THR: AMPAS members are losing their minds over Will Smith’s Oscar-bait film

On Monday, AppleTV dropped the first trailer for Emancipation, the Antoine Fuqua film starring Will Smith as “Whipped Peter,” a Southern slave who escaped and joined the Union Army. There was a lot of talk about Emancipation even during Will’s King Richard Oscar campaign, talk about how the film was Will’s huge passion project. Apple spent a lot of money on it. Which means that Apple studio executives were trying to figure out if the film’s release should be postponed for a year after Will slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, and they decided to just release it as originally planned in December. We knew in the aftermath of the slap that Academy members – mostly older white folks – were absolutely beside themselves with performative outrage that a grown man slapped another grown man. Well, now that six months has passed, you’d think that would have given those Academy members some perspective, right? Wrong. The Hollywood Reporter contacted a long list of Academy members (from all different branches) about Apple’s decision to release Emancipation, and what Will’s Oscar campaign might look like. I’m left with the impression that Academy members are the most out-of-touch hypocrites in the world. Here is some of the most ridiculous pearl-clutching you’ll ever see:

Member of actors branch: “I think more time should go by before Will Smith is considered for any award. I’m surprised Emancipation is being released, but I assume it’s for financial reasons, as well as hoping for award nominations. However wonderful he may be in the film, it will be hard to watch it and not continually think of the slap. It will be really hard to judge the performance on merit, and by extension the whole film.”

Member of directors branch: “I think Will Smith should have been asked to take part in an Academy-mandated anger-management program before being readmitted or having his work considered for awards. Apple, of course, can do whatever they wish, but the Academy should not feel compelled to buy into the circus that will surround this project.”

Member of directors branch: “No chance I would vote for him. However, I support the release of Emancipation. We need some good films out there, which I am assuming and hope this is. This is likely coming from Smith — the decision to release it now, I mean — and it shows the same hubris and arrogance that had him go dancing after the Oscars.”

Lawrence David Foldes, member of producers branch: “I was surprised but not surprised learning of the release of Emancipation this year. Surprised because I believe that the industry should shun Smith, not embrace and boost his image. Not surprised because of Apple’s interest in recovering its investment and hoping to cash in on, and profit from, Smith’s involvement. However, bigger films with larger losses have been shelved for lesser things — and not demonstrating to the public that the industry has some morsel of integrity and ethics only further validates the public’s impression that our industry’s hunger for dollars above all else. Would I vote for Smith? NO F–KING WAY. His shameful violent outburst and pathetic sniveling ‘acceptance’ diatribe witnessed by millions — and his blatant disrespect of the Academy — should preclude him from any consideration and reward from AMPAS members for life.”

Member of producers branch: “In this climate, I don’t think Will will get a day pass. If he happens to get nominated, he’s a sitting duck — no one will book him to promote anything.”

Member of executives branch: “Would I vote for Will Smith? Not a chance.”

Member of music branch: “Nominating Will Smith would be a slap in the face to the Academy.”

[From THR]

These are the same people who covered up their years-long alliances with Harvey Weinstein, these are the same people who voted for Roman Polanski – a convicted rapist – for Best Director, these are the same people who gave Brad Pitt an Oscar after he terrorized his wife and children on a plane. Give me a f–king break with all of this. I wonder if Academy voters realize how out of touch they sound? And worse yet, they’re showing the world that they are more outraged at Will slapping Chris Rock than Academy members and Oscar winners who have raped, assaulted, abused and even killed people. The funniest one was “no one will book him to promote anything.” Are you joking? I’m sure every TV show has called Will for months – he could get booked on the Today Show this week, he could get his own primetime special with Oprah, all of the late-night talk show guys would love to have him too.

I think what bugs me the most is that Will was one of the most well-liked, most reputationally-bulletproof, and most professional guys in Hollywood and all it took was one mistake and they’re ready to shred him and his career forever.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar, poster courtesy of AppleTV.

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64 Responses to “THR: AMPAS members are losing their minds over Will Smith’s Oscar-bait film”

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  1. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Also sounds like assaulting women is fine. But a man? What if it had been a white man who’d been slapped?!! Oh, quelle horror! We cannot allow this and he must be shunned and never spoken of again. (A slap barely counts as assault, BTW, because it rarely causes injury.)

    There’s a stench of racism in the frenzy over who should get permanently cancelled and who gets a second shot.

