No one is working as hard as the publicity team at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences this week, who just rolled out a truly perplexing statement in the wake of—you guessed it—The Slap.
On Wednesday, in a statement to the Associated Press, the Academy suggested that they sent someone to make Will Smith leave after he slapped Chris Rock. Except the statement is so oddly worded that it reads like an Academy guy approached Will Smith post-slap, like, “Hey man, it would be super cool if you left? No worries if not,” and Will just said, “Nah, I’m good,” so they just let him chill and then gave him Best Actor Award.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently,” the Academy said.
The organization went on to call The Slap “deeply shocking” and “traumatic,” before apologizing to Chris Rock and everyone watching the event: “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”
Considering Will Smith went on to win the award for Best Actor and give a lengthy acceptance speech, it doesn’t seem like the Academy tried very hard to get him off the premises—if that is what they really wanted to accomplish. I could reasonably understand their not wanting to remove him prior to the Best Actor prize being announced, but there was very clearly zero effort in trying to curb his speech. One would reasonably assume that if they actually wanted him to leave, they wouldn’t have let him talk so long.
The Academy is clearly trying to clean up this mess in any way it can. And it’s even wilder that they’re doing so on day three (3!) of this discourse. Late on Sunday night, they issued their first public statement via Twitter, claiming they don’t “condone violence of any form.”
This latest statement comes on the heels of the Academy’s board of governors meeting to “initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith” for violations against their standards of conduct, says AP. Smith can reportedly defend himself with a written response between now and April 18th. and, should he be disciplined, he could face anything from suspension to expulsion from the Academy.
Smith has already apologized for his actions, even directly to Rock on Instagram (though he reportedly hasn’t apologized privately to Rock and the two are NOT COOL), so it’s unclear what further blood the Academy is going for. Perhaps they need to take a look at the laundry list of abusers they currently have on their list of past winners and assess whether they need to organize an Oscars apology tour.
Neither the Academy nor Smith has responded to Jezebel’s request for comment.