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Will Smith and OJ Simpson

Will Smith decided to slap Chris Rock on stage at this year’s Oscars. We need to be clear about what happened: it was a slap, not a hit—not a punch. This matters because everyone is very excited—will be excited for about 36 hours—over the whole incident. I have heard it ventured that Smith defended his honour—that he was a real man; I have heard it ventured that he defended his wife’s honour—and so was a double-cuck; and I have heard it ventured that this had nothing to do with honour at all. To be clear: Smith was definitely, as they say, beta in this incident—his mild physical violence notwithstanding.

Context: Chris Rock slept with Smith’s wife—and then made a somewhat esoteric joke about it in his routine, with a reference to GI Jane (1997) and Smith’s wife. I was sent an “explainer” from the Metro that explained the details—as with all explainers, it explained nothing. All it told me was that in GI Jane Demi Moore shaved her head—an excellent choice—to join the SEALs and that Smith’s wife has alopecia and has taken the GI Jane route to preempt patchy baldness. The article neglected to mention that throughout GI Jane Moore cheated on her real-world husband; so Rock’s joke about GI Jane worked on multiple levels—particularly to antagonise Smith.

Despite surprise at the situation, Rock took the slap like a champ and carried on without a missed beat. In fact, by the time Smith was back in his seat Rock was fully recovered and had made a detached comic observation to the effect that he had just been bitch-slapped by Will Smith; he then gave a particularly self-satisfied grin—he retained amused mastery, alpha dominance, throughout. Smith, eyes somewhat flecked with semi-tears, shouted hurt outrage from the audience, while a woman next to him gollywogged her eyes to Al Jolson proportions in faux shock—doubtless she will dine out on this story for months, if not years.

Who slaps people? Women and queers—not men. A man punches or hits; and some people have said Smith hit Rock, since that is what they would like to have happened or prefer to think happened. Why did Smith slap? Well, he is an actor: so what was he really after? Drama and social disapproval, as with a woman.

Slaps sting but there is also something comically ineffectual about them. Really, Smith wanted to make a big noise so that everyone knew what an awful man Rock is. So far as that objective went Smith succeeded; he drew everyone’s attention to Rock’s sadistic double-bind game—and he probably garnered a certain sympathy from a global audience; and an actor naturally feeds on such a situation.

Suitably collected, Smith later went up to receive an Oscar; so the whole incident could be relegated to the WWE level. All that was required was some dry ice and a suitable commentary: “Oh no, I don’t believe it! It’s Will ‘the Fresh Prince’ Smith in the crowd...and, he’s mad. Ladies and gentlemen, he’s through the ropes—I can’t believe this—he’s into the ring; and he’s angry. Ladies and gentlemen, this has never before happened in WWE history—he’s, he’s gone in for a slap. Incredible…”

Smith is probably physically strong enough—though he is quite slight—to knock Rock out. So why not go all in? For a start, I suspect that he doesn’t care that much; sure, he had semi-tears in his eyes when he was back in the audience and he pulled a face like an offended rooster at Rock’s joke—and that was all somewhat genuine—but he is an actor. He can cry on command; and he could take a fairly minor emotion and amp it up for effect before he dialled it back down to pick up his Oscar.

Further, Smith calculated that if Rock decided to press charges a slap carries a lighter sentence when compared to a full punch; and, after all, this isn’t the movies—if you really punch someone so they go down you can kill them if they hit their head in the right way; and besides, if what you really want is sympathy and narcissistic supply then a full punch would be overkill and would lose you sympathy—it would be perceived as too much in response to a joke. Smith was together enough to take all this into account; and as an actor—an image-maker—he almost certainly did so, even if unconsciously and very quickly.

So Smith more or less got what he wanted from a narcissistic perspective; he will experience at least 36 hours where he is more important than the war in the Ukraine—and millions of people will take his side: “Chris Rock, eh—always thought he was a bastard.” Of course, millions more will hold Smith in contempt, but from the narcissistic perspective the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

From the masculine perspective, Smith looked weak and pathetic—he managed to make a bad situation worse. Masculinity is primarily about restraint and reduction, so an excessive flouncy display will always come across as feminine; especially if you lose your cool over an issue, cuckoldry, that already emasculates. The more masculine response is roughly: all women are whores—in the sense that they are duplicitous; and many men will take what they can where they can, and may well sadistically torment you when they do—indeed, some derive particular sexual satisfaction from the cuckoldry game (from both sides). As such, it is a mistake to centre your life around women—or, indeed, the actions of other men—so that their actions can upset your emotional equilibrium and your objectives.

