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The continuing double standards surrounding Will Smith

Graphic by Sarah Irwin

It’s been eight months since Will Smith infamously slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. For some reason, he still appears to be apologizing for his actions.

Ahead of the release of his first film following the incident, “Emancipation” – which premieres in theaters on Dec. 9 – the Academy Award-winning actor has said that he “completely understands” if viewers aren’t ready to see him in a new movie just yet.

Smith has already resigned from the Academy and has been banned from attending other related events for the next 10 years. He’s now considered “controversial,” despite having an otherwise spotless 30-year career.

Not that long ago, known abuser Chris Brown won the award for Favorite Male R&B Artist at the American Music Awards. Since he wasn’t in attendance, actress-singer Kelly Rowland accepted the award on his behalf.

When she announced Brown as the winner, audience members began to boo and in response, she immediately told them to “chill out.” Rowland proceeded to congratulate him on his win and thank him for “being an incredible performer.”

Brown’s public image has been rightfully stained since 2009 when he pleaded guilty to physically assaulting Rihanna during their relationship. The impact on his music career was short-lived, as he has still managed to achieve mainstream success throughout numerous public disputes and legal drama.

Other celebrities have praised Brown in the past and encouraged people to extend grace and forgiveness to him. One of the most recent examples is Lizzo’s interaction with him backstage during Omarion’s Millennium tour last October. She called Brown her “favorite person” and asked to get a photo together.

It’s unfathomable how an artist like Brown, who has been violent on multiple occasions, has a wide enough fanbase to sell records and win awards while Smith has faced this much grief over a single transgression.

How is it that people can praise and defend a man who has had multiple restraining orders against him, yet they’re unable to give someone the benefit of the doubt for a mistake they immediately apologized for? Fans and celebrities should think long and hard before they decide who to shun and who to support.

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