Home / Entertainment / Vinay Menon: Will Smith didn’t just slap Chris Rock — he slapped everyone named Will Smith

Vinay Menon: Will Smith didn’t just slap Chris Rock — he slapped everyone named Will Smith

Los Angeles Dodger Will Smith slides to third during a spring training game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday. Smith got booed in a case of guilt by same name.
Will Smith was booed on Thursday. 

Before you cheer, this was not the Will Smith who disgusted the world at the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock. That Will Smith deserves to be crapped upon by boo-birds for the rest of his years. That Will Smith is a lunatic. That Will Smith is a violent narcissist prone to solipsistic hero fantasy. That Will Smith’s apology this week was disingenuously performative. That Will Smith has the impulse control of a rabid pit bull. That Will Smith would laugh after you confided a cancer diagnosis and then bawl inconsolably after a knock-knock joke.

That Will Smith is dangerously unbalanced. That Will Smith is dead to me.

But my heart goes out to this other Will Smith.

This Will Smith, a catcher with the L.A. Dodgers, was booed during a spring training game against the Texas Rangers this week. It’s not funny. But reading Sports Illustrated on Friday, I couldn’t stop laughing. This wasn’t a case of mistaken identity. It was more guilt by same name. Or as Yahoo! Sports put it: “Will Smith, the actor, isn’t the only Will Smith seeing repercussions for the slap heard ’round the world.”

Obviously, this is wrong on every level. This poor Dodger didn’t sucker punch Charlie Montoyo. But because his name is “Will Smith,” he must now deal with public humiliation thanks to that other Will Smith. It’s like being a Charles Manson in the ’70s.

It also makes me reconsider my ridicule for celebrities who give their kids crazy names.

Elon Musk’s son can safely grow old knowing he will never be confused for a serial killer or human trafficker because no other human is named X Æ A-Xii. Pilot Inspektor is in no danger of identity theft. A random Blue Ivy will never get catcalls after drop-kicking a random Kulture Kiari because there are no other Blue Ivys and Kulture Kiaris. These are unicorns.

But Will Smith is a common name. Statistically speaking, there’s probably a Will Smith living on your street. Even in baseball, the Dodgers aren’t the only team with a Will Smith. There is a Will Smith who pitches for the Atlanta Braves, who is no doubt gobbling Prozac while glancing at next week’s opening day schedule.

You know what? Your fishmonger is probably a Will Smith. As is your tailor and financial adviser. Will Smiths are everywhere. I’m pretty sure the kid in Grade 3 who ate paper airplanes and beat his chest like Tarzan was a Will Smith. He frightened me.

But he never beat us. He was only a danger to his own digestive tract.

By contrast, this actor Will Smith, this disgrace to our species, has inflicted moniker shame on every Will Smith. Time once published a feature about what it was like to share a celebrity name. The interviews included Donald Trump, an oncologist in Virginia. And Taylor Swift, a male photographer in Seattle with ties to the fishing industry who has spent the last few years coping with the reality that a great many people believe he is the she superstar: “There are times when it is very stalkerish. There are people who email me over and over and over again and even send me nude photos. I don’t want this, and I’m sure she doesn’t want this.”

No. And it makes you think. It’s hard not to feel sorry for any woman named Karen. That was once a beautiful name. Now it is racially charged, associated with white ladies who ask to speak to managers and cause social bedlam via haughty privilege. It’s nuts. Any woman who has a public meltdown caught on camera is now a Karen. I have known many Karens in my time. They are all, without exception, lovely. But now their name is radioactive.

They’d be better off being named Pol Pot.

I think society needs to erect safeguards and escape valves for same name victims.

It’s not fair. I would not want to make restaurant reservations if my surname was Putin. But there’s a lot of red tape in making a legal name change. All of that should be instantly vapourized if a name becomes scandalous. An upstanding fellow trying to help others as a sexual assault counsellor cannot be expected to maintain a sustainable practice if his birth certificate says “Harvey Weinstein.” Not happening. That name is now toxic.

And he should not have to spend a dime or minute switching to a Harry Wigglesworth.

This should be a new rule. If you share a name with an unhinged troublemaker who assaulted someone at the Academy Awards in front of one billion viewers, you can have a new name, instantly and free of charge. Do you know how agonizing it must be to be a pharmacist named Bill Cosby?

At the Oscars, Will Smith didn’t just destroy his own reputation and legacy. Based on the baseball booing on Thursday, he also made it hard to be any Will Smith for the foreseeable future. That’s a lot of Will Smiths. We need to rally around these innocent Will Smiths. These Will Smiths are tremendous. They are not smacking the daylights out of others. Most Will Smiths on this planet would gladly lend you a cup of sugar or help change a tire.

Every Will Smith should sue that Will Smith for defamation.

 

 

Vinay Menon is the Star’s pop culture columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @vinaymenon

*****
Credit belongs to : www.thestar.com

index.php

‘Stranger Things’ 4: So much revealed in the season’s first episode

Back with the Byers, Eleven (or Jane), and the rest of the gang A week …