A CNN analyst suggested that the reaction of the Academy Awards audience to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock onstage is a "psychological case study on how Trump got normalized."
What are the details?
The analyst in question is Asha Rangappa, whose Twitter profile indicates she also is a former FBI special agent, a Yale faculty member, and a lawyer.
Here's what Rangappa tweeted Sunday night regarding the slap's aftermath:
"So did like anyone walk out after that happened???" she wondered. "Or are we getting an independent psychological case study on how [former President Donald] Trump got normalized?"
Rangappa — who reportedly bullied and doxxed a 22-year-old female Washington Free Beacon intern in 2020 and called her a "Karen" after Twitter ordered Rangappa to take down the offending post — on Monday morning mocked the notion that she was comparing Smith to Trump.
"The MAGA hate emails have begun, which tells me that the below tweet has made its way to the Breitbart ecosystem," she tweeted. "The sad part is that they are so stupid they don't realize I'm not comparing Smith to Trump, I'm comparing the audience to them."
Rangappa added that she "found the trigger" in the form of Fox News' story on her tweet: "Seriously, like clockwork — as soon as Fox News, etc. publishes something, I get unhinged, racist, threatening emails flooding my inbox."
She wasn't the only individual to equate the incident and its aftermath to Trump and other sociopolitical forces:
- Shock jock Howard Stern said on his Monday show that "this is how Trump gets away with s**t. Will Smith and Trump are the same guy."
- Strategist Steve Schmidt — emphasizing the "power of group psychology" — asked, "Do you want to know how Trump happened? Watch the Oscars and the crowd reaction. The pull to belong is very powerful. Pull to conform to what is happening around you is a powerful tide. Applause for assault in a tuxedo in California is the same as applause for assault while wearing a red hat in Alabama. That was a crime. There was no virtue attached to it. None whatsoever."
- CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez tweeted, "Slapping someone is a crime. That's what Mr. Smith did — on live TV, in public, while being seen across the globe. That the American audience game him a standing ovation after that says a lot about us, our culture ... and how Trumpism came to prominence in this country!"
- Another Twitter user said, "If you're curious why Germans allowed Hitler to happen, or Americans allowed George W. Bush to lead us into Iraq, or why Russians are allowing Putin to murder Ukrainians....look at how the Oscar crowd and his supporters handled Will Smith tonight."
Not everybody saw things quite that way, however.
Brandon Straka — creator of the anti-Democrat "Walk Away" campaign that made headlines during the 2020 election — tweeted that Smith "just unapologetically normalized violence at the Oscars & the left-wing Hollywood audience continued to clap and cheer for him & then hand him a trophy. Apparently if you can’t take a joke it’s not only acceptable to cancel someone — you can charge a stage & hit them."
Smith slapped Rock after the comedian joked about the lack of hair on Jada Pinkett Smith's head. Pinkett Smith, Will Smith's wife, revealed in 2018 her diagnosis of alopecia, an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss, NBC News reported.
After Smith slapped Rock, Smith turned around and walked back to his seat, sat down, and twice hollered at Rock, "Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!"
Content warning: Profanity:
Minutes later, Smith received a best actor Oscar for "King Richard," in which he portrays Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.
Smith got a standing ovation as he took the stage, after which he said as part of his acceptance speech that "Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family." Smith also invoked God and said he's being called "to love people, and to protect people, and to be a river to my people."
The actor also issued an apology — but not to Rock.
"I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees," Smith said, adding that "art imitates life ... I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things. ... Thank you, I hope the Academy invites me back."