The internet is buzzing with shock over the severity of Will Smith’s punishment by the Academy. Ten years suspension, no attending the Oscars for a decade. No participation in Academy activities.
Is it too much? It feels like it. I would have rather seen three years and a joint investigation into what happened, what caused a normally composed person to lose his mind on live TV, a discussion about anger, etc. But right now no one wants to hear that. They just want a pound of flesh.
There’s another element to the whole slap-Oscar ban. What Smith did after the Oscars was almost worse than his act of violence. Having won his Academy Award, Smith skipped the Governor’s Ball completely. That was the first thumbing of his nose. And then he went to Vanity Fair’s celebrity orgy and danced the night away, rapping his greatest hits and really sticking it to the Academy and to Chris Rock.
This part of the evening will haunt him forever, and it should also haunt Vanity Fair. Yes, the Vanity Fair philosophy is that they welcome whoever will get them publicity. It really doesn’t matter what you’ve done.
But by welcoming Smith after this live TV debacle, they affixed their stamp of approval. Smith felt at home in their big drafty tent to do whatever he wanted. They loved it because they were using him. Vanity Fair’s so called leadership has ruined their magazine by having no point of view. This point of view diminishes them in circulation and certainly now editorially. It’s hard for the magazine to do much more harm to itself, but maybe the remaining readers should consider that Vanity Fair contributed as much to Will Smith’s downfall as he did.