At the Russian premiere of “Men in Black III” in Moscow, actor Will Smith found himself the recipient of some unexpected attention. A Ukranian reporter, posing as a fan, walked up to Smith, hugged him, and kissed him on the cheeks. When he tried to kiss Smith on the lips, apparently he crossed a line, because Smith pushed him back and slapped him on the face, asking “What the hell is your problem, buddy?” A few seconds later, he explained to onlookers nearby, “He tried to kiss me on my mouth.” He added, “This joker, he’s lucky I didn’t sucker punch him.” Here’s the video:
The reporter, Vitalii Sediuk, is apparently known for playing pranks on celebrities, including kissing his interview subjects.
Some online have criticized Smith’s response to the incident as homophobic, despite the fact that Smith has recently come out publicly in support of gay marriage. On Twitter, the incident provoked some critical statements, including:
“Looks like the homophobe inside came out of Will Smith for a sec.”
“Will Smith may have come out in support of gay marriage but his reaction today was really homophobic.”
“The whole Will Smith slapping event was a little homophobic, macho & weird.”
“Will Smith, we don’t need your ‘trendy’ support of same sex marriage if you’re faking it.”
“Will Smith slapped a man because he wanted to kiss him … EXCELLENT! YOU ARE THE KING OF THE ANTI-GAY!”
Of course, there are plenty of others who are puzzled by this response, wondering if “Now you have to kiss men to prove you aren’t anti-gay?” And I agree that responding poorly to a member of the same sex invading your physical space isn’t necessarily homophobic – and if Smith had pushed away a strange woman trying to kiss him, that wouldn’t be proof that he was a misogynist. Uninvited physical affection shouldn’t be seen as anything other than sexual harassment (or, if you’re being less charitable, sexual assault). I have a hard time feeling sympathy for anyone who tries to pull this kind of stunt as someone who’s been on the receiving end of similar, albeit lower-profile, behavior.
It’s probably true Smith might not have reacted so badly to a female reporter trying to kiss him, and there’s room for debate about whether shoving and slapping Sediuk was out of line. But it’s disingenuous to argue that it’s homophobic for someone to get upset about being kissed on the mouth by random stranger. No matter the gender of the participants, it’s aggressive and inappropriate behavior.
What do Care2 readers think after seeing the video? Was Smith overreacting? Or was his response appropriate?
Photo credit: YouTube screen capture