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The Will Smith Legal Fallout

Photo by David McNew/Getty
Eriq Gardner
March 29, 2022

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock was the moment, but let’s talk about the 20 seconds immediately afterwards, because what happened during this stretch is independently significant and deserves to be discussed and remembered, too. I’m talking about one of the longest purposeful audio interruptions in television history. Or at least, American television history.

After Smith hit Rock, the comedian amazingly composed himself (fortunately there was no injury or this story might include the possibility of criminal charges—more on that later) and said, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” The camera flashed to Smith, who yelled out—twice—“Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”