Another Oscars ceremony is right around the corner, marking a year since Will Smith infamously slapped Chris Rock onstage after he made a distasteful joke about his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith. While the Emancipation actor may be able to poke fun at the incident now on TikTok, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, however, is—surprise!—still not over it.
In fact, organizers for the Oscars, airing on March 12, are seemingly going into this year’s ceremony prepared for battle.
In a recent with Time magazine, Academy CEO Bill Kramer confirmed that there will be “a crisis team” at this year’s event ready to handle any surprise moments that could occur during the broadcast. (Basically, if an actor jumps onstage to slap someone again).
“We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before and many plans in place,” Kramer stated. “We’ve run many scenarios. So it is our hope that we will be prepared for anything that we may not anticipate right now but that we’re planning for just in case it does happen.”
He continued: “These crisis plans—the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place—allow us to say this is the group that we have to gather very quickly. This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement. And obviously depending on the specifics of the crisis—and let’s hope something doesn’t happen. and we never have to use these. But we already have frameworks in place that we can modify.”
These statements immediately raise a number of questions, both serious and dumb: Is this crisis team just hired security following whatever protocol they ignored last year? Does this team include law enforcement? Is anyone who accidentally comes too close to the stage at risk of being tackled? What are the possible scenarios the Academy thinks might occur at the ceremony? Does this team have their own task force name? Will they wear special outfits?
Since last March, The Academy has repeatedly expressed regret over how they handled Slapgate. Controversially, after the incident, Smith stayed for the rest of the ceremony and was able to accept his award for Best Actor, even receiving a standing ovation. (A spokesperson for The Academy claimed that he was asked to leave but refused, which no one seemed to buy.)
Likewise, the Academy’s slow reaction pissed off a number of celebrities, including Zoë Kravitz, Ashton Kutcher, and Mila Kunis. At last week’s Oscars nominee luncheon, Academy president Janet Yang reiterated that the organization’s response was “inadequate” and promised to act “swiftly, compassionately and decisively” for such instances going forward.
Despite allowing Smith to stay at the ceremony, the Academy publicly condemned the actor’s behavior and immediately launched a probe. Ultimately, the organization banned the multi-hyphenate from attending the ceremony for 10 years. For his part, Smith resigned from the prestigious institution.
It’s extremely likely that this year’s Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel will address the slap in some way or another during his opening monologue. (And if not, someone else will). It’s honestly easier to imagine this crisis team existing as a part of a comedic bit rather than something created to actually protect attendees. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait two more weeks to see if they’re dressed like Power Rangers.