I have seen many attempts to see this incident in terms of myth and in terms of depth psychology, attempts which use everything except what I feel is most appropriate to this incident – and that is the literal interpretation of the events. Before I read the comments of author and social critic Fran Lebowitz with which I largely agree, I was asking others to consider the possibility that he was fully conscious of what he was doing. Because, it didn’t seem to me that there was any eruption from the unconscious which would make him lose control. It seemed to me that he was in full control and might have fully intended to do what he did. And I was completely unconvinced that he did any of this to ‘defend’ his wife. This was why when reading analyses having to do with the powerful influence of the unconscious, I felt they were giving Will Smith a pass. Quite frankly, that angered me.
Now, Fran Lebowitz’s comments are absolutely spot on. She wrote:
Will Smith was well aware that he was on television. It’s not like he lost his temper or something because there was too much time between those two things. He didn’t jump up right away, he sat there at first, he laughed, though I’m sure he didn’t think it was funny. Everyone knows, if you’re sitting there, there’s a high chance you’re on TV and that is why, when they announce the winners, they shoot to the audience and they show the losers, and all the losers know that they’re being shot and they smile and they applaud, even though they’re thinking, ‘I should’ve won!’
It’s not the first time someone got angry at a joke, but it was outrageous to me that he did that, it was outrageous to me that they let him sit there, but most outrageous was that self-serving, self-regarding speech that he made, with the tears — which were for himself — and the way that he talked about himself, which is not uncommon in Hollywood. … That speech was ridiculous and outrageous.
A lot of people tell me that when Will Smith got up, they thought it was a bit, but I didn’t. I knew that he was going to hit him because I could see by the way he was walking that it was real. I also could see — and I hate to use the word ‘thought’ in regard to whatever went through his mind, such as it is — but he knew he was going to do it, and it seemed pretty clear to me that Chris didn’t, because naturally it’s really unusual for someone to get up and hit someone during the Oscars.
I mean, just think about this – Will Smith has been an exceedingly popular actor and public figure for at least 3 decades. He has long been under intense public scrutiny and he has played roles which have garnered him both admirers and detractors. He has also done some pretty bad things which will result in big criticism (e.g., his treatment of Janet Hubert). So, with all of that experience of intense scrutiny, horrid and unfair judgements, etc., do we really think he lost it at one of the most visible forums in the world? Really?
Sometimes, we have to consider that the literal and the mundane yield a far better and more accurate picture of the unfolding of a given set of events.