Pop Culture

Will Smith’s Popularity Decreased Dramatically Post-Oscars Slap, Study Says

According to recent data, Will Smith‘s popularity with the public plunged after his Oscar slap incident. Per Variety Intelligence Platform, Smith’s Q Score, the industry standard method for measuring Hollywood star’s appeal and popularity, took a nosedive after he took to the stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscar ceremony on March 27th. 

Measured bi-annually every January and July, Q Scores poll 1,800 U.S. consumers ages 6 and up on a celebrity’s popularity, deriving both a positive number and a negative number from the data. With a positive Q Score of 39 in January of 2022, Smith ranked in the top five to 10 most positively ranked actors pre-slap, alongside stars such as Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Smith’s positive Q Score ranking fell from 39 to 24 in July of 2022—the first taken post-slap—which according to Q Scores executive vice president Henry Schafer, is “a very significant and precipitous decline.” Smith’s negative Q score numbers also rose significantly from January to July, further suggesting that he was negatively impacted by the slap. Smith’s negative Q-score more than doubled, from less than 10 to 26. Per Schafer, the average negative Q score is about 16 or 17. 

Jada Pinkett Smith, the target of Rock’s joke which led to her husband Will storming the stage, also found her positive Q score fell and her negative Q score rose after the slap. Her positive Q score fell from 13 to 6, while her negative Q score rose significantly from 29 to 44. Rock, meanwhile, suffered no change to either his positive Q score or negative Q score, remaining at 20 and 14 respectively. However, Rock did see a significant jump in a separate Q score, which measures an actor’s general public awareness, going from 66 to 84. 

The rise and fall of Will Smith’s new Q Scores varied demographically. According to the study, both women and non-Black respondents rated Will more negatively than men and Black respondents. Among men and Black consumers polled, Smith’s negative Q Score rose just nine points, from 7 to 16—reaching the average level for a negative Q Score. However, Smith’s positive Q score fell significantly for both groups: from 49 to 35 among Black respondents and from 35 to 22 with non-Black respondents.

Smith issued a written statement one day after the Oscar slap, apologizing to Rock, the Academy, and “all the attendees and everyone watching around the world.” Later that week, he resigned from the Academy and accepted a 10-year ban from the Academy Awards. In July, he released a mea culpa YouTube video titled “It’s been a minute…” apologizing to Rock, Rock’s family, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson whose Oscar-winning documentary was overshadowed by the slap. Rock has joked about the slap in stand up sets with Dave Chappelle, but reportedly “doesn’t need to talk to Will” about what occurred.    

Despite the magnitude of the slap, Schafer notes Smith’s decline is “not as bad as I’ve seen for other celebrities who have experienced antisocial events,” citing Tiger Woods‘ 2009 infidelity scandal as an example. Still, sometimes Q scores are hard to predict, as Johnny Depp, who recently sat trial on domestic abuse allegations from April to June, and his Q scores were unaffected by the trial, clocking in at an extremely positive 35 in the July update.

It’s unclear whether Smith’s declining Q Score will affect the release of his forthcoming project, the slave drama Emancipation for Apple+. In perhaps a vote of confidence for Smith’s public rehabilitation, the streamer recently decided to forge ahead with a December 2022 theatrical release date for Emancipation, betting that, despite all the drama, audiences will still turn out to see Smith.  

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