    • Lucy says:

      Idk…when an ex slapped me, I considered it assault because IT IS.

    • Kelly says:

      Wow. So it’s not abusive if it doesn’t cause injury?

      I hope you’re single and childfree.

      • ThatsNotOkay says:

        You and @Lucy need to look up the laws in this country. Then change them. What I’ve stated is the truth, legally. In truth you can slap all the people you want and you’d barely get in trouble. The laws state, there needs to be a serious threat and there needs to be injury for it to be criminal. Civilly, you might get somewhere, a four-figure settlement if that. But criminally, hardly anything. Take it up with your local leaders and Congresspeople.

      • Lucy says:

        Firstly, a good many readers of this site are not American. Secondly, you demonstrate zero awareness or empathy for victims. And finally, attitudes like this perpetuate the system that protects abusers. I am shocked by these comments on CB today. Just…wow.

      • ThatNotOkay says:

        @Lucy You are not American. Fine. That might be why you didn’t get the fact that my initial comment was full of sarcasm. Or maybe you did, I don’t know. But your outrage, to me, seems misplaced, because I was pointing out the hypocrisy in how a man slapping another man in public is the worst thing in the world, whereas men who beat women or rape them, etc., continue to get chance after chance. Maybe nuance is best left off the Internet.

      • MeganC says:

        Sorry, but I don’t see any sarcasm or nuance in your comment. I don’t know what state you live in, but where I live it is 100% against the law to slap someone.

      • Lucy says:

        @thatsnotokay Is it “outrage” or seeking clarification on a problematic comment? If I had truly misunderstood you, a simple “I am sorry that happened to you. Nobody should be slapping anyone. Here is what I meant…” would have gone a long way. But no. Zero empathy or understanding. Instead you doubled down and continued to gaslight me, a DV survivor, across two threads and put it on victims to *checks notes* vote to have laws changed. Yeah…no.

    • Chris says:

      Good point – many of these same folks undoubtedly rail to their friends about “cancel culture” and how unfair it is, but will happily bury Will under the bus forever. I’m not a Will Smith stan, and thought what he did was idiotic, but good god the pearl clutching on this ridiculous:

      – yes, the joke wasn’t great, but people act like Chris Rock made was making fun of someone with Down Syndrome. Jada’s not dying of cancer. Her condition causes hair loss and she opted to shave her head. So what? Not exactly an unusual look for Black women in Hollywood, and particularly for Jada who has always worn short hair. Would the joke have landed better if it referenced the Dora Milaje instead of a 25 year old movies starting Demi Moore?

      – Will was not standing up for his wife. Will was trying to be a tough guy when he realized Jada didn’t laugh. People forget that while Will is a major movie star, his reputation is basically “harmlessly likeable” – he’s not considered tough. He also spent the last year hearing about how his wife cuckolded him – though ironically, what he did at the Oscars basically left no doubt that he’s a cuckold.

      – at the same time, these pearl clutchers in Hollywood have happily overlooked far worse behaviour than that. The hand wringing from this crowd is beyond ridiculous at this point. The issue for them is not the slap – its that it happened at their precious show, since these folks spend most of their time with heads up their own butts.

  2. Rapunzel says:

    More disproportionate outrage from people acting like this was the most violent act ever. At this point, they can all take a seat. Mandated anger management? Over one slap? This is just ridiculous at this point.

    • Josephine says:

      I don’t think the speaker has any right to talk about mandated anger management when he or she was not part of the situation and knows nothing. I have no doubt the speaker wouldn’t think about that for a white man.

      But it would by no means be ridiculous to have someone in anger management for the clear willingness to hit another person.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Anger management should not be mandated for one slap by a guy with no prior history of violent behavior.
        Not everyone who commits one act of violent behavior needs anger management.

  3. Alaina says:

    I was embarrassed and sad for will more than anything.

  4. girl_ninja says:

    Let’s add Brad Pitt beating his wife and kid while under the influence. Rapists and women beaters are allowed to roll into the academy but not Will. Let’s not forget ole Ezra Miller. The outrage is bullshit and the academy is a joke.

    • Lucy says:

      This part. Assaulting women and children? Totally okay!

    • ChillinginDC says:

      No notes.

    • MissMarirose says:

      This right here. There’s a long list of KNOWN assailants in the Academy, but only Will Smith has to pay a price in his career.

