Will Smith has resigned from the Academy: I betrayed the trust of the Academy

The Academy – AMPAS – has already lied, misrepresented and failed to get their story straight about Will Smith and his on-stage slap of Chris Rock. The only thing that’s clear is that the Academy (meaning, the Board of Governors and the higher-ups) has been prepared this whole time to punish Will Smith and take a very un-nuanced view of what happened. If I was in Will’s place, I would probably have just let my two apologies (the one on stage at the Oscars and his IG apology the next day) do all the talking and just sit back and watch everything play out. But the thing is, Will Smith is genuinely remorseful and genuinely sorry. Which means he decided to give up his Academy membership before they could take it away from him:

In the wake of slapping Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars, Will Smith said Friday that he is resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Smith said he was heartbroken and would accept all consequences for his conduct during Sunday’s ceremony.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” Smith said. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.”

Earlier this week, the Academy began disciplinary proceedings against Smith after a meeting of its board of governors, and issued a statement saying Smith was asked to leave the show following the slap but that he refused. The statement didn’t provide details, but acknowledged that the Academy “could have handled the situation differently.” One board member told THR that it still wasn’t made clear who asked Smith to leave, or the sequence of events, while two other sources said there was never a request made directly to the actor.

Smith’s resignation means he can no longer vote for the Oscars — but he can still be nominated for Academy Awards, attend future ceremonies and keep the statue he won. Still, the Academy’s formal review will continue.

“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” Academy president David Rubin said in a statement. “We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”

[From THR]

Again, I would handle it differently in his shoes, but I understand why he’s doing this and why he’s falling on his sword so thoroughly. Beyond his actual remorse, he wants to demonstrate his remorse publicly and save the Academy the trouble of doing taking away his membership, in a sort of “you can’t fire me, I quit” way. I wonder if there’s a slight calculation being made here too, which is that if the Academy really pursues any further punitive measures, they’ll look like they’re overreacting or biased.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Instar.

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