[imagesource: Christopher Polk / Variety]
People talk about celebrity figures being ‘cancelled’ as though it instantly means the end of their careers.
Just the other day, fans of Joe Rogan were screaming about cancel culture when he was under fire for spreading COVID-19 misinformation and a laundry list of racist comments.
Hey, look, he’s still chugging along just fine.
In some examples, cancel culture does spell the end of a person’s career. You won’t see people rushing to work with Bill Cosby. Is that cancel culture, or is it somebody being held accountable for their heinous actions?
Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars is obviously in the very minor leagues compared to the above, but questions are being asked regarding whether he will struggle to find work in Tinseltown.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the general consensus is that The Slap will be “a minor road bump” in his career:
“He’s not kryptonite yet,” says one studio executive. “He has to sit in the penalty box for a bit. He’s going to do some interview with someone like Gayle King and it will kind of wash away.”
Smith’s long history in the business will help, this person continues: “He has never been violent on set. He has been extra accommodating. And you read about what he did on the King Richard set.”
He was said to have been very generous to the cast, including using his own money to give bonuses to various co-stars.
That flattie also proved to be good for Chris Rock’s stand-up tour ticket sales as an unintentional aside.
Another longtime studio exec and industry veteran said Smith will now come with excess baggage:
…anyone casting Smith in a movie or series would have to weigh the challenge of trying to promote a project knowing that reporters inevitably would ask Smith and fellow castmembers about the incident.
“I think [studios] would think twice — do they need the aggravation?” he says. “Everyone would do the equation. ‘I’ve got Will Smith but now I’ve got this baggage and they’re going to re-show the slap. Do I need that, and is so-and-so available?’ The other side is, ‘I’ve got Will Smith and he needs a comeback and I’ll restore his luster.’”
Get that balance right and you could score big at the box office but you’ll be swimming in choppy waters.
Those with a lower appetite for risk may steer clear for a while. A marketing executive says she expects some long-term damage:
She feels that he revealed a dark side and that the whole sequence of events — the slap, the self-justifying acceptance speech, the dancing at the Vanity Fair party and an apology on Instagram that struck her as shallow and disingenuous — will inflict lasting damage.
She also thinks Smith’s long career has left him overexposed. Some of his more recent projects, including 2019’s Gemini Man and Collateral Beauty in 2016, have been poorly reviewed and underperformed, she points out.
The guy is worth around $350 million. He can afford a few duds.
There’s also zero chance they take away his Oscar. Hundreds of millions of dollars and the statue – what more do you need?
That being said, he’s definitely all but ended his chance of winning a second Oscar with multiple Academy voters stating publicly and anonymously that they would not cast a ballot in his favour again.
Before we find out if he’s due to appear in anything new, there are a few projects to tick off:
Smith now has Apple+’s slave escape drama Emancipation in postproduction. The streamer had planned a 2022 debut but has not dated its release. Apple declined to comment.
Otherwise, Smith has a few projects in preproduction, including Bad Boys 4, but no start dates are set.
One studio executive wonders whether Smith will be eager to work in front of the camera again now that he has an Oscar, or whether he will focus on producing.
Being expelled from the Academy could actually work in his favour. The industry and public would see that he’s been punished, he could take it on the chin and accept it, and in time everyone may move on.
You may recall that in 2017, Casey Affleck won the best actor Oscar, for Manchester By the Sea, during a period when allegations of earlier sexual harassment had resurfaced.
He denied and continues to deny the allegations. His career has flatlined, although he was not yet as established as Smith’s decades-long career makes him.
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