The “Benign” Domestic Violence of Kid Rock’s “Joke”

Tuesday, March 29th

“And the Academy Award for Best Live Action Performance goes to Will Smith.” The supporting actor award goes to Kid Rock, who actually deserved a punch and not just a slap. On behalf of everyone who has ever endured being skewered under the guise of humor, I applaud Will Smith, and only wish that the entire audience had chanted: “Encore! Encore! Encore!” in order to drown out Will Smith’s “script suggestions” for Kid Rock’s next set of jokes: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fuckin’ mouth.” I do wish I could have seen this altercation take place in “actual time,” instead of learning about it after Linda and I finished driving home from Laurel Ann Bogen’s apartment in West Los Angeles, where we had watched the first hour and a half of the Oscar presentations with a half-dozen of the friends she had invited over to celebrate her birthday. Since we had wanted to avoid driving at night, we left before the most coveted awards were handed out, and it was 40 minutes before I could find out if I had predicted any of the remainder of the winners.

My first thought after viewing the footage online that evening is that it was too bad that no one in the camera control booth did not have the presence of mind to shift a camera toward Troy Kotsur; it would have only been fair to give the hearing challenged community a chance to have access to the uncensored words of Will Smith by giving them close-ups of the ASL translation of what Will Smith said, and then have had Kotsur’s reaction in ASL. Given Kid Rock’s willingness to mock a woman struggling with a disease that alters her physical appearance, it’s possible that the next joke he was going to tell was going to be aimed at Kotsur. Why not? Anyone and everyone is fair game when it comes to being a court jester. For all we know, Smith’s slap was a fortuitous intervention that altered Kid Rock’s planned set of jokes and thereby saved him from making a faux pas about the “deaf” community that would have drawn a laser beam of fury from the disability rights community.

In any case, I am struck by how everyone in the next 24 hours piled on Smith for his “toxic masculinity,” decrying his act of violence with a salivating righteousness. Excuse me, but let’s shift the joke to another scene. Let’s imagine that Smith’s marriage wasn’t doing so well, and just before leaving for the Oscars in a limousine, the driver overhears Smith saying the same exact line to his spouse. Are you telling me that that “joke” wouldn’t be categorized as “emotional violence” when testimony is given at the divorce trial? Do you not think that journalists would be all over Smith in the aftermath of that trial, and that the late-night comedians would not be making jokes about his plight in which the barb he directed at his spouse was then turned against him?

So let’s call it for what it is: Kid Rock’s “joke” is the equivalent of misogynistic domestic violence that wanted to get away with any responsibility for the pain it inflicted by imposing it from a public stage, with an audience in the tens of millions.

Does Will Smith need “anger management”? Yes. Do Kid Rock and all his acolytes need to reexamine their complicity in fostering a toxic environment of comic entitlement? An equally emphatic yes. Kid Rock is just another bully on an adult playground, in another corner of which stands Donald Trump. If only Hillary Clinton had turned around during her debates with him and slapped him just as hard when he was stalking her.

And then slapped him a second time just to show that it wasn’t sloppy impulse, but long overdue retribution for all his transgressions.


In terms of expanding the discussion of this incident, here is an alternative commentary by Monica Hesse, “The misguided chivalry of Will Smith.”
“The memorable image from Sunday’s Oscars will be Will Smith hitting Chris Rock. The memorable image should be Jada Pinkett Smith in her emerald-colored gown, keeping her fingers crossed and her hands to herself.”


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says Will Smith ‘perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community’ by slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

David Artavia (Tuesday, March 29, 2022, 7:55 AM)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s commentary is hard to disagree with, except that he says it was “a benign joke.” It was NOT a benign joke, and anyone who thinks it was does not comprehend what it means to be targeted by a bully. Why don’t we take a poll — and guess what? Only people so scarred by bullying that they never had children out of fear that they would have to endure the same experience get to vote on whether it was a benign joke. If that poll reports that the substantial majority of such people say that it was a benign joke, then I’ll retract my words. But not until then.

AND (highly recommended)

‘There Are No Heroes in This Story’: A Conversation between Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Roxane Gay, Charles Blow, and Esau McCaulley
(This is the best article I have read so far.)


MARC MARON: “I guarantee you Chris didn’t know she had alopecia. I guarantee you that Chris was handed a paper with a bunch of jokes by the writers… He had a writer, probably, for the awards show. He said: ‘I want to take some shots when I go out. What do you got?’ He saw a bunch of jokes and these were the ones he was carrying into his head when he went on stage.”

Apparently, Marc Maron believes that Kid Rock has no responsibility whatsoever to “vet” his jokes. It’s called “prep time,” Mr. Maron, and if a comedian doesn’t want to risk repercussions, then that comedian had better put in the time to vet the jokes. The sad part of Kid Rock’s failure to do a careful review of his prime time jokes is that he no doubt believes that a brief verbal apology the next day would have sufficed to cancel his lapse. Only if Kid Rock was willing to accept a punishment for his carelessness equal to that which is going to be imposed on Will Smith would I say that Kid Rock comprehends the gravity of his offense. It’s not just the the domestic violence of the joke that I find abominable. It’s the sloppiness with which Kid Rock toys with other people’s lives.

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