When “Summer of Soul” was announced as the best documentary winner during the 2022 Oscars, Joseph Patel was in shock. The Indian American producer — who took home his first Academy Award along with Questlove, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein – expressed that he was “still trying to make sense” of Will Smith and Chris Rock's heated exchange, which happened right before their category was announced.
Days after the now-infamous moment when Smith slapped Rock in the face, Patel is expressing his anger and calling out the stars for robbing the winners of their moment.
“OK, here we go with some thoughts and feelings on what happened Sunday night, ‘the Slap,’ if you will,” Patel began his Twitter thread on Wednesday, before his account appeared to be set to private. “First, I’ve been drunk with joy the last few days for me and my team and our Oscar win. So many of you — IRL friends, internet friends, acquaintances, colleagues, old homies and new — have shown love and support and genuine excitement for our achievement.”
Patel wrote that it’s taken him a few days to “process everything,” explaining that once people realized that the altercation between Smith and Rock wasn’t a bit “everything got turned upside down.”
Before Rock presented the category, he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Pinkett Smith, who has been vocal about her hair loss and alopecia, rolled her eyes at Rock. However, Smith got upset over the joke, walked onstage and slapped him before telling the comedian to keep his wife’s name out of his “f------ mouth.”
“I think what Will did was selfish. It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs,” Patel tweeted. “And it robbed Summer of Soul and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film.”
The producer added that he feels bad for director and producer Questlove (whose real name is Ahmir Thompson), his fellow producers and their whole team. “I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us," he added. “We were in shock walking to the stage - not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened.”
Patel recalled walking onstage to accept the award and Smith hugging Questlove, who “handled the moment with grace, giving a speech from the heart.”
Patel then touched on an angering moment that he was later told about.
“What I didn’t hear in that moment walking to stage but was told of afterwards is what Chris Rock said when reading our name from the winner’s card — The winner is ‘Summer of Soul…Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and…4 white guys." WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F---?????” Patel wrote, adding, “The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award.”
In playback of the awards show, when “Summer of Soul” was announced as the winner in the best documentary category, Rock read the project’s name and said, “Ahmir Thompson and four white guys.”
Patel expressed that he was “ecstatic” that he was the third South Asian to win that night after Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia.
“So with my family and friends watching, Chris Rock lumped me in as 1 of ‘4 white guys. (Nevermind the disrespect to @d2films and @fyvo for not even saying their names, and the inaccuracy of us being 3 producers not 4),” Patel continued. He also wrote that he can take a joke, but not in that moment. It wasn’t that Rock was “under stress” after the incident with Smith, Patel continued, “He made the same joke the night before on stage at the Roots Jam!”
“So I’m angry. Angry at Will Smith. Angry at Chris Rock. Angry for me. Angry for Ahmir. Angry for my fellow filmmakers. So I’m angry. Angry at Will Smith. Angry at Chris Rock. Angry for me. Angry for Ahmir. Angry for my fellow filmmakers," Patel passionately expressed. “ I got back home to New York last night and saw the ceremony on my DVR and didn’t have the stomach to watch it. I probably never will. Thank you, Chris — You absolute f------ d---.”
“Now, all that said, I know that what happened with the ceremony and the achievement of winning an Oscar will separate over time. And truly, like I said earlier, I’m living in a place of absolute joy over what we did,” he continued. Patel added that what Smith and Rock did “really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us.”
Patel concluded his message by noting that he is speaking for himself, not Questlove or the other producers.
A day after the Oscars, Questlove said he didn't realize what happened between the two comedians because he was so busy meditating.
“When I opened my eyes, I didn’t realize, like, ‘Why is everyone so quiet?’ I literally was not present for that whole, entire moment,” he told Jimmy Fallon Monday on “The Tonight Show.”
“And as I’m walking to the stage, I’m kind of putting two and two together and I realize that that was a real moment, like, maybe three seconds before I spoke words. In my mind, they’re just doing a sketch or whatever and I’m just like, ‘OK, Ahmir, remember to thank your mom, your dad.’ So I was not present at all. I was just in a blank space,” the bandleader for the “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” recalled.
Smith took home the best actor awards for "King Richard" less than an hour after he hit Rock. During his acceptance speech he apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and viewers. On Monday, Smith publicly apologized to Rock.
That same day, the Academy shared that members had started a “formal review around the incident” and condemned Smith’s actions. On Wednesday, they announced disciplinary proceedings against Smith “for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.”
The organization also claimed that they had asked Smith to leave after the incident and he “refused.”
As for Rock, the comedian made his first comments since being smacked in the face by Smith during his stand-up show in Boston on Wednesday night.
“How was your weekend?” the comedian asked his sold-out audience who burst out in laughter, via Variety. “I don’t have a bunch of s--- about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that s---. And it will be serious and funny.”