The slap of Will Smith, when reality exceeds fiction

Oscar ceremony, March 27, 2022. “Everything is going like clockwork”, almost seems to regret the presenter of the special Canal + program. Criticized for years for its lack of openness and diversity, the Academy has gone all out: a mixed-race Puerto Rican lesbian Best Supporting Actress (Ariana DeBose); an award-winning deaf actor (Troy Kotsur); three mistresses of ceremonies (Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes), including two black actresses; without forgetting the message of support for Ukraine. And then comes comedian Chris Rock. The whole world now knows the rest. A joke, a donut, the fucking, forbidden word. And some 8 billion hits when you type “Will Smith” into Google.

A slap in the face of cinema calmly, almost with class, by the man who played Mohamed Ali. Will Smith readjusts his tuxedo, a smirk, then, like the actor who finished his take, sits down and threatens, twice, Chris Rock: “You don’t put my wife’s name in your fucking mouth. » Amazement and embarrassed laughter in the room.

Read also: Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock for slapping him live at the Oscars

“The Oscars ceremony is a space for play, so we could imagine, at the time, that the scene was played”, analyzes François Jost, professor emeritus in information and communication sciences at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University. The semiologist thus takes the example of the last Cesar ceremony, when a (false) reconciliation was staged between the actors Gilles Lellouche and Pierre Niney, both nominated in the best actor category. Themselves had, the previous days, simulated a clash on social networks. “There was also the intrusion of the humorist Marie s’infiltrate [Marie Benoliel], who burst onto the stage to show off her ass. We wondered if it was planned or not. It wasn’t. This confusion between reality and fiction, between true and false, is more and more frequent.assures François Jost.

A staged family life

Will Smith, who is a role model especially for the African-American community, did he end up getting caught up in his own game? François Jost evokes the theory of self-invention of sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann, based on the dramatization of our society: “Life is not an experience, it is mediated by the role we give ourselves, we play our private life. » The explosion of reality TV and networks only amplifies this phenomenon. “The contract with ‘be yourself’ has been broken. Today, even the stars borrow the way influencers or stars in need of notoriety work to put themselves in this logic. »

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