The ‘Real Time’ host told TMZ “It was not a good look for Will”, and continued “I could make a case that we’ve all be under a lot of pressure and a lot of emotion — and I understand a lot of emotion running through him, but that was just out of line and it re-enforced the idea that jokes are the enemy”.
Maher further said, “It was sort of like cancel culture encapsulated because at first you saw he was laughing at the joke, right? This is what happens a lot with cancel stuff. At first: ‘Oh, it’s funny.’ And then you look around: ‘Oh wait, I’m supposed to be offended.’ And then there’s the [subsequent] overreaction. He was like the Twitter mob come alive”.
The 66-year-old also praised Rock for not responding in kind and reverting attention back to the show. Maher said, “Chris Rock is the hero here”.
Several other comedians like Whoopi Goldberg and Jim Carrey have also been vocal about their concerns regarding Smith’s actions. Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s hair, while the actor is known to struggle with alopecia, a disorder that results in severe hair loss.
Smith later apologized for his actions while receiving the Best Actor award for his ‘King Richard‘ role. He also issued a public apology to Chris Rock, saying “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness”.
While Rock has not filed a complaint against Smith, the Academy has launched its own investigation into the matter, after condemning Smith’s actions and saying it does not condone violence in any form.