"The View" psychoanalyzes Will Smith and debates consequences: "He needs therapy"

Meanwhile, the actor's mother weighs in on her son's actions, and wife Jada Pinkett Smith calls for healing

By Joy Saha

Published March 29, 2022 7:41PM (EDT)

Joy Behar and Will Smith (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images/ABC/Lou Rocco)
Joy Behar and Will Smith (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images/ABC/Lou Rocco)

In the second full day of The Slap discourse, "The View" still has strong opinions about Will Smith, even after the actor publicly apologized to Chris Rock for slapping him live on the Oscars telecast Sunday night after the comedian took a pot-shot at the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The actor went on to win the best actor Oscar for his leading role in "King Richard," a biopic about the father of tennis star Venus and Serena Williams.  

First, a quick look at that apology, which Smith posted on Instagram last Monday:

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.

I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

I am a work in progress.

Sincerely,

Will"

For the most part, the show's panel agrees that Smith's apology was both necessary and commendable.  

"I accept what he said because I know how important it is to have people say, 'I hear you,'" says co-host Whoopi Goldberg. "So, I heard you [Smith] and I'm glad you did it."

Co-host Joy Behar then refers to Smith's 2021 memoir "Will" and reads a brief excerpt where Smith vividly describes the time he witnessed his father punch his mother so hard "that she collapsed and . . . spit blood." Smith, who was just 9 years old at the time, says that was the most defining moment in his life.

Behar clarifies that she's not a psychologist but still tries to offer an explanation for Smith's brash outburst.

RELATED: "If Will Smith was a white guy...": Right-wing Twitter reacts after Chris Rock slapped at Oscars

"It seems to me that that little 9-year-old boy is living in Will Smith," she says, noting that Smith went into defense mode after noticing his wife was visibly uncomfortable by Rock's joke. Behar adds that Rock was "caught up in the crosshairs" of Smith's "transference," which is a phenomenon within psychotherapy where an individual redirects their emotions or feelings about one person to a separate individual.

The psychoanalysis continues with guest co-host Tara Setmayer, who offers a few words of advice from her therapist before presenting another explanation for Smith's behaviors.

"This is also what happens when you see people put their lives on display," she says. "You also welcome in a certain amount of criticism and you have to be able to take care of yourself to handle that. And I think he [Smith] clearly needs to do it." Setmayer continues, stating that Smith should have been immediately removed from the venue after "The Slap." She also believes Smith should have promptly issued an apology after the altercation and emphasizes that he should not face "selective consequences" now.  

"Tara, listen, I'm not excusing the behavior," Behar interjects. "I'm explaining the behavior . . . He needs therapy, maybe."

Co-host Sunny Hostin joins mentions convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein – who was not stripped of his Oscars after he was found guilty of committing criminal sexual assault and third-degree rape – is "not comparable" to Smith's assault, but stresses that he should face consequences but not lose his award.

"There are consequences. There are big consequences, because nobody is OK with what happened," interrupts Goldberg, who is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors. "Nobody, nobody, nobody."

Watch the panel's discussion below, via YouTube

Numerous Hollywood celebrities condemned Smith after Sunday night and asserted that violence is never acceptable in any situation. On Monday, Richard Williams, whom Smith portrays in "King Richard," also criticized the actor.  


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"We don't know all the details of what happened," Williams told NBC News via his son Chavoita LeSane. "But we don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it's in self-defense."

Will Smith's mother, Carolyn Smith, also spoke about the situation, telling Philadelphia's 6 ABC News that she was shocked.

"He is a very even, people-person. That's the first time I've ever seen him go off," Smith said. "First time in his lifetime . . . I've never seen him do that."

Additionally, Pinkett Smith broke her silence about the incident with a brief message on Instagram:

"This is a season for healing and I'm here for it." 

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Joy Saha

Joy Saha is an editorial fellow at Salon, covering Culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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