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Chris Rock Addresses The Slap On Netflix Special: Selective Outrage

Updated: Mar 30, 2023





  • Leading Business Highlight - Chris Rock made an ingenious timing move of choosing March 4, 2023, one week before the 2023 Oscars, as his first on-air time addressing the incident where Will Smith slapped him at the 2022 Oscars, live in a historic Netflix special.

  • Context for Highlight - It is historic because, not only did Chris Rock address the slap live on Netflix, but many Netflix fans had also been eagerly waiting for the streaming platform to finally offer live-streamed content. Rock’s special was indeed a ‘Netflix Live streamed special event’, it was Netflix’s first live-streamed event…ever. Rock 5”10, around 168 lbs made it very clear what type of move he thought the 6”2 around 200lbs Smith made by coming up on stage to assault him, a brother Smith knew he could beat, a type that starts with the letter “B”. Rock also made it clear that he had always had love for and rooted for Smith using the present tense ‘love’ not past tense but that Smith has the very title of Rock’s special: Selective Outrage. In sum, Rock stated that the slap was not about him but that Smith’s wife had hurt him more than Smith could ever hurt Rock but that in Smith’s ‘selective outrage’ his response to that hurt was to agree to be interviewed about it. Throughout his Selective Outrage special, Rock who says his pronouns are "poor" took jabs at Subaru for offering to donate to your favorite charity when Rock would prefer that they gave a discount instead; at LuLuLemmon promotes much-needed anti-racism sentiments but sells pants that poor people can’t afford; at white male January 6th rioters whom Rock said were rioting against those in charge of the government, when most of the people in charge are white men and at all smart-phone users for typing out selective outrage tweets on smartphones made by child slave labor. While Rock made repeated points to viewers in line with not filling up the proverbial emergency room with people who have paper cuts, his quiet statement about making sure that we don’t overstep into victim-shaming and calling for healing was very quiet, barely noticeable. Rock did not overtly emphasize the still very present need for anti-racism, unity, healing, and becoming a more truly inclusive, equitable United States of America but that is perhaps most poignantly made in the experience that Rock shared about his mother, born in 1945, growing up she had to go to a veterinarian because it was illegal for Black people to be seen by a white dentist. Rock reminded the audience that this was not Harriet Tubman (from the 1800s) but his mother who was sitting in the audience alive and present with them. Rock inferred that Americans need to start having real conversations, and to get united the fact that his special on Selective Outrage, which was full of strong potentially disagreeable statements, but apparently real unfiltered sentiments from his mind's point of view was trending immediately after it ended would make it appear that millions of Americans may agree.

Tips/Key Take-A-Ways for Rising & Current MediaLeaderz & MusicLeaderz

  • Timing Matters, Use It Wisely - Rock's decision to take time to gather his thoughts and say what he is now is having a far greater impact, with more clarity than it would have if he had spoken out immediately after the incident.

  • Say What You Mean - Whether we agree with him or disagree with him, Chris Rock has made a career...and millions of dollars saying what he means.

Key Questions/Next Steps

  • Decide - There is a lot going on in the world right now.

    • Decide where your brand stands on issues - what good can it bring to the world? Can your brand help people share more love & good despite the issues?

    • Think about, pray or meditate on visualizing what kind of world you want to help life on this planet become

    • Make a strategic plan to support the culturally relevant areas that you want to serve and champion, (i.e. social posts, a product, a song, etc)

  • Be Tone Hearing, Not Tone Deaf - Messaging matters, so does compassion. Making sure that you support areas effectively will require also understanding where your audience and consumers are on a matter, if you aren't sure here are a few ideas to find out how

    • Have a Live Q&A where you listen to fans, customers or bring them on screen to share their thoughts on a topic

    • Read comments about issues on brand posts, social media or news outlet articles that you know your fans and customers follow


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