As I listen to media folks obsess over the “slap heard round the world” at the Oscars, my memory takes me back to a 1988 “60 Minutes” segment about jazz legend Miles Davis. Davis’ ominous demeanor had interviewer Harry Reasoner squirming in his chair.
There was, however, one thing Davis said during that interview that still rings true to me. It was when Reasoner asked him about his marriage to, and divorce from, actress Cicely Tyson. After a long pause, the perpetually pensive Davis finally replied that the problem he had with Cicely was that (paraphrase) “actors are always playing their last movie role in real life.”
That long-ago interview came to mind when I saw the video of Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the Oscars. Apparently, Smith was playing out his roles as Richard Williams in “King Richard” and Muhammad Ali in “Ali” in real life. What a great role model. For obvious reasons, it was a slap in the face to African-Americans everywhere.
None of this should have surprised anyone, however, given that Hollywood is overflowing with male actors who make asses of themselves trying to portray their tough-guy screen images even when the cameras aren’t rolling. Think Bobby De Niro embarrassingly trying to be Jimmy “The Gent” Conway from Goodfellas by saying “I’d like to punch (Donald Trump) in the face.” Or pathetic Alec Baldwin, who has become a caricature of himself as he stumbles through his troubled life without any hint of embarrassment.
Like the FBI, Hollywood needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the bottom up. When the number of mentally unbalanced people in your ranks passes 50 percent, it’s time to send them off to reeducation camps and start over with new faces. Until then, the vast majority of us commoners will continue to say “no thanks” to watching the Oscars.