    • Fabiola says:

      Had Brad Pitt assaulted his wife and kids at the Oscar’s then he would have gotten the same treatment as Will Smith. The academy does not care what people do outside of the Oscar’s just at the event.

  5. North of Boston says:

    I kind of agree with what the first quote says. It will be hard to lose myself in the film and not be thinking of Will Smith as Will Smith and picturing that moment.

    It’s like with Tom Cruise – For years I really couldn’t watch anything he was in without thinking “it’s Tom Cruise” and thinking about him jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa.

    • whatever says:

      I totally agree with this. Some actors simply have a persona that is too distinct outside of their films, and I never see the character and forget that I’m watching THEM. I have never watched a Will Smith movie and forgotten that it was Will Smith. And that was before the slap. Whereas I can watch a movie with Tilda Swinton and completely forget who it is, and just see the character.

      And that has nothing to do with Smith’s race. Who can ever watch a Mel Gibson movie and not immediately associate him with his anti-semitic tirade? Or see Michael Richards in something and not immediately think of his racist lunacy?

  6. Becks1 says:

    So I think one of the big differences between what Will did and the other crimes you listed Kaiser were that none of those happened on the live telecast of the Oscars. Seeing some live always affects people differently than not seeing it live and of course makes it impossible to sweep under the rug and to use terms like “allegedly.” Because of that, these Academy members feel that Smith directly attacked the integrity of the Academy in a way that they can pretend Polanski Weinstein et al did not. (notIce I say they can “pretend” they did not, bc they definitely did; I think in particular these Academy members quoted here don’t realize how many people look questionably at every Oscar won by an actor/actress/film that was associated with Weinstein.)

    NOW that said while I said that’s one of the “big differences” I actually don’t mean that I think its that big a difference, because slapping someone (while not something that should be encouarged), is not the same thing as using your position to harass, assault and rape women over decades, and then destroy their careers if you don’t get what you want. Even if one was live on TV, you still can’t put those things in the same category.

    So basically despite my opening comment, I’m calling BS on all these Academy members, either its about the art (their defense for Weinstein, Polanski, Pitt, etc) or its not. How coincidental that they have changed the “rules” for a successful black actor.

    this line, Kaiser – “I think what bugs me the most is that Will was one of the most well-liked, most reputationally-bulletproof, and most professional guys in Hollywood and all it took was one mistake and they’re ready to shred him and his career forever.”

    Yes, I think that’s what bugs me the most too. It feels like people were just sitting around waiting for him to eff up so they could have an excuse to cancel him.

    • Haylie says:

      One has to commit acts of pedophilia acts or sexually assault women on live telecast before people will be moved to outrage?

      Nah. It’s pretty much just racism with a convenient excuse as a cover. If Harvey Weinstein got out of prison tomorrow, the academy would have him in a front row seat asap. Never mind the room full of known rapists, child abusers and women beaters the academy will yuk it up with at Oscar parties.

      • Becks1 says:

        That’s kind of my point…its a convenient cover that makes Smith different from the others but it’s really because he’s not a white man.

        And yeah nothing I said defended Weinstein.

      • Roxy says:

        Honestly this is all just a convenient excuse for pay back for #OscarsSoWhite. They still remember it and they’re still bitter about the fact that he dared to call out their racism AND acted against it.

        They’re not just against a black man, they’re against a black man who dared to stand against racism

      • Tessa says:

        that is absolute BS. Weinstein would not be in the front row or anywhere in the audience. If you can’t even admit that, you’re clearly not interested in any kind of objectivity.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree. I think everyone witnessing it live and in person is allowing them to react this way, whereas other horrible deeds are excused as “he said/she said” or “we weren’t there, we don’t know”. How Woody Allen is treated is another good example.
      I can understand there being some repercussions, an organization like that can’t just pretend it never happened at their event (though they’ve done so in the past), but people saying they’d never vote for him or can’t see past this to his work seems over the top.

  7. Suze says:

    All this outrage from the people who gave Roman Polanski a standing ovation, who gave Casey Affleck Best Actor, some of whom are pushing forward with The Flash despite everything with Ezra Miller… Miss me with this performative hand-wringing about Will Smith.

    • Steph says:

      What did Casey do?

      • Lizzie Bathory says:

        On one of his films, he apparently crawled into bed with one woman working on the project while she was sleeping. Other women alleged he tried to trap them in hotel rooms while pressuring them for sex. It’s also been alleged that he directed a man on set to expose himself to the women who complained, plus other allegations of harassment.

