If you were stunned while watching Will Smith appear to slap Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, you were hardly alone.
Shocked viewers took to Twitter trying to make sense of the moment, which happened when Smith approached Rock on the Oscars stage after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
In the lead-up to the altercation, Rock was ribbing his fellow Hollywood stars in the audience, at one point suggesting that married couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, who were both nominated this year, would find it awkward if only one of them won an award.
Rock then mentioned Smith's nomination for "King Richard" — for which Smith later won — and in the next breath, made a joke about Pinkett Smith starring in a sequel to "G.I. Jane," due to her bald head. In 2018, Pinkett Smith opened up about her hair loss due to alopecia and in 2021 revealed a shaved head.
Smith appeared to laugh off the joke at first, while Pinkett Smith frowned. A moment later, Smith got out of his seat and approached the stage, where he appeared to slap Rock.
The moment was so outrageous, viewers wondered if it was a joke or a planned bit. But to make matters more confusing, Smith returned to his seat and screamed at Rock.
Though censors silenced the broadcast, Smith appeared to be yelling an obscenity at Rock while telling him to "keep my wife's name out of your mouth."
After getting his bearings, Rock told viewers, "That was the greatest night in the history of television."
A short time later, rapper and actor Diddy took the stage to honor the 50th anniversary celebration of “The Godfather.” But first, he addressed Smith and Rock's altercation.
“Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family. ... Right now we’re moving on with love. Everybody make some noise," he said.
During his acceptance speech a short time later, Smith tearfully talked about the importance of protecting his family.
"Love will make you do crazy things," he said.
Viewers watching the fracas between Smith and Rock turned to Twitter to express their shock. While some defended Smith for protecting his wife, others were horrified to have witnessed the tension. Some questioned if the tension was indeed real.
“Jada Pinkett Smith lost her hair because of an autoimmune condition. Chris Rock showed poor taste in the joke,” wrote one.
“Maybe we need to start talking about #ToxicMasculinity. #WillSmith needs to be escorted from the theatre & given a lifetime ban for this. #ChrisRock deserves an award for keeping it together, de-escalating the situation & carrying on with the show. #Oscars2022 #ShameOnWill,” wrote another.
Someone else also chimed in, writing, “Totally unacceptable what just happened. No excuse for #willsmith behavior."
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement to NBC News after the ceremony that it was aware of the incident.
“The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” the statement added.