Summer of Soul co-producer Joseph Patel isn’t holding his tongue. On Wednesday, the filmmaker tweeted about the Slapgate moment between Chris Rock and Will Smith, which happened moments before Summer of Soul won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
“I think what Will did was selfish,” Patel said in a since-deleted tweet. “It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs. And it robbed Summer of Soul and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film.”
Patel went on to criticize Rock for dismissing the Summer of Soul team as “Amir Thompson and four white guys.” Patel is South Asian while co-producers David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent are both white. Earlier in the night, South Asian actors Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia won an Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action).
“The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award,” Patel tweeted. “I’m a big boy — I can take a joke. Comedians make jokes. But not in that moment. What a shitty, disrespectful thing to do… What both Will AND Chris did really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us.”
Patel has since deleted his Twitter thread.
The New York Times has reported that Will Smith was asked to leave the ceremony following the incident, which he refused.
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” The Academy said in a statement, also announcing that disciplinary proceedings against Smith have been initiated. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
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