Where were you when Will Smith hit Chris Rock?
Where were you when Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars? I would like to say that I, as a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, was watching it unfold live. But instead, I was at an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, watching a Tim Heidecker On Cinema At The Cinema Oscars special livestream, which was only marginally about the Oscars.
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Someone threw me out of just about any Oscars party I attended in the 1990s. Anyone who gave an Oscar party and made the mistake of inviting me soon got tired of my endless mockery of the ceremony and its pompous bullshit. For more than 20 years, I watched the Oscars alone, in the dark, wearing my bathrobe and drinking a glass of wine, like a low-rent alternative version of Rex Reed.
This year, I thought I’d do something different. I follow On Cinema at the Cinema on Twitter. It’s an Adult Swim show, essentially about how awful movie critics are, but it has its own weird semi-violent mythology. I can’t quite get into that stuff, but I love Gregg Turkington’s moronic and disheveled film critic. The vibe of On Cinema at the Cinema is basically: Movies are bullshit garbage. I decided to adopt that nihilistic vibe this year, especially when I saw they’d be streaming the livestream at an Alamo Drafthouse, and I have an Alamo season pass, so the show would cost me one dollar.
And that is how I came to watch Tim Heidecker interviewing Lee Garlington, a minor character actor from Psycho 2, at the exact moment that Will Smith smacked the crap out of Chris Rock at the Oscars.
“OMG WTF,” my wife texted.
“What?” I texted back. They were allowing us to use our phones at the Alamo during this presentation because a) it was full of technically glitches and b) featured 20-minute long breaks between segments. “What’s so funny?”
“Are u watching?” she texted back. “Will Smith and Chris Rock?! They had to mute it! Fight! Will Smith got offended by a joke about his ex and took a swing and cursed him out. Don’t think it was scripted. It was…” followed by three cringe emojis.
Jada is not his “ex,” but they do have an open marriage. Regardless, I texted back “no.” I was watching an extended joke about shit spewing out of a water faucet at an unincorporated San Bernardino Country ranch. Then, during an endless streaming delay followed by another 20-minute commercial break, I took to Twitter, watched the footage. Then the evening’s live host came up on stage and said “something just went down at the Oscars,” and cued up the clip that, by now, everyone in the world has seen.
Tim Heidecker couldn’t come up with something that ridiculous, and his show this year featured a pre-reenactment of the first scene of Tim Burton’s ‘Wonka’ prequel and a guy in a Scooby Doo costume dancing to what amounted to a Creed cover band. And for the first time in my life I found myself wishing I’d been watching the Oscars live.
On Cinema at the Cinema loses again. And no, Gregg Turkington, West Side Story did not win 10 Oscars.
Will Smith smacked the shit out of Chris Rock. The movies are swill. It was the best of Oscars, it was the worst of Oscars. I have no opinion to offer about what happened, I just have my mouth wide open like everyone else. Next year, I’ll watch alone in the dark with a glass of wine again. You can’t beat the Oscars for crazy.