Phemi Kgomongwe
2 min readApr 1, 2022
Photo by De'Andre Bush on Unsplash

For the first time in my life, I got to see what Hollywood really is. It is a giant reflective blob. Hollywood does not react, it portrays. It operates on a carefully orchestrated call and response contract with society. We shout from the outside what we want, and it portrays it.

At the Oscars 2022, a voice shouted from the inside, violence occurred on one of its biggest nights. Hollywood was stunned. It was called to action, and it was found wanting. The machine was not built that way, it only knows how to portray.

All those superstars, superheroes, uber-rich celebrities could not react. I am sure many were more than uncomfortable when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage and then went back to his chair to continue to swear at him in a very angry menacing tone. But, even at the height of their discomfort, they could not go off-script. The night (Academy Awards) is a carefully orchestrated evening meant to reflect the achievements and importance of Hollywood to the world. That is what they must portray. A united movement that honours and celebrates each other and each other’s work.

Everyone is now scrambling to portray some sort of reaction. What type of reaction though? They are waiting for the call from society. That wakes them up, the same way you wake up these digital assistants who live with us (Alexa, Google, Siri, etc.). They want to give us what we need, but we saw what they are. A programmed cohort designed to reflect and not react.

Will Smith is the glitch in the system that exposed the flaw in the design. The laugh, the walk on stage, the Hollywood slap, the screaming of profanity from the front row. We have all seen it before. In the movies, on some shows, but never in Hollywood real-time. The accolades, the tears, the standing ovation, the dancing. That is the real-time Hollywood we know. These all occurred in one night, actioned by one of their biggest stars, on their biggest night, receiving their biggest award.

I can’t speak about what happens to Hollywood going forward. I can only speak about what happens to my relationship and understanding of Hollywood from now on. It is an institution that is rigid in a dynamic world. A façade that reflects and portrays images and cultural values that are shouted by society. It does not have discernment, it does not react or take a stance, it is a blob that is fast losing its lustre.

#hollywood #oscars2022 #willsmith #chrisrock