'Academy members says Will Smith's 'toothless penalty' isn't enough and that he should send back his Oscar'

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By Carina Murphy

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Veteran actor and Academy member Harry Lennix has slammed Will Smith's 10-year Oscar ban as a "toothless penalty".

The 57-year-old - who has been a steady presence on screen since the 1980s, with roles in Billions, The Blacklist, Justice League, and The Matrix Reloaded - blasted Smith and the Academy's forfeit in a cutting op-ed for Variety.

As well as dismissing Smith's 10-year ban as "an extended time out for a playground bully", Lennix wrote that he should immediately return his Best Actor award as punishment for slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards last month.

Smith's violent outburst came after Rock poked fun at his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suggesting she could appear in the next G.I. Jane movie because of her closely shaved head. Pinkett Smith - who suffers from alopecia - did not take kindly to the gag, and could be seen rolling her eyes in the audience.

Moments later her husband marched on stage and hit Rock across the face.

As the comedian tried to laugh off what had happened, Smith continued to verbally abuse him from his seat, yelling: "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth!"

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Despite his aggressive behavior - which was broadcast live around the world - Smith was allowed to remain at the ceremony and accepted an Academy Award for his role in Kind Richard less than half an hour later.

Since the scandalous moment, Smith has resigned from the Academy, which later issued its own penalty in the form of a 10-year-ban for the actor.

However, the punishment was too little too late for Lennix, who slammed it as "a toothless penalty that lays bare the shallowness of Hollywood morals."

"At this point, the only person who can redeem the integrity of the Oscars is Smith himself," Lennix continued, adding: "He needs to come to grips with the gravity of the offense he committed" and "to express-mail his golden trophy back to the Academy."

The actor went on to criticize the academy for not ejecting Smith from the ceremony and described his Best Actor acceptance speech - in which he spoke about "submitting to the will of God" - as an attempt to "[abdicate] personal accountability."

Academy
[[imagecaption|| Credit: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy]]

"Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige. That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes," Lennix wrote, adding that the slap "created an existential crisis for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences."

The actor concluded his op-ed by reiterating that Smith needs to do more if he is to rectify his mistake, saying: "The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remediated. The only hope for a justifiable grace must involve Smith voluntarily returning his award for best actor."

Featured Image Credit: Sipa US / Alamy

'Academy members says Will Smith's 'toothless penalty' isn't enough and that he should send back his Oscar'

vt-author-image

By Carina Murphy

Article saved!Article saved!

Veteran actor and Academy member Harry Lennix has slammed Will Smith's 10-year Oscar ban as a "toothless penalty".

The 57-year-old - who has been a steady presence on screen since the 1980s, with roles in Billions, The Blacklist, Justice League, and The Matrix Reloaded - blasted Smith and the Academy's forfeit in a cutting op-ed for Variety.

As well as dismissing Smith's 10-year ban as "an extended time out for a playground bully", Lennix wrote that he should immediately return his Best Actor award as punishment for slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards last month.

Smith's violent outburst came after Rock poked fun at his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suggesting she could appear in the next G.I. Jane movie because of her closely shaved head. Pinkett Smith - who suffers from alopecia - did not take kindly to the gag, and could be seen rolling her eyes in the audience.

Moments later her husband marched on stage and hit Rock across the face.

As the comedian tried to laugh off what had happened, Smith continued to verbally abuse him from his seat, yelling: "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth!"

[[twitterwidget||https://twitter.com/Variety/status/1508271453656870916]]

Despite his aggressive behavior - which was broadcast live around the world - Smith was allowed to remain at the ceremony and accepted an Academy Award for his role in Kind Richard less than half an hour later.

Since the scandalous moment, Smith has resigned from the Academy, which later issued its own penalty in the form of a 10-year-ban for the actor.

However, the punishment was too little too late for Lennix, who slammed it as "a toothless penalty that lays bare the shallowness of Hollywood morals."

"At this point, the only person who can redeem the integrity of the Oscars is Smith himself," Lennix continued, adding: "He needs to come to grips with the gravity of the offense he committed" and "to express-mail his golden trophy back to the Academy."

The actor went on to criticize the academy for not ejecting Smith from the ceremony and described his Best Actor acceptance speech - in which he spoke about "submitting to the will of God" - as an attempt to "[abdicate] personal accountability."

Academy
[[imagecaption|| Credit: WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy]]

"Smith’s brutality stripped the entire evening of its prestige. That was proven when stunned Oscar attendees gave a standing ovation to someone who’d just committed an assault in front of their eyes," Lennix wrote, adding that the slap "created an existential crisis for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences."

The actor concluded his op-ed by reiterating that Smith needs to do more if he is to rectify his mistake, saying: "The stain on the Motion Picture Academy cannot be easily remediated. The only hope for a justifiable grace must involve Smith voluntarily returning his award for best actor."

Featured Image Credit: Sipa US / Alamy