Will Smith slap is the perfect metaphor for a Hollywood in decline

John Wight
4 min readApr 2, 2022

Hollywood actor Will Smith’s entire career is now defined by a slap that was seen and heard around the world. At this year’s Hollywood Oscars ceremony Smith, in the judgement of his critics, crossed a line by engaging in this act of violence against comedian and host Chris Rock over the latter making a joke at the expense of the former’s wife, sitting next to him in the bejewelled audience.

It’s worth noting that many of these same outraged liberals, aghast with dismay over a face slap, have been extending themselves in agitating for WWIII with Russia over Ukraine these past few weeks.

Anyway, taking a broader view, the degeneration of the Oscars into something akin to a slap (pun intended) stick comedy, mirrors the degeneration of Hollywood as the world’s pre-eminent engine room of culture, entertainment and ideas, which in turn mirrors the fading global hegemony of America itself.

When in its prime, Hollywood was more effective than America’s nuclear arsenal in cementing Washington’s dominance. This aspect of empire — cultural imperialism — is a neglected field of study, which only confirms how effective it is. Indeed, a key component of every empire is in advancing its culture and cultural ideas as universal ideas, thereby depicting non-dominant cultures and cultural ideas as regressive and backward.

American sociologist and media critic, Herbert Schiller, mined this subject to great extent. “For manipulation to be effective,” he once stated, “evidence of its presence must be non-existent.” Hollywood produces an unending array of TV shows and movies which are instruments of the very manipulation Schiller references.

Growing up in Scotland, I, along with my peers, was reared on a cultural diet of Hollywood produced movies and TV shows, conditioned as a result to believe in the mythos of America and the American Dream. It served to instil a desire to move there from an early age, which I eventually did in my early 20s. It is precisely from this dynamic that America has traditionally maintained its status as the most powerful and alluring country in the world.

It was a lie then and it is most assuredly a lie now. The difference is that today we live in a world that has awoken to the…

John Wight

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