Everybody loves a good joke. Laughter is good medicine. But not at the expense of someone else (although America has a slew of comedians who built massive careers on it). We’ve all laughed at jokes targeting people (stop, before you get to lying and denying, ask yourself why do you watch sitcoms and/or reality tv?) But when you target someone’s disability or health condition with the intent to embarrass or humiliate, it’s no longer comedy, it’s malicious bullying and abuse.
So that’s where we found ourselves Sunday night during the Oscar’s live broadcast (I didn’t watch in real time because I was listening to The Wheel of Time Book 6: The Lord of Chaos – thanks audible!). Chris Rock, love him or hate him, tickles a lot of funny bones so the Oscar’s felt he’d be a great emcee for the show. Little did the producers know he had a surprise joke line-up for them, at Jada Pinkett-Smith’s expense.
For those who don’t know what the G.I. Jane reference is from, it was a movie from the early 1990s starring Demi Moore (a white actress) who played an army soldier. Demi had to shave her hair for the role. Here’s where the problems start. Demi Moore CHOSE to shave her hair for work. Jada did not. Jada chose to shave her hair due to a medical condition she has been struggling with for years. A condition that causes the same angst and anxiety felt by those affected by chemo therapy.
So, based on the LOUD and DISRESPECTFUL commentary that flooded the internet streets IMMEDIATELY after the slap heard round the world, people wanted to BLAME Jada for the outcome of Chris Rock’s tasteless joke. Would he have told a similar joke in regards to Angelina Jolie while she was ill? Or to Sinead O’Conner who recently lost her son? Black women sacrifice for the greater good daily but it’s supposed to be acceptable to disrespect, humiliate, and degrade us after all our usefulness has been milked dry?
During my little bit of years in life I glean lessons from all who are willing to share and one lesson I received from an older woman years ago was this: people may not remember what you said, but they ALWAYS remember how you made them feel. Chris Rock and Will Smith will have to live with how they made Jada feel, at that moment, for the rest of their lives. How do you make others feel? How do others make you feel?