Comedian Chris Rock is at the center of another controversy. These days, Rock is perhaps most associated with the infamous incident at the Oscars when he was slapped by actor Will Smith over a joke told about the Best Actor Oscar winner’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Though he’s publicly stayed quiet about the situation for the most part, Rock has been occasionally joking about the Oscars slap at some of his stand-up comedy shows.
Recently, Rock made headlines again when he said on stage in Phoenix that he’d been invited by the Academy to host the Oscars next years. Rock said he refused the offer and compared it to returning to the scene of a crime, joking that it would be like asking Nicole Brown Simpson to “go back to the restaurant” where she left her eyeglasses. In 1994, Simpson was murdered along with her friend, Ronald Goldman, with her ex-husband O.J. Simpson famously going to trial for the double homicide. Goldman had apparently been attacked while dropping off glasses Simpson had forgotten at the restaurant where he worked.
Though nearly three decades have passed, the brutal double-murder is still a very sensitive subject for the families of the victims. Tanya Brown, Nicole Brown Simpson’s sister, spoke with TMZ about Rock’s joke. Brown says that the “unfunny” joke doesn’t even make sense, as it’s apples to oranges to compare a “gruesome double homicide” to getting slapped at the Oscars. Beyond the attempt at humor, Brown also says the joke was distasteful and “offensive to the extended family,” arguing that it was gratuitous. By speaking out, what Brown hopes is that Rock and other comedians who might joke about her sister keep in mind that there are “still surviving family members who are still dealing with her loss to this day.”
For Brown, she doesn’t understand why Rock couldn’t have used any other analogy to make his point rather than falling back upon the horrific murders of her sister and Goldman. There are some who agree with Brown on this who might suggest that Rock deserved the Oscars slap in light of his offensive comments. Brown doesn’t go that far, not wanting to see Rock harmed for the comments, but she does day that comedians should be held accountable for what they say.
Indeed, that was a point echoed by some who took Will Smith’s side during the Oscars controversy. While it seemed most people found the violence to be unacceptable, there had been others suggesting that Rock brought it upon himself by telling jokes about Smith’s wife. In any case, despite a public apology from Smith, Rock has not mended any bridges with the actor, nor is he finished with his controversial material.