      • Lucy says:

        Brie Larson’s face while handing him the award really says it all.

  8. Imara219 says:

    The thing is that the Black community (not as a whole but by appearances a slim majority) are supportive of Will and rallying behind him and are buzzing about this film. The main dissenting attitude towards this film is “are we tired of only having our stories be slave stories,” which has been a conversation for some time now.

    • Coldbloodedjellydonut says:

      I would love to see more black-focused non-slave movies. I can’t bear to watch people being tortured and while it’s so important to speak the truth about what happened and how it echoes through to today, I can’t make myself consume it.

      I’m looking forward to Woman King (it’s at my theater now and I’m going to see it on the weekend) because it’s a story about a culture I don’t know a ton about that tells a different story about black people and women. I hope it’s good & I hope we have more from pre-slavery times. This is a major civilization, they’ve got to have movie-worthy stories. We’ve had a lot about Rome, etc, give us something else.

      • Tessa says:

        This. Africa has some fascinating cultures that we know next to nothing about. Make movies about their kings, queens, scientists, adventures. Black culture is so much more than what they went through in America.

  9. Joanne says:

    The Academy had no problem with John Wayne attempting to assault Sascheen Littlefeather. He was held back by five security guards. No one suggested banning him.

    • Lucy says:

      Exactly! May she rest.

    • Tessa says:

      That is such an inane comment. Academy members today are completely different people than Academy members then. And they clearly did have a problem if guards held him back. Are you suggesting that if Academy once failed to react in a certain way decades ago, they are never allowed to reconsider? So, if we once lynched people, we might as well keep lynching people and not act like we suddenly find it criminal?

  10. Amie says:

    This is so embarrassing for the Academy. What a joke. And no doubt he will get booked on a lot if shows IF he chooses to promote the movie. He might not. But that’ll be his choice. N

  11. Case says:

    I understand why he’s not allowed to attend the event (although 10 years is wildly excessive). However, that should have nothing to do with him winning if it is deserved. Because really, they’re two separate things — it’s reasonable to not get asked back to a professional event for a while if you lost control last time and smacked someone on live TV. But the *event* is just that, and has nothing to do with who deserves the actual awards. They give awards to literal abusers all the time, yet they can’t move on from his one indiscretion? Very apparent racism.

  12. DouchesOfCambridge says:

    Weinstein was the start of a movement. Reactions wouldnt be like this today without #metoo and everything that ensued. Will’s actions were absolutely repulsive and killed his image. You reap what you sow. In Will’s case, he is a smart man, im sure he’ll make it out of this mess soon. The Academy’s general feel to me is still racist though

    • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

      Um, the Academy’s reaction would absolutely be the same of not worse.
      MeToo was about women (and a few men) voicing the sexual violence and harassment they experienced while WORKING. MeToo changed nothing. The people who hired and covered for abusers still have jobs, nearly all the abusers who were exposed still have jobs and are working, Time’s Up was abuser-capture—it was lead by an Andrew Cuomo attorney hired specifically to help squash the SH allegations against him!! The organization was designed by the talent agencies that supported Weinstein and other rampant abusers.

      In the context of everything that has been reported on and discussed on this site JUST TODAY, to write that Smith’s “actions” were “repulsive” is racist hyperbole.

      This is not about whether or not was Will Smith did was wrong and it never was: it’s about an institution comprised of violent white people pretending it’s uncomfortable with ANY violence to punish a Black couple while still protecting and awarding violent white people at great cost.

      • ChillinginDC says:

        Metoo did not one blessed thing. It got coopeted by HW and they brought some women to the awards ceremonies and that was it.

  13. Palm trees says:

    What!?! Black people are not rallying behind this movie. They a rightly asking why another slave trauma movie when there are so many other black historical stories to tell.

    • Tessa says:

      Because it’s Oscar bait. He’s making them choose between snubbing a slave movie or eating their words about him.

      • Coco says:

        He not doing sh*t this movie was already filmed before the incident happened and Apple decided to release it not him.

