How the internet judged #WillandChris

Posted on 5 min.

Examining the online reputation of Will Smith and Chris Rock, we attempt to assess if (and when) they can recover from the shameful events at the Oscars.

It’s been a week since the insulting and slapping incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars. Because of it, the actor and the comedian have had their fair share of even greater than usual online buzz all over the world. But just how much damage did they do to their reputation? Have they been able to recover, or is the black cloud of cancel culture looming over them now?

These are the topics we wanted to investigate when we collected all their public online mentions from Austria, Germany, and Hungary over the past week.

Oscars -freq-2022-04-05


The 28th of March was of course the largest mention peak – the day after the Academy Awards – and then the daily number of mentions gradually diminished (though they still haven’t disappeared). Germans talked the most about them, and then the second highest numbers came from Hungary, especially in the case of Will Smith.


Around 40% of both Chris Rock’s and Will Smith’s mentions had a negative tone in all three countries, while between 15-20% were positive – or, potentially, turning the event into funny memes, as we’ll see.

Oscars -share_of_sentiment-2022-04-05 (1)Oscars -share_of_sentiment-2022-04-05


Perhaps the most revealing chart about the phenomenon is the one showing the serious loss of reputation, as calculated based on Neticle’s sentiment analysis. Not only did their online reputation plummet between the 28th and the 29th of March, but it has also never really recovered after that, either: mentions this week (even though there’s much less of them) are still much more negative than positive, so the overall index has not come up above zero anywhere.

Oscars -daily_woi-2022-04-05


Emotions around the incident were more complicated than positive or negative: our emotion maps show that while disgust and sadness (and sometimes anger) were the most dominant, pleasure and enjoyment also played an important part.

Oscars -emotion_map-2022-04-05Oscars -emotion_map-2022-04-05 (1)


Why is that? Well, the most engaging posts tell the story.


In Germany, the posts that gathered the highest number of interactions were the ones by @tagesschau on Instagram detailing the story – the insult, the slap and the apologies that followed on behalf of Will Smith. After that, it all unfolded on Twitter.


The slap became the single most famous (or rather infamous) event of the Oscars, as this tweet, liked 1.2 million times and retweeted almost 150 thousand times proves.

Everyone wanted to know all the details, from every angle, while others complained that it completely distracted the majority from much nicer and more important happenings, such as Samuel L. Jackson winning his first Oscar. Parodies were filmed at lightning speed, and then the harmless fun began as well, intermixing with pop culture elements.

Unfortunately, some began to blame all of it on Jada Pinkett Smith for not being able to appreciate the joke, while many argued that Will Smith was right to slap Chris Rock for the crude insult. However, the most persevering judgment in the end was that while the joke was totally out of line, violence is never the answer.


Since opinions are not entirely unified, Chris Rock and Will Smith have mostly gotten off lightly and managed to evade cancel culture, but it still definitely stains their reputation in the long term.


Do you also have an impending reputation crisis? Need help with fixing the damage? Get in touch, we'll assess the problem for you and make a suggestion on what you could do about it.



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