Living between the USA and Spain has certain advantages. One of them is being able to watch events at more reasonable hours and live, as happened to me yesterday at the Oscar Gala. I am in love with cinema, it is one of my great passions and the Oscars is an event that I have always followed. Yesterday we were left with the joy of the Oscar for Alberto Mielgo, with the regret that neither Javier Bardem nor Penélope Cruz won another statuette, with the flavor of Latin music, with a more diverse gala than ever and with the Will Smith incident. The scene was not seen on U.S. television as clearly as it has been seen and heard in Spain. What’s more, there was a kind of image cut, in which it was not clear what was happening.
From what I observed yesterday, I doubt very much that it was something prepared. The non-verbal language gives it away: his wife’s face when Chris Rock made the bad joke, Will Smith’s gestures (which was silenced in the United States) from his seat and what happened afterwards, when he went up to collect the award, which was a sea of tears.
Our brain is prepared for survival and certain automatisms are awakened despite the circumstances.
It is clear that both Will Smith and Chris Rock were tremendously unfortunate. There are jokes that hurt too much (besides, it seems that it was raining on the wet). And there are overreactions and maximum reactions at certain times. But that’s how people are. We have our brain prepared for survival and certain automatisms are awakened despite the context in which we are. I highly doubt there would have been much conversation between Will Smith’s wife and him, there wasn’t time for it. It is, therefore, a powerful example of the spring in all of us that can be awakened at the most unexpected moments. It is an instinct, in which the amygdala, guardian of our emotions, is inflamed by something, a word, a gesture, and takes control of the brain. It is not reasoned. The neocortex is sequestered and only attacks, freezes or flees. In this case, Will Smith attacked in front of the eyes of millions of people.
The motives must be sought in our evolution: it has the objective of defending us or defending our own, or as Smith verbalized when he picked up the statuette in cross reference to the film and what happened, to protect the family.
What we all saw is an example of what can happen to any of us in other contexts, with other responses and in moments of tension and with deep wounds that are suddenly activated by something. In itself, it is a ridiculous act, which then awakens shame (another innate emotion) and which Smith must have felt minutes later, when the amygdala is deflated and the blood reaches the neocortex more fluidly. Such are our primal instincts. Now, with time and coolness, it is time to repair the mistake on both sides, because this is what differentiates us from other animals: the possibility to reflect on our mistakes, to heal wounds so that they do not become a sieve of uncontrolled responses and to learn to control the madwoman of the brain, our old and necessary amygdala.