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Will Smith must give Oscar back to restore ‘national conscience’, says Harry Lenix

A Motion Picture Academy member called Will Smith’s 10-year Oscar ban a “toothless punishment” and said the actor should “voluntarily” return his award for best actor.

Veteran screen and stage actor Harry Lennix likened Smith’s punishment for hitting Chris Rock over a joke “an extended sabbatical for a playground bully” that “exposes the shallowness of Hollywood morality” to one crushing Variety op-ed Saturday.

Lennix, a prolific character actor best known for his role in The Five Heartbeats, said it was “annoying” for Smith that he was allowed to accept his King Richard Oscar and featured in his speech to obtain the “will of God” .

“Smith’s brutality tarnished the entire evening,” wrote Lennix, 57. “It was proven when stunned Oscar nominees gave a standing ovation to someone who had just committed an assault before their very eyes.”

Rock had made a bald joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia. Lennix had played a love interest of Smith’s character Niobe on The Matrix series.

Will Smith accepts the Actor in a Leading Role Award for
Will Smith accepts the award for Actor in a Leading Role during the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood.
Getty Images

“In one deft stroke, Will Smith created an existential crisis for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,” Lennix said. “The incident was such a shock to societal norms that it will gnaw at our national conscience until somehow properly atoned for.”

Smith resigned from the academy before banning the actor for decades, but Lennix said the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

“The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily removed. The only hope of reasonable clemency must be that Smith voluntarily returns his Best Actor award.”

Will Smith punches Chris Rock during the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.
Will Smith punches Chris Rock during the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.
AFP via Getty Images

Smith apologized to Rock Online the day after the incident. Rock still had to talk at length about the attack and declined to press charges.

The academy is said to have been split up Forcing Smith to return his trophy. Some dissenters noted that honorees convicted of major crimes such as Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski were allowed to hold on to theirs, while others argued that the highly public nature of Smith’s attack necessitated the unprecedented overturning.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/10/will-smith-must-return-oscar-to-restore-national-conscience-says-harry-lenix/ Will Smith must give Oscar back to restore ‘national conscience’, says Harry Lenix

Dais Johnston

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