New York Times contributor Roxane Gay has penned a column in defense of humorlessness in which she argues that black women like actress Jada Pinkett Smith shouldn’t have to tolerate jokes made at their expense like the one Chris Rock told at the Oscars on Sunday, which prompted Will Smith to charge the stage and smack the comedian in the face.
In her column, Gay compared Jada Pinkett Smith to Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, claiming both women shouldn’t be forced to endure insults and disrespect while under public scrutiny.
“This is a defense of thin skin,” Gay wrote. “It is a defense of boundaries and being human and enforcing one’s limits. It is a repudiation of the incessant valorizing of taking a joke, having a sense of humor. It is a rejection of the expectation that we laugh off everything people want to say and do to us.”
Gay didn’t excuse Will Smith’s physical assault at the Oscars. But she attempted to rationalize his behavior, saying he “most likely saw his wife’s pain, and it’s possible he was himself experiencing a moment of fragility, of thin skin.”
She added: “It was also a rare moment when a [black] woman was publicly defended.”
I wrote a defense of thin skin and how it’s fine if you don’t want to take a joke, https://t.co/kIZVIsyy7U
— roxane gay (@rgay) March 29, 2022
At the Oscars, presenter Chris Rock cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, remarking that she should star in a sequel to G.I. Jane. The quip prompted Will Smith to storm the stage and slap Rock in the face.
When he retook his seat, Will Smith shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”
Watch below (Warning: Strong language):
— Adam Silverstein (@SilversteinAdam) March 28, 2022
Gay compared Jada Pinkett Smith’s alleged ordeal on Oscars night to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s recent confirmation hearings.
“For many [black] women, it was a painful spectacle because we know what it is like to experience that kind of scrutiny, interrogation and disrespect in personal and professional settings. We know what it’s like to withstand scrutiny without intervention.”
As Breitbart News reported, Jada Pinkett Smith demonstrated that she indeed has thick skin when she declared in a TikTok video just days before the Oscars that she doesn’t care what people think about her baldness.
“I don’t give two craps what people feel of this bald head of mine, because guess what, I love it,” she said.