Academy member says Will Smith must atone for 'brutality,' return Oscar award

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A member of the Motion Picture Academy said Will Smith must “voluntarily” return his award for best actor to atone for slapping Chris Rock at the award ceremony last month 

“The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remediated. The only hope for a justifiable grace must involve Smith voluntarily returning his award for best actor,” actor Harry Lennix 57, wrote in a Variety op-ed Saturday. 

Actor Harry Lennix attends the International Emmy Awards in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

Actor Harry Lennix attends the International Emmy Awards in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
(Reuters)

WILL SMITH NOT PERMITTED TO ATTEND OSCARS FOR 10 YEARS

“Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige,” he added “That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes.”

Smith walked onto the stage at the 94th Oscars last month and slapped Rock on the face after he made a joke about a sequel to “G.I Jane” and his wife’s, Jada Pinkett Smith, bald head. 

Smith was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor for his leading role in “King Richard” later that night, where he delivered an emotional acceptance speech. 

“I wanna apologize to the Academy. I wanna apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine light on all of the people.”

Smith resigned from the Academy and was later banned from attending Oscar award ceremonies for a decade. 

Lennix argued the slap “will gnaw away at our national conscience” unless Smith returns his Academy Award, adding that the ban on him attending future Oscars is a “toothless penalty” comparable to an “extended time out for a playground bully.”

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

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