I wouldn’t have known Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars had it not been reported by the Washington Post and the New York Times. PBS Newshour also showed a clip, with commentary. I usually only watch TV on Sunday nights when the Pope gives the go ahead. Fortunately, this Pope is a big fan of John Oliver.
There’s so much that’s silly about the Oscars. I get the value of honoring people like makeup artists and cinematographers — people whose names you probably didn’t read in the closing credits — because you were in a hurry to get home to have a cold beer and eat anything except more popcorn. But awards for the films themselves? Awards for leading actors? They are generally well paid and get tons of recognition without having to do anything else.
The United States is a bad place to try to get people to engage in a deep conversation about violence. But I’ll give my unsolicited opinion anyway. What Will Smith should have done was march up onto the stage and commence to reel off every “You’re so ugly” joke he could remember. Then, he could start to make up new ones once the adrenaline kicked in. “You’re so ugly” jokes are way classier than open-handed slaps to the face.
Slapping a face is artless.
Also, it’s easier to lighten up on a verbal insult after the fact. You can say, “I’m very sorry. I never meant to say you are a stain on humanity’s backside. I meant to say you are a stain on a country road. You look like roadkill.”
See? You can water insults down like that. A slap remains a slap, always. You can’t ease up on it after it’s executed.
How would our lives be today had Will Smith slapped the aliens in “Independence Day” in their faces, instead of slipping them an artfully designed computer virus? I’ll tell you: We’d all be listening to top 10 alien hits instead of what we’re listening to now, whatever that is.
If Americans would all reach for verbal insults rather than giving in to urges to slap people upside the head, we could become as civilized as, I don’t know, Scotland.
The most shocking headline this week was this one from the New York Post: “Extra crunchy: Skippy recalls 80 tons of peanut butter due to possible steel pieces inside.” Yikes.
I have great memories connected with Skippy peanut butter. The company had a plant in Seattle just down the hill from where I lived when I was 8 years old. My grandmother would only eat Skippy peanut butter because many of our neighbors worked at that plant. She taught me to eat Skippy peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon. My mother found out she was teaching that and told me to tell grandma she didn’t approve. I dutifully told grandma that, and grandma said, “Your mother is an idiot.”
What a great memory. That one sentence changed my life. I still eat peanut butter straight out of jars. But the Skippy plant is long gone, and I’m happy to be able to say I have switched brands by now.
Here’s another headline that caught my eye: “Colleges scramble to recruit students as nationwide enrollment plunges,” according to the Washington Post.
This is the kind of headline that makes me feel like an old dog. I lift my head up off the floor, shake, do a circle or two where I was lying and plop back down again, without even a “woof.”
If colleges want higher enrollments they can roll their tuition back. We live in a capitalist country, right? Everything is priced according to what the market will bear, right? Well the market isn’t bearing these prices, OK? Roll them back. If you can’t, some of you shut down, and that will winnow the competition.
The colleges aren’t the victims here. They can take responsibility for their own bad choices. In the meantime students, who are now the adults in the mix, are looking for better deals and finding them. Because colleges are no longer good deals for their prices.
Extra credit exercise for extra credit people. (You don’t have to be enrolled anywhere.)
Which is more violent, a slap to the face, or bagpipes? Explain your answer in a post-modern framework.
Read more of the Apr. 6-12, 2022 issue.