“Summer of Soul’s” Joseph Patel has a few things to say.
Over the weekend, Will Smith walked onstage during this year’s Oscars and proceeded to slap Chris Rock, who made an unsavory joke about Smith’s wife Jada mere moments prior. Since then, social media has been filled with people’s reactions and feedback from people who were at the event and those watching from home or elsewhere.
The slap happened while Chris Rock was presenting an Oscar to acclaimed drummer and filmmaker Questlove for the Best Documentary award for “Summer of Soul.” Now that the dust has settled, Joseph Patel, a key producer on the riveting Oscar-winning documentary, took a moment to share his grievances on social media about what went down during what was supposed to be a fully positive moment.
“I think what Will did was selfish,” wrote Patel on Twitter, in a now deleted thread. “It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs. And it robbed ‘Summer Of Soul’ and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film.”
He also expressed his frustrations with Chris Rock for the presentation itself of the category, in which Rock introduced Patel (a producer of South Asian descent) and the producers other than Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson as a group of “four white guys.”
“The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award,” Joseph Patel wrote in his Twitter thread. He made sure to acknowledge those who paved the way as well. “I was ecstatic that I was the 3RD South Asian to win that night – after Riz [Ahmed] and Aneil Karia won earlier in the night for [best live action short winner] ‘The Long Goodbye.’ Three South Asians winning on the same night – that’s never happened before! And it’s meaningful! It’s history!”
Patel also addressed how, although it’s supposed to just be a joke, he still didn’t approve. “I’m a big boy – I can take a joke. Comedians make jokes. But not in that moment. What a shitty, disrespectful thing to do.”
Patel continued and shared his thoughts about his team: “I feel bad for Ahmir [Thompson, aka Questlove]. I feel bad for my fellow producers. I feel bad for our whole team. I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us. We were in shock walking to the stage-not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened.”
Since then, Patel deleted his tweets because he feels the conversation it started to “reach the unproductive portion of the viral thread,” but he feels “at peace with” the words he expressed using his platform.