It's this morning when I saw Will Smith's apology video, after four months of his silence on slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. It's a pleasant surprise to see my childhood hero address a moment of rashness, and express publicly what had gone on from his point of view.
Now, there are two camps from the public. Going by YouTube comments, there are (1) those who sympathise too with Will in realising his humanity, and (2) those who view Chris as the victim, while doubting Will as the self-victimizing crybaby who hasn't moved on, as an excuse for schadenfreude in seeing another good man brought down to the level of a joke.
The people who fall into category 2 in this matter, are people who disguise their weakness:
Chris Rock may have been slapped and yelled at, but to view him as that poor, helpless victim who's like a hurt child with no mommy or daddy to protect him, is far, far more demeaning of Chris than what Will Smith had done. He's not a child, he's an experienced comedian who was able to quickly reframe the slap as "the greatest moment in the history of television," and get on with the Oscars.
There is an air of paranoid cynicism, where people nitpick how Will has apologised: "Why isn't it titled 'Sorry, Chris Rock' instead of 'It's been a minute..'" or "Will Smith is just doing it to save his own ass at this point." The reactions are like a Rorschach test; strangely, when I first saw the video in my notifications, the reception has been positive and supporting, but as time passed and more of the internet had pored through to react, there were more reprimanding and demeaning replies which drown out the supportive ones.
My instincts were triggered: there was something not right about pretending to hold principles over Chris Rock's lack of sympathy and reconnection towards Will, while remaining silent on the comments which go #CLM (Cuck Lives Matter).
When a group of people presents consensus, let alone the public, the bottom line and the true face of this multi-headed hydra is what crudeness is allowed to be expressed with impunity; not the facade of polite disdain. This is why holding a sense of self-respect is important, as other people's attitudes and opinions of you are fickle at best, mercurially changing the next day for reasons that go beyond your immediate awareness.
As it is when people who, like myself, have gone through dark phases when it feels like anything is possible because they've suffered in life -- only to realise how sorely mistaken they are after the fact. Having read Will Smith's memoir, he's the same when it comes to chasing after fulfillment and clambering through hurdles. Real growth is a struggle, and it takes courage and honour to acknowledge where you have done wrong, and very little to cynically demean an apology out of cowardice. The same hard-edged internet cowardice which doesn't believe in personal growth or hope over people they don't like, and enjoys pitying people's failures. I'm sure these "thick-skinned" people get to be so smug when they've never actually stepped out of the norm to put themselves on the spot.
To me, that's not really being alive -- as you will never know who your true friends really are until you make mistakes.