  14. Well Wisher says:

    I am rooting for anyone who made millions of dollars for people in that industry, but was devalued and managed to go out of their own.
    To make their own projects, to employ people with talent who was shut out before.
    To the Ava Duvernays.
    So when they choose to actually do their own projects, properly using their talent, artistry and believability can see people win Oscar’s and produce material that speaks to the human condition.
    To the Denzel Washingtons.
    To the Viola Davis.
    The self-imposed public destruction of Will Smith have failed.
    As a member of an audience, we deserve nice things.
    I hope that the film finds its audience around the world, Disney recoup its investment and make a profit.

    Ryan Coogler was right to refuse the invitation to join the director’s union.

  15. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    F*ck the academy.

  16. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    I really don’t care that Will slapped Chris but I’m infuriated that Chris has still not apologized to Jada and that no one is talking about him insulting her in the most devastating way possible! How the f@ck did Chris become the victim here?!

  17. Miss Owlsyn says:

    Really, what these Academy members are saying if that they personally cannot, and don’t think that they should have to, separate the art from the artist. Which is all fine and good. But these quotes are forever. These quotes are still around when Brad Pitt’s next moving period piece or Woody Allen’s newest offbeat quirky love story drops. They need to keep this same energy, because the Internet remembers.

  18. Mia4s says:

    These narcissists take the Oscars deadly seriously, so what they are not saying is they are really upset because THEY feel embarrassed. They separate the art from the artist on some of the worst people imaginable. Because the Academy is about ART!! (*side eyeing to the end of time) But heaven forbid you not show proper deference in public to the almighty Academy and its ceremony (the racial undertones of this situation could fill a book series 🙄).

    Calm down Academy, a good percentage of is have considered this whole song and dance a joke for a long time.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Right?! The project will succeed or fail on its own merits, regardless of what Academy members think. And if Chris Rock thinks these people give two sh*ts about him, I have a bridge for sale.

  19. K says:

    And yet Woody Allen is just dandy. And Johnny Depp is a great guy. And hey…Brad Pitt got is just a dad who loves his kids, right? I was upset that Will hit Chris Rock. It was wrong. But we have known abuse of women and children by the above and lots more and Will is getting all of this??! Come on AMPAS , we can see you, hypocrites.

  20. MerryGirl says:

    And let’s not forget Woody Allen is still allowed to make movies and celebrate achievements after his sordid grooming/affair/marriage with his step daughter. Hypocrites.

  21. jferber says:

    I hope he gets an Oscar nomination at the same time that he is banned from attending the Oscars. Then Will’s beautiful wife can attend and pick up the Oscar for him.

  22. FF says:

    White jealousy of Black success is a real thing. This is revealing just how hateful and resentful a lot of people have been behind Will’s back. The Black community will take note.

    Also, they’re trying really hard to sabotage his work before it reaches the possibility of public support by repeatedly recontextualizing it and him negatively so that the association (they hope) sticks.

    • Tessa says:

      No. It is not a real thing.

      • FF says:

        History says otherwise. You believe what you like.

      • Coco says:


        It’s definitely a real thing, I’m not sure if you leave under a rock or are white and have the mind set of if it doesn’t effect me is doesn’t exist.

        Not only do you have to look at history, but it’s happening today.

  23. Nanz says:

    “ I think what bugs me the most is that Will was one of the most well-liked, most reputationally-bulletproof, and most professional guys in Hollywood and all it took was one mistake and they’re ready to shred him and his career forever.”

    ALL. OF. THIS.

  24. Mina_Esq says:

    I’d never dismiss violence, but punishment has to fit the crime. This is all too much, especially from this crowd for cowards and hypocrites. Of course it’s racism. It’s their chance to finally crush Will’s career and devalue all of his successes. I’m sure these mothereffers are lining up to give Johnny Depp his comeback. Gross.

  25. Hereforthegossip says:

    It’s because he’s BLACK.
    All this performative faux outrage over the slap is just a cover for the ugly truth of it. The same Academy that celebrated RAPIST Roman Polanski with a standing ovation, still celebrates RAPIST Woody Allen, and covered for and celebrated RAPIST Harvey Weinstein for DECADES with the industry knowing what all of them were doing but mmkay sure it’s because he slapped Chris Rock.
    All these stunt queen antics from the ancient #OscarsSoWhiteCrew

  26. Hatemecuzyouaintme says:

    If anyone came up and slapped me idc where you’re from, I’m slapping back. Why the fuck do people not from America give a fuck about the awards? There are about 10 people who truly care. I still think it was a set up to generate interest back into the flailing viewership of the awards. No slap, and no one would have cared or continued to talk about the awards. Use ya brain folks.