‘Summer Of Soul’ Producer On Will Smith’s ‘Selfish’ Oscars Slap: ‘It Robbed The Category Of Its Moment’

Since the moment Will Smith decided to get up out of his seat at the Oscars and slap Chris Rock for a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, the repercussion have been raining down. Now, The Academy is conducting a formal review of the incident, but another innocent party in the fallout from the drama is Questlove and his entire talented team behind the Summer Of Soul documentary, one of the winners that was announced right after the incident occured.

Questlove already admitted he was “rattled” by the incident while giving his acceptance speech for his first Oscar (!), which is definitely understandable, and now one of the producers behind the film has spoken out about how Will’s “selfish” decision impacted the team.

Joseph Patel, one of the producers of Summer Of Soul shared a lengthy thread on Twitter tonight, not just about the impact of Will’s actions, but how a throwaway comment from Chris Rock about how the project was Questlove and “four white guys” really erased a historic accomplishment for him. Patel is of Southeast Asian descent, as were a couple other winners that night for another film, making it a pretty historic for them and their culture. Read Patel’s thoughts transcribed below, along with the corresponding tweets.

Ok, here we go with some thoughts and feelings on what happened Sunday night, “the Slap,” if you will. [thread]. First, I’ve been drunk with joy the last few days for me and my team and our Oscar win. So many of you – IRL friends, internet friends, acquaintances, colleagues, old homies and new – have shown love and support and genuine excitement for our achievement. I feel that love, and I thank you. It’s taken me a few days to process everything. Still sort of processing it.

Once we realized the Chris Rock/Will Smith interaction wasn’t a bit, everything got turned upside down. Everyone was still trying to make sense of it when Chris persevered & started to read the nominees. I think what Will did was selfish. It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs. And it robbed Summer of Soul and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film. I feel bad for Ahmir. I feel bad for my fellow producers. I feel bad for our whole team. I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us.

We were in shock walking to the stage -not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened.I feel bad for Ahmir. I feel bad for my fellow producers. I feel bad for our whole team. I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us. We were in shock walking to the stage -not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened. Then Will hugs Ahmir and daps me up. I didn’t even know it was happening in the moment. Still in shock. (Ahmir handled the moment with grace, giving a speech from the heart. It was beautiful to see. I’m so deeply moved by how much he has grown in the last few years.)

What I didn’t hear in that moment walking to stage but was told of afterwards is what Chris Rock said when reading our name from the winner’s card – The winner is “Summer of Soul…Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and…4 white guys.” WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F*CK????? The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award. I was ecstatic that I was the 3RD South Asian to win that night – after Riz and Aneil Karia won earlier in the night for The Long Goodbye. 3 South Asians winning on the same night – that’s never happened before! And it’s meaningful! It’s history!

So with my family and friends watching, Chris Rock lumped me in as 1 of “4 white guys.” (Nevermind the disrespect to @d2films and @fyvo for not even saying their names, and the inaccuracy of us being 3 producers not 4). I’m a big boy – I can take a joke. Comedians make jokes. But not in that moment. What a shitty, disrespectful thing to do. AND HERE’S THE THING…It wasn’t that Chris Rock was under stress. He made the same joke the night before on stage at the Roots Jam! So I’m angry. Angry at Will Smith. Angry at Chris Rock. Angry for me. Angry for Ahmir. Angry for my fellow filmmakers. I got back home to New York last night and saw the ceremony on my DVR and didn’t have the stomach to watch it. I probably never will. Thank you, Chris – You absolute f*cking d*ck.

Now, all that said, I know that what happened with the ceremony and the achievement of winning an Oscar will separate over time. And truly, like I said earlier, I’m living in a place of absolute joy over what we did. never need a statue to tell me how nice I am – but it sure helps. And what both Will AND Chris did really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us. FIN. Also it goes without saying I speak for me and me alone. Not Ahmir and not our coproducers.

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