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Academy ban of Will Smith met with disbelief and accusations of racism

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Will Smith accepts the lead actor award at the 2022 Oscars. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Will Smith is facing a 10-year ban from events hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for slapping Oscars presenter Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards in March. But reaction to the film academy’s decision on Friday was mixed, ranging from disbelief to accusations of racism.

While the ‘King Richard’ star has repeatedly apologized and accepted the academy’s decision, the organization argued his ban was ‘a step towards a larger goal of protecting the safety of our artists. and guests, and to restore confidence in the academy”.

But a lot of people on social media didn’t see it that way (and the celebrities were mostly silent).

Some critics called the academy’s decision against the “Fresh Prince” veteran racially motivated, while others saw it as the group making up for the lax repercussions of past transgressors.

They cited the inappropriate behavior of people like Oscar winner Adrien Brody, who kissed presenter Halle Berry in 2003, or comedian Jim Carrey, a Smith critic who made live advances on a reluctant Alicia Silverstone at MTV. of 1997. Film Awards.

“The 10-year ban they imposed on Will Smith feels like ‘taking a lesson from this black person'” tweeted author Frederick Joseph.

“It’s 100% racist”, wrote Twitter user Somari, responding to a news story about Smith’s punishment. “Jim Carrey sexually assaulted a woman on stage and she was visually distressed. Will Smith slaps a guy for making fun of an illness and gets banned for a decade.”

Others pitted the academy’s swift action with the ‘Ali’ and ‘Concussion’ actor against the delayed punishments involving disgraced Hollywood actors such as Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey.

Amid the #MeToo movement, the academy implemented a code of conduct in 2017 in response to the Weinstein sexual assault scandal. It has only expelled three people – “Shakespeare in Love” producer Polanski and comedian-writer Bill Cosby – since it was signed into law. (Weinstein and Polanski still have their Oscar trophies.)

“will smith become the face of ‘they don’t like us, just what we create’ wasn’t on my 2022 bingo card. how did a slap translate into this when they don’t haven’t banned real predators and racists yet??” added user @houseofphoton.

“let’s also ban oscars for 10 years. hell. so many predators still not banned…” tweeted user BEYTHOVEN.

“crazy how the oscars allowed racism and harassment to happen without consequences, but chose to ban the will for TEN YEARS for a slap in the face?? f— the oscars,” added user @ultrcmcr.

But there were a handful of people who supported the decision and many continued to scoff at the whole slap debacle.

“Sad ending to a bad episode. I’m baffled by those who say ‘Not good enough!’ as if the Academy were an industry-wide regulator. They’re only responsible for their show, of their rewards and members. And they are right to keep the rewards out of that,” wrote author Mark Harris.

“A tougher punishment would have been mandatory attendance for 10 years,” joked ‘Scandal’ alum Joshua Malina.

Here’s a look at some of the online talk surrounding the academy’s decision:

Times intern Kai Grady contributed to this story.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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