Will Smith was not at the Oscars on Sunday. The "Concussion" star boycotted the ceremony in response to the lack of diversity in the nominees and in Hollywood at large. However, that did not keep him safe from some of the night's most searing jokes. In fact, he was a target all night.
The fun at Smith's expense began during host Chris Rock's opening monologue. Rock poked fun at both Smith and his wife, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith. Rock chided the couple for boycotting the Oscars, an act Rock joked amounted to a protest over nothing.
"Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. ... I wasn’t invited," joked Rock, in a bit of a tone-deaf moment. "That’s not an invitation I’d turn down."
Soon, though, Rock turned his attention to Smith.
"People say it’s not fair that he did such a good job [in "Concussion"] and didn’t get nominated," Rock said. "It’s also not fair that he got $20 million for 'Wild Wild West.'"
Later, Smith was a target again, this time from iconic Oscar nominee Angela Bassett. Rock introduced a video narrated by Bassett that purported to call attention to the Oscars' past recognition of "black" film history. Bassett teased the crowd with the filmography of a notable "black" actor that included "Enemy of the State" and "Shark Tale." However, instead of naming Will Smith as the subject of the tribute video, Bassett named white comedian Jack Black.
Watch the fake-out tribute video in the tweet below:
— ABC Network (@ABCNetwork) February 29, 2016
Even a fictional character mentioned Smith. Presenting best picture nominee "Room," comedian Sacha Baron Cohen assumed his "Ali G" persona from the early 2000s comedy "Da Ali G Show." Ali G, a white rapper who is convinced he is black, told the crowd he was there to represent "his people," including Smith.
Though he was not even in the room, Smith certainly had a huge presence Sunday.