Politics At The Oscars: Peaceful Causes And Partisan Statements Get Overshadowed By Will Smith’s Smack

The 2022 Oscars recognized the war in Ukraine with a moment of silence, calls for donations and ribbons to remind of the crisis of refugees. “It’s impossible not to be moved by their resilience,” said Mila Kunis.

But any references to geopolitical causes or pleas for humanity were overshadowed by the blow that Will Smith landed on Chris Rock. It used to be that partisan statements triggered a bit of discord and division in the room; this time it was one of Rock’s crass jokes about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

That said, there were moments, starting with Wanda Sykes’ reference, in the opener, to Mitch McConnell, followed by a dig at Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which has caused a bit of contentiousness at The Walt Disney Co.

“For you people in Florida, we are going to have a gay night,” Sykes said. “Gay. Gay. Gay.”

Sykes later took aim at the wave of new voting restrictions when she presented a shredded piece of paper. “You like democracy? Here is a voter registration form for the state of Texas,” she said.

Later, Jessica Chastain, winning the best actress Oscar for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, also referred to the Florida bill. “We’re faced with bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us. There’s violence and hate crimes being perpetuated on innocent civilians all over the world.”

There were other references, tied to some of the historic wins of the evening, as when Ariana DeBose won supporting actress for West Side Story and referred to being an openly gay woman of color winning an acting award. When Troy Kotsur won for best actor for Coda, his mention of a visit to the White House last week, and a meeting with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, showed just what a moment this was for the deaf community.

The first lady congratulated the movie after it won best picture.

Some attendees wore blue ribbons to raise awareness for refugees, including those who have fled Ukraine, while others made reference to the situation. “Thank you, and viva Ukraine,” director Francis Ford Coppola said as he finished up an appearance with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Godfather.

By the end of this Oscars night, though, celebrities weren’t merely calling for peace in a far away conflict, but in the Dolby Theatre itself.

“Right now we are moving on with love,” Sean Combs assured the crowd.

Shortly after a tearful Smith accepted the actor statue and apologized to the Academy, Anthony Hopkins told the audience that the King Richard star “said it all. What more can be said? Let’s have peace and love and quiet.”

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