The internet is a mess, especially after something big happens that pierces the air of the times online and bleeds it dry. Right now it’s the fact that new Oscar winner Will Smith seems slap Two-time Oscar host Chris Rock on a bad ‘joke’ about Jada Pinkett Smith at last night’s 2022 Oscars. And while millions of people rushed to post their feelings about something that had nothing to do with them, people who aren’t the Will Smith or the Chris Rock – but still sharing their legal names – was caught in the social media crossfire.
“Small,” tweeted Will Smith, video game publicist and former editor of Maximum PC, Sunday night at 10:35 p.m. ET, shortly after the Oscars incident was broadcast live around the world. The game developer continued with “Oh shit” after Smith was named best actor for his role in the film last year King Richard.
Following the slap, which was allegedly inflicted in defense of Pinkett Smith’s public battle with an autoimmune disease that can lead to hair loss, many attempted to tag the Will Smith on Twitter to shout about what happened. But at some point the Fresh Prince actor had his account locked, so they got another Smith instead, @willsmith. This is apparently what happened to famous ESPN sports commentator Stephen A. Smith who castigated the actor for the incident, but in doing so, he sent a viral storm Smith’s way.
“Real talk, I’m not the person you’re upset/happy with,” another Smith tweeted later. “I do podcasts and video games for a living.” Smith currently does communications for Stray Bombay which newly released cooperative shooter Anacrusis Early Access on Xbox. “At the risk of pissing people off at me instead of this other guy, the world would be a better place if we stopped responding to words with violence.” Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some people have tried to play around with the latest case of mistaken identity on the internet. “I think you two should kiss each other,” one person wrote to Smith, jokingly tagging @chris_rock who also happens to be a veteran game developer. “Learn to accept a joke…I mean your wife did!” game developer Chris Rock responded.
Meanwhile, the comments under the exchange were filled with accounts genuinely trying to weigh in on one side or the other of the fight. “[S]Sorry but he has to personally apologize JADA not you, she’s an independent woman,” one person replied. “Why this violence? Nobody wants to see that!?!” writes another.
Other non-Will Smith accounts were also bombarded. “It’s obviously at a high point rn,” said good blacksmith, a drone music trio with just a few thousand followers. “I would say it’s actually a mixed bag – some people saying ‘it was despicable and you should be ashamed’ and others saying ‘thank you for standing up for your family. chris rock got what he deserved. ‘” Based on screenshots shared with Kotakuone person had DM Good Willsmith endorsed the film’s “Welcome to Earth” music video Independence Day, where Will Smith punches an alien in the face.
It is in no way a new phenomenon. The very nature of how social media is structured means that the controversy of the moment has a way of spilling out and engulfing passers-by. Someone does a thing. People are outraged. They are trying to send a message overseas directly. A random person will sometimes blow up the internet on their doorstep like the Kool-Aid Man, except instead of saying “OHHH YEAAAH!” he yells things like “You’re a disgrace!”
“Sharing the name with a famous person is always interesting,” said Chris Rock, the game’s developer. Kotaku. “In my case, it usually ends in disappointment for the person expecting comedian Chris Rock rather than a game developer. @willsmith was much more affected than me, although we were combined fairly quickly on tweets I think we kept it humorous, but as a platform for people to say what they think, they certainly did.