Remember when you were in school and some kid would get suspended for a week, and part of you wished that you could get "punished" with a forced vacation?
That’s probably how a lot of people in Hollywood are feeling today, following the news that Will Smith won’t be allowed to attend the Oscars for the next 10 years.
Yes, it’s Hollywood’s biggest night, but it’s also Hollywood’s most boring night, and the Fresh Prince has an excuse to skip the festivities for the next decade as part of his punishment for slapping Chris Rock at this year’s ceremony.
That’s per the decision announced today by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, which issued the following press release moments ago:
"The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards," the statement reads in part.
The statement was credited to Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
Insiders tell CNN that the decision was reached at today’s Board of Governors meeting following "tons of debate" on the issue.
"I accept and respect the Academy’s decision," Smith said in a tersely worded statement issued just after the Academy’s announcement.
Normally, as the recipient of this year’s Best Actor award, Will would have a guaranteed invite to next year’s Oscars.
In fact, he would probably be asked to take the stage again, this time as a presenter.
Clearly, the Academy won’t be upholding that tradition at the 2023 ceremony.
But hey, Will is poised to make a hell of a comeback in 2032 (assuming, of course, that Los Angeles hasn’t already been completely submerged by rising sea levels)!
The statement from the Academy goes on to excoriate Smith for overshadowing the night’s other honorees:
"The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage," the press release reads.
The statement also addresses criticism that Smith should have been removed from the venue following his assault on Rock.
"During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room," the statement reads.
"For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented."
Obviously, the debate over whether Smith’s actions, the Academy’s response, and the manner in which the situation was handled in its immediate aftermath will continue to rage, probably for years to come.
Already, today’s decision has drawn a mixed response on Twitter, with some complaining that the Academy has responded too harshly, and others expressing their belief that the organization should have banned Smith for life.
And of course, the jokes and memes began pouring in within seconds of today’s announcement.
There’s no punishment that could have appeased everyone, and this situation will likely remain one of the most divisive pop culture issues of all time.
But for better or worse, the Academy took action today — and it remains to be seen what sort of effect this decision will have on Smith’s career and reputation.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.