The smack heard round-the-world from Will Smith to Chris Rock came on a night when an HBCU product put his stamp on the Oscars.
Florida A&M alumnus and super-producer Will Packer led the first all-black production crew at the Oscars. He has been working on the show since last October, as the Academy brought him in to shake things up. Here’s what he told the LA Times earlier this month.
When I came in, I very pointedly asked the question, “What is on the table from a change perspective? Are there going to be specific limitations on what I can do?” That was the only way I was interested in attacking this challenge, and certainly thinking about a different way to handle the awarding of the categories was one of [the considerations]. I asked, “Is that an option?” And I was told that it was. I was told, “Everything is on the table.”
It’s no secret: Everybody — primarily the academy and ABC — [was] very disappointed [with last year’s ratings]. It’s not a sustainable model, with the level of resources that are put toward this event, to have the level of viewership that we had last year. So they were saying, “Think big. Take swings.” I said, “That’s the only way I know how to think. I don’t take swings — I take wild swings.” And they said, “Well, bring it on.”
The normally-middle-of-the-road awards show featured a performance from Beyonce as well as Megan Thee Stallion. But, by far, the night will be remembered for Will Smith getting his lick back in real time.
“Welp,” Packer tweeted after the show, “I said it wouldn’t be boring.”
Some twitter random took issue with Packer’s light-hearted tweet — which he immediately shut down.
“Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it,” he tweeted. “I don’t feel the need to elucidate that for you. But I also don’t mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.”