The 94th Academy Awards took place this past Sunday, March 27th, 2022. And while the night hosted several important milestones, the moment that took center stage was Will Smith walking on stage and slapping Chris Rock. The incident occurred as a reaction to a comment Rock made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s closely-cropped hair. Pinkett Smith has openly admitted the hairstyle is a result of her battle with the autoimmune disease alopecia.
Almost instantly the event was trending on Twitter and across the internet. Discussions about race, violence and comedic license ensued. Wondering how Americans were feeling about Sunday’s Oscars, we utilized the PureSpectrum Insights Platform to see who had watched and how they were feeling about Will Smith and the Oscars in the aftermath.
Sentiments Around Will Smith
Only about 40% of the Americans we polled reported viewing the Academy Award broadcast on Sunday evening. However, by Monday, 91% said they were aware of what had transpired between Will Smith and Chris Rock. When asked if the fight was real or staged, opinions varied. 56% of respondents believed the fight was real, 21% believe the incident was staged and 23% were unsure.
The ongoing conversation around the Smith / Rock conflict seems to center on if Smith’s actions were justified. About a third of the overall respondents we polled believed that it was. When utilizing the PureSpectrum Insights Platform to filter responses by age, we saw the youngest respondents (18-24) looked at Smith’s actions more favorably than older generations (55-64).
As an additional twist to the evening, Smith was later awarded Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard. By Monday afternoon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it had launched a formal review following “the slap heard around the world.”
While only 19% of respondents say they have seen King Richard, another 20% said they are more likely to see the film after what transpired at the Academy Awards. When asked if Smith should be stripped of his Academy Award, nearly 70% of Americans believe Smith should keep his award.
Only 30% of respondents believe more action should be taken by the Academy against Smith. And despite America’s penchant for cancel culture, nearly 70% of respondents say they will continue to support Will Smith and watch his movies in the future.
Does Trending = Future Ratings
It has been noted that the Oscars’ popularity has been waning and the pandemic has put a measured strain on the film industry. 50% of Americans polled said they hadn’t seen any of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture. When asked what movie had won Best Picture, a majority of Americans did not know as seen in the PureSpectrum Insights Platform word cloud feature.
Did the fight between Smith and Rock give the Academy Awards relevancy? About a quarter of our respondents felt that it had. But when asked if what happened at the 2022 Academy Awards made them curious to watch next year’s broadcast, only a third of respondents said yes.
Even if they weren’t cinephiles, it’s clear that most Americans had strong opinions about what occurred at this year’s Academy Awards. If you would like to learn more about how you can quickly collect consumer sentiments, get in touch with us. We are also happy to share additional insights and crosstabs from our survey.
PureSpectrum interviewed 507 online respondents on March 28th, 2022, using the PureSpectrum Insights Platform. The platform is integrated with the PureSpectrum Marketplace which combines proprietary measurement tools and third-party data validation to quickly collect high-quality insights. The study fielded in less than 15 minutes, targeted people within the United States, and consisted of a general population audience of 18+ years old. This study uses a 95% confidence level to examine the data.