On Saturday (April 9), Variety published a guest column from you, Mr. Harry Lennix, where you wrote that Will Smith needed to return his Oscar, which he won at the 2022 Oscars for his role in King Richard, to “restore the award’s honor.” Quite frankly, I need to know how long you were sniffing the gold off Oscar awards backstage to say something this asinine.
The Academy has a long history of honoring people who have conducted some of the most gruesome, disgusting actions against women and children in society. Yet, Will should give back his award because he gave someone a slap for insulting his wife?
I could name every single person who’s done far worse than Will and who still have their awards, but I don’t have that much free time on my hands. So, I’ll just mention a small fraction of them instead – and this will still be a long enough list.
The first person who comes to mind is Roman Polanski. The sack of pedophilic shit fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to drugging and raping a child who was just 13 years old, and the Academy still gave him a Best Director award in 2003 for The Pianist. And he STILL has his trophy to this day. Is raping a little girl not a stain to the Academy? Or is this stain not big or noticeable enough? Does such a horrific act just require some Mr. Clean and to be forgotten?
It’s also worth noting that ever since Polanski received the award 19 years ago, other alleged victims have come forward claiming that he sexually assaulted them as kids, too.
Then you have other creeps like Harvey Weinstein who was convicted in 2020 for sexual assault and rape in NYC, and sentenced to 23 years in prison after over 80 women – including famous ones – spoke out about him sexually assaulting and harassing them over his decades-long career in entertainment. And he, too, still has possession of his Oscars.
So far, Mr. Lennix, I’m having a very hard time understanding how just these two monstrous men and their demonic deeds get a pass when being asked for their trophies back…
In your letter, you called Will a “playground bully” and said that his 10-year ban from all Academy events is “a toothless penalty that lays bare the shallowness of Hollywood morals.”
What type of morals has Hollywood ever had if it’s given rapists and pedophiles the honor of being bestowed Oscar award-winning stature and the privileges of holding their heads high because these trophies sit comfortably and in plain view on their homes’ tabletops?
We can also talk about Woody Allen, who’s had countless claims of sexual assault against him, as well as Casey Affleck. Even Kevin Spacey has been hit with accusations of sexually assaulting little boys for years.
You want to talk about the Academy’s “integrity,” but has it ever had any to begin with if these are the people it celebrates? For you to singlehandedly call out Will to return his award when he hasn’t done anything remotely close to the previously mentioned acts makes you sound biased, oblivious and, dare I say, ignorant.
Or maybe you believe that if honorees’ violent acts were conducted outside of the awards ceremony, they don’t count as a negative light on the Academy. If that’s the case, then explain Adrien Brody grabbing and forcing a kiss – which is sexual assault — on Halle Berry on live TV in 2003 when he went onstage to accept his award for The Pianist that she was presenting him.
Perhaps this wasn’t your intent — I sure hope it wasn’t — but the truth of the matter is that you calling out Will for slapping Chris Rock completely pushes the narrative that women and girls, and the heinous acts that are, unfortunately, committed to them, do not matter. You could’ve easily added that the aforementioned men should also give back their trophies to be fair. But, instead, you chose to neglect their more horrific actions for a case that involved a man hitting another man, which appeared to be much more severe and of higher importance to you.
“Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige,” you said. But I beg to differ. There are two definitions of prestige. One is “standing or estimation in the eyes of people: weight or credit in general opinion” and the other is “commanding position in people’s minds.” If you ask me, the Oscars still have this.
People who know that the Oscars has never shown respect or acknowledgment to the victims of its honorees’ sexual crimes understand that its commanding position is one of hypocrisy. The weight or credit in general opinion is given to the Oscars for always being a place with beautiful people in beautiful attire, but who are, internally, some of the ugliest beings who’ve ever walked the face of the earth.
You continued after talking about the event’s prestige being stripped, “That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes.” This sentence was a crock of shit.
It left me completely dumbfounded considering the fact that Polanski ALSO received a standing ovation at the 2003 Oscars – which he didn’t attend because he was too busy being a rapist turned fugitive in Europe – after he won his award. Many audience members in attendance at that ceremony even cheered him on. How dare you be so proudly sanctimonious without a shred of integrity?
Instead of Will, maybe you should be the one to leave the Academy, Mr. Lennix. Yes, the Fresh Prince lost his cool. But, he quickly took accountability for wrongfully slapping Chris and accepted his 10-year ban with dignity and maturity the following day. You, on the other hand, are visibly tendentious and are showing that you can’t reasonably give sound judgement on such important issues the Academy faces. Someone like this can’t be trusted to vote for the best interest of the entity.
Why are you bashing Will for something so minor in hindsight while turning a blind eye to the many sexual predatory criminals who continue to possess these “esteemed” Oscar awards – and will keep winning year after year? Who’s really the one with shallow morals here?
“The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remediated,” you added, while you have the audacity to know that the people who’ve won – and kept — awards and served on the same Academy voting board before and with you have been stains for so long that they now just subconsciously blend in with the bodily stains of the women and children who’ve been physically and sexually brutalized for years by your peers – and ignored.
Shame on you, Mr. Lennix. Hopefully what I said knocks some sense into you.