The White Stars and Celebs Who Punched People Live on TV or at Awards

Much of the news and debate on the interwebs this week was about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars for making a joke about his wife’s baldness. Jada Pinckett-Smith had shaved her head because she has aloepecia. Rock joked about her doing G.I. Jane 2, so Smith got out of his chair, walked up to Rock and slapped him. After sitting back down, Smith told Rock to keep his wife out of his ‘f***ing mouth’. And then the outrage and speculation began. People have condemned Smith for assaulting Rock, who has not pressed charges. There has been speculation that the incident was somehow staged, as the ratings for the Oscars has been falling with something like only 10 per cent of the American public watching the last one. Hence the suggestion that the kefuffle was set up to add a bit of drama and boost viewing figures. I doubt it very much – it all seemed genuine to me. And if it was set up, it hasn’t worked because the figures for the Oscars were still the second lowest they’ve been.

People have also been wondering how much of it was due to Will Smith’s own unconventional marriage and the influence of his wife, Jada. Smith and his wife have an open marriage, though this is due to Jada having an affair with a Rapper called August. Smith doesn’t seem to have done anything to initiate the open marriage, except put up with his wife’s affair. And phone camera footage from someone in the audience shows Jada laughing immediately after the attack. The conservative commenter Matt Walsh has argued that this definitely shows she isn’t a good wife, as part of a wife’s responsibilities are to stop their husbands behaving like idiots and destroying their careers. In this view, a real wife in the circumstances would have told Smith to sit down, not to be stupid and that they weren’t going to the after show part as she wanted to have a long talk with him when they got home.

And then there was the response of History Debunked to all this. Webb put up a video with a title about this being something to do with increased diversity at the Oscars.

I don’t think so, because I don’t believe that people are violent or otherwise simply because of their ethnicity. Whatever the real motives behind the slap were, it definitely wasn’t the result of urban Black ghetto culture. It simply seems to be a man reacting, or overreacting, to a gibe about his wife. And besides, there have been plenty of White stars and personalities, who’ve punch or tried to punch someone either on camera or at an awards show. Here’s four.

  1. John Wayne vs Barry Norman.

Way back in the 1970s, John Wayne, the star of so many classic westerns, tried to punch the late, genial host of Film (fill in name of the year). But why, I hear you ask, given Norman’s calm, laid back and generally placid demeanour? Apparently it was during various student protests in America. Wayne, who had very right-wing views, started ranting about Communists. Bazza thought he was joking and started to laugh. Wayne got angry and was about to swing a punch at him when someone pressed another whisky in his hand and he settled down. And why not?

2. Angry Husband vs Bernard Levin on That Was The Week That Was.

This is quite similar to Smith’s attack on Rock at the Oscars. Every so often one of clip shows on TV shows this incident from the classic 60s satirical show, created by David Frost. A man comes out of the audience and walks towards Bernard Levin, one of the show’s other hosts. He politely asks Levin to stand up. Levin rises from his seat behind a desk with an expression that shows he has absolutely no idea what’s going on. The man then punches the Times journo and walks off. He angrily tells Levin that it’s because he gave a bad review to a play his wife was in.

3. Jeremy Clarkson vs. Piers Morgan.

This was at an awards ceremony, though I’ve forgotten what it was about. Clarkson’s talked about this on television himself, and said he’s genuinely not proud of his behaviour. Morgan had apparently walked up to Clarkson and accused him of having an affair. Understandably, Clarkson got annoyed and punched the former Mirror editor. At which point, in Clarkson’s telling of the incident, a crowd formed around them. A man smoking a cigar told them to take it outside. A small bloke suddenly rushed up, tore his shirt off and said, ‘No-one mess with me – I’m from Newcastle’.

4. Argy-Bargy between Guardian and Mirror Journalists at the Newspaper of the Year Awards

This was reported in the ‘Street of Shame’ column in Private Eye, way back in the ’90s. The two groups of journalists from the above papers had already been shouting insults at each other and getting increasingly drunk at the press awards. Things came to a disastrous head when the Guardian/Observer team won an award for best investigative reporting. The Mirror crew, who believed it should have gone to them, stormed the stage and tried to grab the much-coveted glass trophy. This slipped from their hands, fell to the floor and smashed. The evening’s corporate sponsor was understandably not amused, and withdrew their sponsorship. However, it would sponsor Young Journalist of the Year, who they clearly trusted to be better behaved.

These incidents aren’t at the same, global level of the Oscars, but they definitely show that irate members of the public, film and TV stars and journalists have been trying to cause bovver on TV and at awards ceremonies long before Smith and Rock. Race doesn’t have anything to do with it. If there’s any common factor here, it’s often men getting angry at what they consider to be outrageous attacks on their wives or marriage, or, in the last case, simply a mixture of intense professional rivalry and copious amounts of alcohol. Which may also have played a factor in Smith’s case.

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5 Responses to “The White Stars and Celebs Who Punched People Live on TV or at Awards”

  1. trev Says:

    Do you remember Grace Jones attacking chat show host Russell Harty about 40-odd years ago? I can’t remember what sparked it, what it was that she took offence to. And of course there was another famous chat show host who was attacked by an emu…

    • beastrabban Says:

      I remember those incidents! Jones slapped Harty because he was also interviewing Wilfred Hyde White at the same time, and had turned away from her to speak to him. And Parkinson got very huffy about being assaulted by Emu, which makes it all the funnier.

  2. Que? Says:

    It just goes to show what a grifting POS History Debunked/Simon Webb actually is. That man is barely good at British history, yet he seems to think that his rants are anything but the delusions of a senile, old fart that never made it big.

    Anybody that takes that old man seriously deserves to lose their money.

  3. Mark Pattie Says:

    Surely Simon Webb would realise that there are also white Slebs who’ve punched other white Slebs at awards ceremonies? Or does he genuinely think, however rich celebrities like Will Smith become, their “inherent violence” never goes away because “Bell Curve BS (my emphasis)?”

    • beastrabban Says:

      I honestly don’t know, as I’m afraid I didn’t watch the video. I was just struck by its title and the thumbnail of Smith slapping Rock. But he has posted videos about how you can tell the ethnicity of the perpetrator from the type of crime. For example, random attacks on people by someone with mental health problems tend to be done by Blacks, according to him. So it’s possible I’ve jumped the gun by not reading his article, but it does seem he thinks Blacks may be more inclined towards violence.

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