Now that Chris Rock has finally let loose about getting slapped at the Oscars last year, the reviews are settling in. Most take note of how Rock not only went after Will Smith in his live-streamed Netflix special, but his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. That hasn't sat well with all. Some samples:
- Bad pattern? One of the more scathing takes comes from Candace McDuffie at the Root, a review with the headline, "Chris Rock Still Deserved to Be Slapped by Will Smith." McDuffie writes that by repeatedly going after Jada, Rock was true to form. "All we have to say is we told Y’all Chris has a problem with Black women." The piece runs through past examples over the years.
- Sounding old: At USA Today, Kelly Lawler wasn't impressed, either. "If he is going to joke about Jada Pinkett Smith and extensively address the Oscars slap, the punchline has to be better than calling her a gendered slur over and over again." In fact, the 58-year-old Rock came off as "predictable and boring," and downright old, throughout the entire set, she writes. "It was embarrassing to watch Rock complain about the kids with their wokeness and their social media and their feelings."
- Sounding fierce: Jason Zinoman at the New York Times writes that Rock's jokes on the Smith saga felt "emotional, messy and fierce." Rock "seemed more raw than usual, sloppier, cursing more often and less precisely. This was a side of him you hadn’t seen before. The way his fury became directed at Pinkett Smith makes you wonder if this was also a kind of displacement." The comedian traced his history with Jada, but it was one-sided. "Rock often establishes his arguments with the deftness and nuance of a skilled trial lawyer, but he’s not trying to give a fair, fleshed out version of events. He’s out for blood. There’s a coldness here that is bracing."
- A lesson: Dean Obeidallah at CNN came away impressed with Rock's revenge attack on the Smiths. "The lesson from the entire encounter is simple: Never slap a comedian, especially a famous one," he writes. "Unless of course, you want to be turned into a punchline for the whole world."
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