Like many people on Oscar night, Kenny Rock watched what happened to his brother Chris Rock through a video posted on social media. Prior to viewing it, he thought maybe the scene of actor Will Smith slapping his brother was staged. But when he saw the video and heard Smith cursing, he knew it was real.
“It eats at me watching it over and over again because you’ve seen a loved one being attacked and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Kenny Rock told the Times in an interview. “Every time I’m watching the videos, it’s like a rendition that just keeps going over and over in my head. My brother was no threat to him and you just had no respect for him at that moment. You just belittled him in front of millions of people that watch the show.”
In the wake of the incident, Kenny Rock said he would like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to take disciplinary action against Smith, including taking away his lead actor Academy Award for his performance in “King Richard,” and bar him from attending future Oscars.
Smith has faced mounting scrutiny since the extraordinary March 27 confrontation during the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
After Rock made a joke comparing the hairstyle of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, to Demi Moore’s buzzcut in the 1997 movie “G.I. Jane,” Smith got out of his seat, walked onto the stage and slapped Rock in the face.
Some have called the joke insensitive because Pinkett Smith has talked about her struggles with hair loss caused by alopecia.
But Kenny Rock, an actor and entrepreneur, said he does not believe his brother knew that Pinkett Smith had alopecia.
“The joke was funny,” Kenny Rock said. “It wasn’t hilarious funny, but I know that if he knew that she had alopecia … he wouldn’t made a joke about that. But he didn’t know.”
Another person close to Rock who was not authorized to comment also said the comedian did not know that Pinkett Smith had alopecia prior to the slapping incident.
After slapping Rock, Smith stayed at the ceremony and accepted his lead actor Oscar less than an hour later. During his acceptance speech, Smith tearfully apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees for his actions, but not to Rock.
“I might have looked at it differently had he initially apologized when he got on the stage and cried and accepted the award, but he didn’t, so, right there that tells me that it is something else,” Kenny Rock said.
While Smith didn’t mention Rock on the Oscars stage, he did offer a public apology the following day in an Instagram statement. Days later, in a resignation letter to the academy, Smith publicly included Rock and his family as part of his apology.
Kenny Rock says he does not accept Smith’s apology and, to his knowledge, Smith has not personally reached out to him or his family.
“No, I don’t accept it because I don’t think it was genuine,” Kenny Rock said. “I think his publicist and the people that work under him probably advised him to do that.”
Smith’s publicist did not immediately return a request for comment.
The 42-year-old actor is one of Chris Rock’s six living siblings (half brother Charles passed away in 2006 according to E! News). Several of his siblings have rallied behind their brother, either by speaking out on what happened or through their reactions on social media. Last week, comedian Tony Rock also said on Twitter he did not accept Smith’s apology.
Kenny Rock said he first heard about the slapping incident as he was riding the A Train in Brooklyn. His friend was trying to reach him to ask him where he was and if he saw what happened, but the signal was not clear on the train.
Since then, he’s seen the video of the slap more than 20 times.
Kenny Rock said Smith and his brother have known each other since the late ’80s or early ’90s, and he thought they had a “pretty good relationship” prior to the slapping incident.
The younger Rock said that he thinks the academy should have removed Smith from the Oscars immediately.
“He should have been escorted out of there,” he said. “I hold them accountable for that. He could have went up there and did anything you wanted to my brother. It could have been much worse than what he did.”
The academy declined to comment on Kenny Rock’s comments.
The organization plans to move forward with disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations of its standards of conduct on April 18. The academy has apologized to Chris Rock, its nominees, guests and viewers and said that it had requested Smith leave the ceremony.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the academy said.
It is unclear what disciplinary actions will be taken against Smith. Whoopi Goldberg, one of the academy’s governors, said on the talk show “The View,” “We’re not going to take that Oscar from him.”
“He belittled my brother. He had no respect for him,” Kenny Rock said. “In my opinion, he embarrassed himself by doing that and his legacy by doing that.”