15 million people watched the awards ceremony in the US
The moment, which was seen by around 15 million people in the US, drew a range of complaints, but many focussed on the fact that children could have witnessed the incident.
TMZ, who obtained the list of complaints, claim that one said: “The level of violence from one black man inflicted onto another over something he didn’t like hearing is intolerable!! Are you tolerating this??? Thought black lives mattered?? Obviously not!! Is that your message???? Smith should be fined & suspendert!!!!”
Another complaint called for Smith to be arrested and banned from the Oscars. “Will Smith physically and verbally assaulted Chris Rock in front of the world on national TV at the Oscars tonight,” it read. “It was so bad the words Will was yelling at Chris were blocked out from the public’s hearing. Will should be banned from further Oscars and should be arrested for assault which we all saw. There should be no allowance for privilege for such violence which would be apparent to all.”
One viewer from Texas called the incident “devastating” while another from California said they were “disturbed”.
While there were only 66 official complaints from US viewers, numerous celebrities have criticised Smith’s reaction to the joke, med Jim Carrey calling on the Bad Boys star to be arrested.
Smith has since apologised to Rock for the incident and the comedian commented on it at a recent stand-up show in Boston. “I’m still kind of processing what happened, so at some point I’ll talk about that,” said Rock. “And it’ll be serious and it’ll be funny, but right now I’m going to tell some jokes.”
Rock has denied claims that he and Smith have spoken and cleared the air.