Bill Maher is being condemned for his comments on Jada Pinkett Smith in the wake of the Oscars slap controversy.
At the 2022 ceremony on Sunday (27 March), Will Smith walked onto the stage and hit Chris Rock after he made a joke about Pinkett Smith, whom he is married to.
Rock had referred to Pinkett Smith as “GI Jane” in a reference to her shaved head. After the incident, it was highlighted that the The Matrix Reloaded and Girl’s Trip actor has alopecia, and spoke publicly about her diagnosis in 2018.
While Rock addressed the incident at a stand-up show on Wednesday (30 March), saying he was “still processing what happened”, he did not reveal whether he knew about the diagnosis or not. A source close to the friend claimed the comedian “had no idea.”
Smith’s actions have led to criticism from many of his Hollywood peers, despite the actor receiving a standing ovation from the Oscars crowd within the hour after the altercation occurred. He won Best Actor for king richardand delivered a tearful speech in which he apologized to the Academy.
On Friday (1 April), TV host Maher downplayed Pinkett Smith’s alopecia diagnosis on the latest episode if Real Time with Bill Mahertelling the actor to “just put on af***ing wig”.
“I mean, alopecia, it’s not leukemia, OK?” Maher said at the start of the show, adding: “Alopecia is when your hair falls out – there are worst things.”
He returned to the subject later in the episode, stating: “If you are so lucky in life as to have that be your medical problem, just say ‘Thanks God.’ It’s not life threatening. It’s part of – for most people, 80 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women – it’s part of aging.”
Maher continued: “Ageing is – trust me I know – it’s the degradation of the flesh. It happens to all of us. And you know, just put on af***ing wig like everybody else at the Oscars if it bothers you so much.”
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The TV host has been heavily criticized for his comments, which have been branded “hateful”.
One person tweeted: “If you’ve had alopecia (which I did), you know it can be very painful, both physically and emotionally. I wish Mr Maher & others downplaying it would be a little more understanding.”
“He’s getting worse by the day,” another tweeted. Many also questioned why Maher was placing the fault on Pinkett Smith when it was her husband who hit Rock. At one stage, he suggests Smith hit Rock because he believed his wife wanted him to do so, and blamed “toxic femininity” for the incident.
Footage of the incident, filmed from the crowd, shows Pinkett Smith remaining fixed in position as Smith hits the comedian.
Despite receiving major criticism, Maher’s views have also been supported by a contingent of people, who are defending the host on Twitter.
Smith has since resigned from the Academy, saying he is “heartbroken” in a new statement. He faces disciplinary action, which will be decided by board members, including Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Laura Dern.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.