Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head has, according to Intelligencer’s extensive research, produced 82 distinct varieties of Slap take. Many purveyors of Slap opinions were just trying to shoehorn their pet causes into the discussion (see: The Slap was staged by Big Pharma), while others just wanted to have a little fun. A lot of people were determined to lecture us about which topics should or should not be off limits to comedians, whether people need to learn to take a joke, and how actually violence is never the answer.
Even if you generally agree that certain jokes kind of cross the line and physical assault is bad, the moralizing was a bit much. And, apparently, it was also largely pointless: Less than two weeks later, a new celebrity feud shows we’ve learned little from our nationwide discourse on comedy and violence.
The Slap-related conflict between late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is ridiculous at every level. It started with Greene tweeting that the three GOP senators who plan to vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court are “pro-pedophile,” the Republican smear du jour. This is clearly nuts and good joke fodder, but the best Kimmel could come up with was calling her a “Klan mom” and asking, “Wow, where is Will Smith when you really need him?”
Is it a great idea to joke about physically assaulting elected officials — or really anyone? No. But is Kimmel actually suggesting that someone should go slap MTG? Clearly not.
Nevertheless, Greene says she filed a report with the Capitol Police over Kimmel’s joke. “Last night, Jimmy Kimmel called for violence to be committed against Congresswoman Greene. It will not be tolerated,” a spokesperson for Greene’s office told Insider, adding that the office takes “all threats of violence towards the congresswoman very seriously.”
While lawmakers’ safety concerns should be taken seriously, Greene reporting Kimmel to the Capitol Police is, indeed, rich for two reasons. First: She’s repeatedly downplayed the Capitol Riot; she voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to officers who defended the Capitol that day; and she recently referred to the force as Nancy Pelosi’s “gazpacho police” (presumably a botched attempt to call them Nazis).
Second: Violent rhetoric, imagery, and threats are key to the MTG brand. Greene has, among other things, followed and taunted Parkland high-school-shooting survivor David Hogg, repeatedly suggested she would support executing various Democratic leaders, and tweeted out a picture of herself holding a gun next to several progressive House members with the caption “Squad’s worst nightmare.”
But, hey, maybe I’m wrong! Perhaps MTG got so worked up about Kimmel’s “threat” because she took in the Slap discourse and realized that she shouldn’t have to tolerate disrespectful jokes and that normalizing violence is not acceptable even when no one is seriously injured.
Or, you know, maybe not.