In these terms, a Smith-type display is unmanly—an emotional outburst that was undignified and left him the weaker party. You can get mad or get even; and this is why Smith’s actions were not virtuous, the minimum virtuous action would have been to punch Rock out cold and then calmly return to his seat. Instead, we had a spectacle of tearful ineffectual recriminations batted way with amused mastery. Rock taunted Smith and then made him look like a fool a second time, except for the whole world.

However, from Smith’s perspective—the Hollywood perspective—his actions were not irrational; he lives in narcissism world, and that means feminine world—emotional drama world. Deep down, he will feel that he has lost self-respect; however, the compensation will be the massive attention he will receive—much will be supportive and laudatory. He has been rewarded for this behaviour his entire life, and the current episode will only augment his legend as an actor—except it is not really a legend in the true sense, more like a gossip episode that will last at most two more decades (worth a 120-second slot in an Oscar retrospective in twenty-five years, perhaps).

This is why actors are not serious people—not men—and their predominance in a society means it is undignified and decadent; and this tendency is even more pronounced in a progressive society that holds that feminine behaviour, unrestrained narcissistic emotional outbursts, constitutes high-status activity. No need to go full Taliban, even sixty years ago Western women were expected to maintain reasonable decorum, to wear sensible clothes and so on, whereas today women and children are very definitely seen and heard—as are the feminine men who emulate them for status.


OJ Simpson decided to get even: American football is also very much entertainment, but it is more serious and masculine than Hollywood. Simpson’s crime was not quite a crime of passion, since the whole business was stretched out over time; he didn’t surprise Nicole in bed with her lover—quite the contrary, he once snuck up on her house to watch them from the distance (so sordid). Yet there is no evidence that there was deep premeditation, the murder was very much on the fly—murder is a stupid crime, almost always committed on the fly. Despite the intrigue, most men who commit murder are stupid—the ones that are caught, anyway. They have poor impulse control and kill someone in the heat of the moment—and poor impulse control is associated with low intelligence.

It’s pretty easy to imagine “the perfect murder” if you have high impulse control: take the victim out on a boat trip, get them drunk, then push them in the sea; so long as you gave no serious indication they had crossed you the crime leaves no evidence. In the extraordinarily unlikely circumstances they survive it would be hard even to blame you—you could get them so drunk they would be unable to tell if you pushed them in.

There are even more subtle ways to commit murder than this; and a person with greater intelligence, patience, and motive than me could do so—the police are not bright, so there probably is an undetected murder cohort out there right now. Fortunately, people with the impulse control to plan such an act are rarely guided by their passions and are more likely to discreetly work round the problem—murder usually being more bother than it’s worth. Of course, secret services are organisations with the intelligence, time, and incentives to plan many such completely discreet murders….

Simpson’s response was more masculine. Due to the West’s progressive feminisation there is a tendency to say that the adultery issue is between the man and the woman—Smith’s real anger was with his wife, perhaps. Adultery is a property transgression: if a man forced his way into your flat you would not blame the lock on the door or the flat itself—you would blame the man. When a man sleeps with another man’s woman it is an attack on that man; it is a property violation; and that is why you are correct to push back primarily against the man, not the woman—yet this should not be interpreted so that women are considered innocent.

We live in a disordered society where women are not considered property, so people fall into delusions that somehow this about “a problem in the relationship” or a similar notion—or “the woman’s fault”, although women do not really have autonomy. In the same way, people in Britain are threatened with prosecution if they stab someone who breaks into their home; and this is because property has been undermined in Britain—a woman and a home both being property. In the same way, you are not expected to commit a crime of passion (a Latin legal concept really) or punch the other man out because you “don’t own no woman”—so where is the problem?

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