting it wrong. But this year the Oscars were overshadowed by the actions of a man who simply couldn’t contain the indignity of finding his wife’s name in another man’s mouth. Will Smith certainly seems to be in a spot of bother, and not just because he has all the acting range of a small plate of corned beef. Does it matter to him though? Of course not, because he’s a tough guy. A tough guy who doesn’t like anyone else having his wife’s name in their mouth.

The question shouldn’t be whether this is the end of his career but rather whether it would make any difference to the world if it was. I love films (well, the good ones) very much, but I can safely say that there isn’t a single Will Smith film that I couldn’t live without. Off the top of my head here are five perfectly watchable Will Smith films (which you are well within your rights to disagree with, provided you understand it makes no difference to me): Wild Wild West, Hancock, Enemy Of The State and Men In Black. I know that’s only four, but that’s kind of my point. Smith may have made shitloads of cash and put plenty of bums on seats but most of his films sit very comfortably in the bag marked ‘average’. What promise is there in a film named Collateral Beauty? Oh, Collateral Beauty, I wonder what that’s about. Really? I don’t. It is exactly as dreadful as it sounds and I’ll never get a minute of it back (it gets 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is 13.9% more than it deserves – it gets 0.1% just for being a film). Will Smith may be big time but he’s made more big time crap than most. And when it comes to acting he certainly isn’t Denzel Washington.

We all know that talent and success are very rarely frequent bedfellows. Sure, Will Smith may be likeable enough, unless you have failed to take his wife’s name out of your mouth, but his brand of success seems to be more down to his razzmatazz than to his ability to inhabit all that much. He isn’t truly much more than a cocksure rooster; an action hero and part time funny guy who has a strike rate of about 25% (or should I say 14%?) and one can’t help but think that the recent slip in his popularity is because he has run out of things to do with whatever he has left of the stuff he does things with. I have yet to see King Richard, but if I do my viewing pleasure will be greatly compromised, not by what he did to Chris Rock to help him get his wife’s name out of his mouth but by the fact he won an Oscar for it. Does he deserve an Oscar just because he’s never had one before? Was his performance really the very best acting performance of the year? Who knows? Not me.

And that takes us nicely to that silly moment at the Oscars; the most vacuous, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, shallow, soulless, still almost entirely white, pointless night on the Hollywood calendar. I can’t wait to go to America but the last place I would bother to put on the itinerary is Tinseltown. Who needs all that melted plastic, red and gold veneer and oil slick hypocrisy? Jada Pinkett Smith’s (who has quite a long name to fit into one mouth and is therefore, in this case nearly literally, a mouthful) face was not a happy one, but that could have been because she was so fucking bored of being at the Oscars. Or it may be because her every professional step has always been overshadowed by the quite substantial ego that her husband is. Chris Rock was being as typically half-funny as ever, but while a poor joke made at the expense of someone else may not help anyone it was never going to be worth the reaction it got. Even for the sake of alopecia. Rock can at least be oddly pleased that he didn’t fall over and absolutely dealt with it far more gracefully than Smith did the slur. When I recently wrote about rock and roll this is exactly what I had in mind: this whole thing and everyone involved – very not rock and roll.

So, nearly two weeks on and not much has really happened, or at least nothing that is important. Chris Rock has refused to press charges, presumably because he is still too busy trying to get Will Smith’s wife’s name out of his mouth or because he’s already got Will Smith’s wife’s name out of his mouth but is wondering what to replace it with. Apparently tickets to his stand-up show have increased massively since the event so I hope he’ll be able to cobble together 90 minutes of stand up that doesn’t just involve him repeating Will Smith’s wife’s name in a wide array of inflections. Will Smith’s wife has said something suitably bland and non-committal about finding time to heal, or something equally wealthy and Californian, and one assumes this refers to both Chris Rock’s jaw and her husband’s future. Will Smith, the actual Will Smith, on the other hand has had to consider his options. He has withdrawn from the Academy, in an effort to withdraw from the Academy before the Academy withdraw him for him. He has apologised to everyone imaginable including, eventually, the man he hit on live TV in front of millions of profoundly bored viewers, and he now waits to see if the world will forgive him for, essentially, being a twat. Hey, they forgave him for making Collateral Beauty, so you never know. Just remember two things though: firstly, this whole story is meaningless and a waste of the entire world’s time (which is probably why this post isn’t very good). And secondly, whatever happens and whatever you do, don’t let Will Smith catch you with his wife’s name in your mouth. It really gets him very cross indeed. Poor chap.

G B Hewitt. 08.04.2022

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