Three in five Americans say Will Smith was wrong to hit Chris Rock

Linley SandersData Journalist
March 28, 2022, 9:13 PM GMT+0

At the Academy Awards on Sunday, actor Will Smith walked on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a hair-loss condition called alopecia. Referencing Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, Rock said that he “can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2,” a reference to Demi Moore’s buzz cut in the 1997 film G.I. Jane. After walking on stage and slapping Rock, Smith returned to his seat. He later accepted an Oscar for Best Actor.

A YouGov Direct poll conducted on March 28 indicates that while most Americans did not watch the 2022 Academy Awards the night before, a majority now say they’ve heard a lot (56%) or a little (33%) about Smith hitting Rock. Around three in five Americans (61%) say Smith's actions were wrong, while 21% say they were right. Older Americans are more likely than younger adults to say that Smith’s response was wrong.

On Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement condemning Smith’s actions and announcing that there would be an inquiry about “further actions and consequences.” YouGov data indicates that seven in 10 Americans (70%) say that Smith should be allowed to keep the Oscar he won at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Other key takeaways from YouGov polling today on this topic:

  • Most Americans (59%) say it is not ever OK to hit someone for something they said
  • About three in five adults (61%) say Will Smith’s actions were not acceptable
  • By 50% to 19%, U.S. adults say that Will Smith hitting Chris Rock was not staged
  • By 39% to 34%, people disapprove of the Academy Awards allowing Will Smith to remain at the show after having hit Chris Rock

See the YouGov Direct toplines for this survey

YouGov Direct Methodology: The YouGov survey was conducted among 1,319 U.S. adults interviewed on March 28, 2022. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted on age, gender, education level, and ethnicity to be nationally representative of U.S. adults in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty