So, stop me if you’ve heard this one. Will Smith walks onto a stage and slaps Chris Rock for telling a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith.
That’s it. That’s the joke.
I guess you had to be there.
I wasn’t there, except I heard about it in my morning “news” feed, delivered top line from both The Washington Post and The Guardian which is how I knew this was an important happening. There are, of course, other important happenings, like a war in Europe and the spouse of a Supreme Court justice encouraging the former White House Chief of Staff to do a coup. But, then, one has come to expect news about war and also Republican subversion of American democracy. One does not, however, expect the guy who played the Fresh Prince of Bel Air to physically assault a ridiculous guy doing his ridiculous job on live TV.
When I have to think about Will Smith, I tend think about him as the Fresh Prince which is why the whole thing doesn’t really make sense to me because the Fresh Prince would just joke his way out of the very tense situation until Uncle Philip came around to set things right. Of course, Will Smith also played that guy on Suicide Squad so I’m not completely sure if Will Smith is an actual nice guy or if he just plays one on TV.
None of this really matters to me, except that now I do find myself thinking I should probably watch that King Richard movie and, also, does anybody know when Chris Rock’s new special is getting released and on which platform?
All of this recalls to mind the very excellent article by George Monbiot, “Celebrity Isn’t Just Harmless Fun — It’s the Smiling Face of Corporate Machine.” (Guardian. 2016dec20). You should read the whole thing but, if you don’t, here are my favorite bits:
“The machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours. It is pointless to ask what Kim Kardashian does to earn her living: her role is to exist in our minds.”
“The blander and more homogenised the product, the more distinctive the mask it needs to wear. This is why Iggy Pop was used to promote motor insurance and Benicio del Toro is used to sell Heineken.”
“You don’t have to read or watch many interviews to see that the principal qualities now sought in a celebrity are vapidity, vacuity and physical beauty. They can be used as a blank screen on to which anything can be projected. With a few exceptions, those who have least to say are granted the greatest number of platforms on which to say it.”
And this next isn’t a recommendation. It’s from an article I read about Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly. I read it so you don’t have to. You can get everything you need from this one delicious line:
“People get a hard time for “being famous for being famous” but if celebrities aren’t going to do anything actually useful like redistributing their wealth let them at least keep us entertained by wearing vials of each other’s blood.”Haidari, Niloufar. “‘Then we drank each other’s blood’: Megan Fox’s engagement is the return of the rockstar relationship.” The Guardian. 2022jan17.