Will Smith has been making headlines across the globe after he stirred a huge controversy by smacking comedian-actor Chris Rock across his face for his joke about the actor’s wife during the Oscars. Following this, The Motion Picture Academy banned Will Smith from attending the Oscars or any other academy event for 10 years.
Smith a very well renowned American actor, rapper, and film producer has received various accolades, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and four Grammy Awards. Smith has achieved and held several U.S. and international box office records. As of 2021, his films have grossed over $9.3 billion globally, making him one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.
With a huge fan following, he began a new approach to social media in 2017 and earned millions through them. With 64.1m followers on Instagram, 9.87m subscribers on their YouTube channel and 71m fans on Tik Tok, the marketing heft it offers helps him secure eight-figure salaries. Smith also signed a deal with Snapchat for the lockdown series “Will from Home” during the pandemic.
Beyond the Academy’s action at least 2 studios Sony & Netflix are pausing their projects with Smith. Will the ban have a serious impact on his career or things will get back to normal within a short span from the fame established over years. Below are some views to be pondered over.
Jagdeep Kapoor – Founder-Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd. pointed out, “Act. Fact. Impact. The act was punished. The fact is that he is still very popular. The impact will have two parts. Officially banned. Unofficially not canned. For some, it was a slap. Others will still clap. Life will go on. Maybe faster. Because in this domain, controversy increases Top of Mind recall. Some will ROCK. Some will have a SHOCK. Star life goes on.”
N. Chandramouli – CEO, of TRA Research, observed, “There are two parts to this incident, the fact that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in a physical assault, and the fact that Chris Rock made a verbal assault on Will Smith’s wife, seemingly as humor. Either assault should not be condoned, since a verbal one can have a far deeper impact on the victim, than a physical one. That said, the reactions of the Oscars and the studios are more for public perception in my opinion, and not really to punish Will Smith. It may also be a direction setter for others in the future for the Oscars, giving them more authority. Will Smith’s future career would only be slightly impacted by this, as he can raise funds for home productions, and if these productions are successful with audiences, he can come out as a winner. One thing that can be said about Chris Rock’s career though – is that it will only see an upward spike after this incident. Such is the nature of such public fracas among celebrities.”
Vijeth Mulki – Founder-Director, Vijmax Films, remarked, “Will Smith is a global superstar. This incident will impact his career for a brief period but in the long run, it won’t make much of a difference as there are other Apps and Platforms like Apple+ and Lionsgate Play that will be keen to produce and showcase his films.
Many other producers will be ready to work with him and the theatrical audience anyways loves him and considers the slap as a retaliation to the insulting comment made against his wife by the host Chris Rock at the Oscars.
We live in such strange times that such controversies boost the appeal of a star even more.”
Deep Mehta, Co-Founder, DigiChefs, said, “Let’s first accept that Will Smith’s actions were incorrect and they had to be penalized today or tomorrow. Will Smith slapping Chris Rock was equivalent to a workplace riot in which a candidate would slap another candidate because the other candidate made a stupid joke. The ban by the Academy and now Netflix along with Sony is a good move to establish that responding with the violence of any form over any matter cannot be tolerated.”
“I think with the slap Will Smith showcased a very dark side to himself that is going to be remembered by the fraternity at Hollywood as well as the film production houses in the US for some time. I strongly believe that over the next couple of years a large set of producers are going to stay away from him since it’s pretty clear that the first question that reporters will ask at the film release to Will Smith will be ”Have you reconciled with Chris Rock yet?” He has hurt his brand image and he will have to pay the brunt of it with time. However, we all know how excellent an actor he is, and with time I feel he will win all of us over again,” Mehta added.
K.Ravindran, Sr. National Vice-President, PRCI, commented, “Smith’s career will no doubt take a hit after some time but presently it’s not really affecting his cheek rather it has garnered more publicity for himself for the wrong reason. Smith’s career may have a scar but, if he can adapt to Hollywood, it’s not necessarily over. His tearful best actor acceptance speech received a lot of accolades. In his resignation letter, the actor hinted that he wants to move forward, His reputation and career will solely depend on public opinion and that will be the turning point of his career. Perhaps once he comes up with a redemption story at the right time Smith will bounce back as a super-duper actor sooner or later.”
Braj Kishore, Co-founder – of ASB Communications Private Limited, remarked, “While during the short term, it does seem that he may face some headwinds as the unfortunate incident will remain baggage for him and all projects he would associate with. But in the medium to long term, it is the way he conducts himself in the interim, together with some astute PR, that may put this memory on the back burner. He should continue to focus on his performance, and manage his composure, particularly in any public space.”
Misbah Quadri, Founder & CEO, of Monofys Media, observed, “Public attention span and recall value for such incidents is low and the likelihood of the actor suffering long term impact professionally are quite negligible, I feel. Apart from his absence from Oscar events and a couple of million memes – there isn’t much that will tarnish his easy-going, likable, talented personality. In the words of Smith himself – “Change takes time, and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.” It was just bad blood between two longtime friends and I think they will resolve it between them in time.”
She further added, “So, although, the 10-year sentence is quite excruciatingly long, it is a fit sentence to serve as a reminder to him for his public actions but then I don’t reckon that this will have a major impact on his brand value in the long run. Moreover, the ban does not mean that Smith’s future films will not be eligible for nominations and awards because that would not just be a punishment for a single actor but the large pool of technicians and production teams working on a single project associated with the actor. Smith did share a statement on the development too – “I accept and respect the academy’s decision,” which was a saving grace. His actions shortly will also need to be carefully crafted by his team and should not further irk the public sentiment. In short, if handled well ahead, his career will emerge as a survivor from this tragedy.”
Husain Arif Habib, Co-Founder of HUA Digital, commented, “Through a marketing point of view and him being a brand itself, there’s considerably a huge impact that his career should see coming. A single red carpet appearance gives a personality a lot of attention in the best way. Shortly after the incident at the Oscars, he received an academy award for best actor that was retracted. That’s a huge loss. Each award makes a difference and this one did too. To state the obvious, fewer people will be willing to work with him in the future which results in fewer quality films. Directors now know that they will not be able to receive awards and give their film the name it deserves. Sony & Netflix have paused their projects with Will Smith. OTT platforms are booming and your presence on them is imperative. This way, Will Smith’s branding takes a hit.”