Monday, March 28, 2022
We don't talk about....
I don’t know about you, but the Academy Awards ceremony last night left me rattled. I have a lot of opinions, feelings, and questions about what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock, and it is honestly just too soon to put any of them in a public space, because there is a lot I do not (and probably will never) know about it. And even if I magically had all the information, I am not sure that I should have a platform to express my conclusions or that my conclusions are remotely relevant. All I know is what I saw (and then heard, thanks to Australian TV not censoring anything) and that is clearly not enough to fully discuss it.
I remember this past fall using Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust as a hypo in class for at least a few weeks since it was a classic tort question-we even have a very similar, but entirely made up, question that we frequently use for student practice. In that tragedy, someone died, and I had no problem exploiting the tragic event for education. I know I am not alone in this, but saying it out loud now makes me cringe. Last night Chris Rock probably suffered no more than a stinging cheek and moment of shocked fear -- and yet I cannot see anything educational enough in the scenario to justify using it in class. I know my undergraduates will have questions tomorrow (my 17-year-old son certainly had them last night) and I can tell you right now that I am going to punt. I am going to say that I don’t know much about California law-which is currently true, and I will not research it to know more anytime soon. I will say that I do not condone violence. I will add that I hope these men can work it out and that Chris Rock has chosen to not file a report. And that’s it. I won't pretend it didn't happen or gloss over it, but I won't engage with it either. This is a situation with far too much nuance and emotion to be looked at only as a question of law and I cannot, therefore, look at it as only a law professor.
Now if they want to talk about how I liked Jessica Chastain’s dress more and more throughout the night, I will happily go there. It really grew on me.