Rock said of Will Smith Saturday night during his live standup special for Netflix, Selective Outrage, that his wife had f—ed her son’s friend. “She hurt him way more than he hurt me,” Rock said of Jada Pinkett Smith.
The last eight minutes or so of the special focused on Rock’s reaction to Smith slapping him onstage at last year’s Oscars ceremony, with the comedian exuding a deluge of expletives and bile, claiming Smith’s assault was the actor’s reaction to all the criticism he had taken for accepting his wife’s very public affair.
“He called his wife a predator,” Rock said of Smith, who is physically larger than he is. “And who’s he hit? Me! A n—- he knows he can beat.”
The Smiths were the focus of Rock’s outrage
The quips came in a flurry, as Rock finally told his side of the story, accusing Smith of practicing selective outrage by getting mad at him instead of the wife who cuckolded him. The comic was so excited he messed up one joke, claiming that Jada wanted him to quit hosting the Oscars because Will wasn’t nominated for Emancipation (Concussion, the movie that prompted #OscarsSoWhite).
He accused Smith of “selective outrage” by getting mad at him instead of the wife who cuckolded him, as Rock finally told his side of the story.
He apologized publicly several times before Saturday night for slapping Rock and admitted the comic had not responded to his attempts to reach out, attempting to climb out of the public relations hole he dug for himself. Because Rock did not discuss the incident publicly — so the guy who was slapped wasn’t able to share his perspective — Smith may have been able to rebuild his image somewhat.
Although Rock had been slapped live on international television by a much larger man, he said he wasn’t a victim, which implied some shame in that designation, while connecting to a rant he had delivered earlier in the night which suggested too many people seek attention by falsely claiming victimhood to get attention. “I’m not a victim, baby…you won’t see me on Oprah or Gayle crying,” he said. “I took that hit like [champion boxer Manny Pacquiao.”
Though Rock was not crying, his anger at the incident was fresh as if it had happened just yesterday. “People are asking me ‘Did it hurt?'” Rock said, incredulously. “It still hurts.” He concluded by saying that he didn’t fight back against Smith because his parents taught him: “Don’t fight in front of white people!”
Because Rock is a comedy professional, a lot of the special was entertaining and some of it was poignant, including his reflections on having a mother who grew up in segregation and is now able to visit her granddaughter studying at culinary school in France. I also liked his observation that the January 6, riots were “white men trying to overthrow the government that they (already) run.”
The show’s promotion by Netflix may have hindered its success, as the pre and post-concert specials felt forced. Ronny Chieng, David Spade, and Dana Carvey hosted these specials which contained numerous celebrity appearances including Bono performing Jailhouse Rock before Rock’s show. Other celebrities such as Rosie Perez, Matthew McConaughey, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were also included in what seemed to be a disingenuous display of flattery that Rock himself would likely mock if he had been present for it.
The Saturday night special was sad proof that a brash young comic who is trying to make his mark and a seasoned pro who knows how to work the room, even when he might not have as much to say, had a far cry from his groundbreaking HBO standup specials, which redefined his career and the world of comedy at the same time.