“Letting people down is my main trauma,” Smith said, facing the camera. “I hate when I let people down. It hurts.”
In the nearly six-minute YouTube video, Smith answered common questions he received after the incident. Did his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, tell him to do it? No. Why didn’t he apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech moments later? It was “a blur”.
At the Oscars, Rock took the stage to introduce the winner of the documentary feature category, but started with a joke. Targeting Jada Pinkett Smith’s very short head, which may be the result of her struggles with alopecia, he said, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it. Smith then strode onto the stage, slapped Rock in the face before returning to his seat where he repeatedly shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Smith issued an apology on social media shortly after the event, but Rock remained largely silent, though he briefly addressed the issue during a standup in March: “I had like a show whole that I wrote before the weekend”, he said according to a Washington Post reporter in the audience. “And I’m still processing what happened. At some point I will talk about it. (A representative for Rock could not immediately be reached for comment.)
The video was a string of apologies – to Rock, to Pinkett Smith, to his family, to the Academy, to Questlove, to his fans, even to Rock’s mother who said during an interview with an NBC affiliate only when [Smith] slapped Chris, he slapped us all. He really slapped me.
There were several moments when Smith seemed to hold back tears, including when he remembered the look in the eyes of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompsonwho received the trophy for best documentary for “Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Couldn’t Be Televised)shortly after the incident. It was Thompson’s first Oscar.
Smith paused slightly to consider his words, “I’m sorry, that’s not really enough.”
To his fans who were disappointed with his actions, he said: “I know it was confusing. I know it was shocking. But I promise you that I am deeply dedicated and committed to bringing light, love and joy in the world. And, you know, if you stick with it, I promise you we can be friends again.
Smith also said he’s determined to do some work on himself — he tries to have “remorse without being ashamed.” Right? I am human. And I made a mistake and I try not to think of myself as a piece of s—.
But according to Smith, Rock still isn’t ready for a face-to-face apology.
“I reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is he’ll contact me,” Smith said. “So I’ll tell you, Chris, I apologize. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.