Yeah, He Apologized, But…

…here’s what I still can’t get past about the role for which he won an Oscar. Smith said: “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. Huh?

I enjoyed “King Richard” well enough. But I never for a minute let it blind me to how the movie omitted some of the complexities of Richard Williams. According to his eldest daughter, Williams abandoned her and her four siblings (children from Williams’ first marriage) and, eventually, married the mother of Venus and Serena, to whom he was an inspirational parent. Williams fathered at least 16 children with five or six women. Ask yourself: would Hollywood make and reward an inspirational movie about a woman who had 16 children with six partners? This isn’t a judgment it’s a question. I raise it because at the heart of Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock are questions of masculinity and, according to some Smith defenders, defending your wife’s honor. Men are defended by some people for expressing their feelings through violence. If a woman had assaulted another woman at the Oscars, how many defenders would she have? She would have been hauled off that stage. Immediately. Let us celebrate the achievement and humanity of women in show biz — Ariana! Jane! Gaga and Liza! Amy and Wanda and Regina! — but let’s not pretend that when it comes to gender the double standard no longer applies.

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