the slap

The Slap’s True Victims: 66 People Who Filed FCC Complaints

A cyclist passes by Slap graffiti mural sprayed on a wall at Mauerpark public park in Berlin, Germany, on April 1, 2022. Photo: Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In the aftermath of the Slap, Chris Rock appears to be holding up okay. In an interview that aired Friday on Good Morning America, Oscars producer Will Packer revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department offered to arrest Will Smith backstage during the show, but the comedian declined.

“They were saying, you know, ‘This is battery,’ was the word they use in that moment,” Packer said. “They said we will go get him; we are prepared. We’re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him. They were laying out the options, and as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no.’”

Rock also managed to perform a show in Boston Wednesday night, saying he’s “still kind of processing what happened” but “at some point I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”

As evidenced by the deluge of Slap takes, we’re all “still kind of processing what happened.” But it appears some of us are taking it worse than others: 66 people were so “traumatized,” “offended,” “triggered,” and “shaken” by seeing one famous guy slap another famous guy at the Oscars that they felt compelled to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

These anonymous complaints, which The Hill obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, almost unanimously denounced Smith for slapping Rock. Or, as one Illinois viewer described the incident, seeing Smith “assault that other poor man.”

“I haven’t been able to sleep as a result. My child was also scared. I had to take medicine to calm me down,” this viewer told the FCC. “I think the Oscars were not child-friendly and shouldn’t be allowed on TV if they are going to have violent assaults LIVE.”

Other members of the TV-viewing audience blamed the FCC for failing to anticipate that there would be a physical assault at the annual show for the first time in 93 years.

“This display was disgusting and beamed directly into our living room,” read a complaint from Connecticut. “I thought your agency was supposed to keep this type of violence and cursing off television. I hope you can bring sense and reason back to the public airways,” the viewer urged.

One viewer demanded that the Academy Awards be banned from U.S. airwaves altogether, while another merely said that Smith and ABC, the network that aired the show, “should be held accountable.”

“I was so offended and triggered to see Will Smith violently assault Chris Rock on a live family program like the Oscars,” wrote a Florida viewer. “This whole episode has me so shaken and ruined the Oscars and the very deserving winners due to your allowing this malicious activity on public airwaves.”

The viewer went on to say of the FCC, “You go after Janet Jackson when Justin Timberlake ripped off her clothes and basically assaulted her on live TV as well. And she was the victim in that case.”

This was a reference to the “nipplegate” affair at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that prompted the FCC to hit CBS and MTV with a $550,000 fine, which was eventually dismissed. That incident drew 540,000 FCC complaints; the number of Slap complaints was more on par with the last Super Bowl halftime show, which drew just 33. Though ABC attempted to censor the assault, the New York Post reports, “It’s unclear if the FCC will take action over the incident.”

Some complainants were less worried about fairness, and just want somebody to please think of the children.

“Will Smith physically assaulted Chris Rock onstage. This reprehensible act shocked my family and child, whom asked me innocently, ‘Why did he hit that man?’” one person wrote. “I hope Mr. Smith faces consequences for his actions as it demonstrates the wrong way to go about handling a disagreement.”

An Oscars viewer from Illinois added that, “witnessing a violent attack on live TV with my family is scary and dangerous.”

Look, I get it. I’ve never talked about this publicly, but I’m one of the millions of American children who were traumatized by Fox premiering Michael Jackson’s “Black and White” video immediately after The Simpsons on November 14, 1991. There I was, innocently watching Bart build a Soap Box Derby racer, when suddenly MJ started grabbing his crotch and vandalizing an abandoned vehicle. To this day I have nightmares about my car being viciously assaulted by a pop star who can inexplicably morph into a panther. My thoughts and prayers are with the FCC complaint filers at this difficult time.

The Slap’s True Victims: 66 People Who Filed FCC Complaints