Pretend you're Will Smith's publicist, and fix it.
What would you have done? Besides "go to the bar and order a martini" I want you to put on your white hat and be Olivia Pope and FIX IT.
I would have...
Pulled him from the ceremony the moment the slap happened. During commercial brake, he and Jada would have quietly leave and two seat fillers would have gotten the best spots in the house. I would have waited until Best Actor was announced and released a statement as a normal, gracious, and thankful acceptance speech. In this statement, I would not have one OUNCE of reference to the slap, Chris Rock, or anything that occurred that evening. As if he was out of town — sends his regrets, but is thankful. (Does it suck he's waited his whole life for this? Yeah... but also, don't hit people. Now you have to share a lame written-out statement acceptance speech.)
Separately, I would have released a statement that apologized to the academy, to the nominees, the Williams family, and to Rock ofc. I would have made this very heartfelt and made sure it fully accepted responsibility. I would NOT have conflated love with violence. I'd be a dog with the tail between the legs and said something like, "I am embarrassed by my actions tonight. I want to apologize blah blah blah. This is not representative of who I am, which is why I removed myself from the ceremony so it did not damper the evening. I hope to move forward and will continue to reflect on my actions in the coming days."
THIS IS BECAUSE... Will's speech — which will live on forever — will now always be linked to the slap. The question is: Do you want the Slap to be part of the conversation forever, or would you rather just not get to physically accept your Oscar? Personally, from a PR perspective, I think the latter is more ideal. Separating the two instances — the win, and the slap — felt like the only appropriate thing in my mind. I also would make sure there were NO JOKES HAPPENING on social media by anyone with the last name Smith. Jaden, you're grounded.