Everyone has an opinion on actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. Some approved of the actor’s conduct while others suggested it was inappropriate. Both men have apologized for their roles in the altercation, but the debate continues. However, at least some seem to believe that this is a political matter and have suggested that attitudes on the incident are falling along political lines.
Conservative commentator and podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey posted a tweet to this effect, saying that she has seen mostly leftists defending Smith and conservatives condemning the slap. She tweeted:
So weird how this Will Smith/Chris Rock thing is falling along left/right lines, with lots of leftists defending the slap. We all know if this were two white dudes we would be having a national conversation about white privilege and toxic masculinity.
So weird how this Will Smith/Chris Rock thing is falling along left/right lines, with lots of leftists defending the slap. We all know if this were two white dudes we would be having a national conversation about white privilege and toxic masculinity
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) March 29, 2022
Stuckey’s comment does not seem out of bounds in 2022, when everything is politicized. Indeed, HBO host Bill Maher complained about this trend on his show over a week ago. He asserted that the country “needs more neutral things, that we can all go ‘oh, you’re not completely different from me on all things.’”
But, there is good news.
In this particular case, politics does not seem to be playing a role in people’s viewpoints on the matter. The data actually shows something quite different. The results of a YouGov poll released on Monday revealed that opinions on the incident varied among political affiliation.
Among all adults, about 61 percent disagreed with Smith slapping Rock, while 22 percent believed his actions were “acceptable.” Breaking it down by political affiliation, about 22 percent of Democrats, 22 percent of Republicans, and 21 percent of independents agreed that Smith was right. About 64 percent of Democrats, 62 percent Republicans, and 62 percent of independents believed the actor was wrong.
Also, despite the incident involving two black men, the progressive left is spinning its usual yarn about toxic masculinity. Here is but a small sampling:
this question is rhetorical. why is it that white feminists have labeled will smith’s behavior “toxic masculinity” but not chris rock’s pattern of belittling jada pinkett-smith and black women as a whole?
— Loni (They/Them) (@jaowrites) March 28, 2022
Fascinating that Chris Rock mocking Jada's hair / illness in public isn't toxic masculinity, but Will Smith slapping him over it is
Like Black women's hair and general appearance being treated as the constant punchline is just normal, but reacting to it stands out to you?
— Seth K. (@notsethforwork) March 28, 2022
Will Smith hitting someone and getting away with it is a perfect example of toxic masculinity and the way it is approved by society, especially for powerful men.
— Dr Kate Gregorevic (@DrKGregorevic) March 28, 2022
But even before the data was out, it wasn’t difficult to see this wasn’t a partisan issue. I saw people from both sides of the political spectrum arguing both sides of this. Indeed, my friend Darvio Morrow, who is also a conservative, wrote a piece defending Will Smith, while I think the actor went way overboard. Reasonable folks can disagree on this without it being partisan. If only other issues were this simple!
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