Award show scandals that made our jaws drop
Award shows such as the Academy Awards, Emmys and Grammys are meant to celebrate and reward the best of the best movies, TV shows, music and other popular entertainment. Seeing our favourite celebs and artists gathered at these star-studded shows is truly entertaining – but it doesn’t come without the occasional scandal (or two). From head-scratching name flubs to embarrassing winner mix-ups, these are some of the most memorable award show scandals that made people gasp and ask, “Did that really just happen?”
The slap heard around the world at the 94th Academy Awards
We’re referring, of course, to the unmistakable ‘thwack’ of Will Smith’s hand hitting Chris Rock’s face during the 2022 Oscars. The incident unfurled as stand-up comedian was Chris Rock was onstage to present the Best Documentary award. He was telling jokes and roasting fellow actors when he told a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head that struck a nerve.
“Jada, I love you,” joked Rock. “G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock was likening the actress to G.I. Jane, a character with a shaved head played by Demi Moore in 1994.
Smith, the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, laughed at first, but Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes and clearly didn’t appreciate the joke. The actress has alopecia, a condition that causes intermittent hair loss. She has been public about her struggles and she shaves her head to try to come to terms with her condition.
Seeing his wife’s discomfort must have spurred Smith to act. Within a moment he walked up to Rock onstage and slapped the comedian across his face. In the confusion and shock, viewers wondered if the incident was scripted, until Smith returned to his table, where he yelled at Rock with a voice full of emotion, “Keep my wife’s name out your (expletive) mouth!” Twice.
Later in the show, Smith nabbed the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Richard Williams in King Richard. During a tearful acceptance speech, he apologised to the Academy and other nominees, but notably not Chris Rock.
Sofia Vergara’s pedestal gag at the 2014 Emmys
At the 2014 Emmys, many feminists, social media users and critics alike slammed a sight gag featuring Sofia Vergara and the Television Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum. The joke literally placed the super sexy Modern Family star on a slowly revolving pedestal. With her curves on full display, Rosenblum ended his boring speech about the state of TV with what seemed like a justification of the ‘sex sells’ mentality. “What truly matters is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch.” Vergara didn’t understand the backlash. She told Entertainment Weekly that she did not see the gag as demeaning. “It’s absolutely the opposite. It means that somebody can be hot and also funny and make fun of herself. Somebody started this who has no sense of humour.”