The buildup to the now-infamous Oscars slap has reportedly been brewing for more than two decades. As people on social media rummaged through Chris Rock’s past with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, an old video of the comedian burning Pinkett Smith resurfaced. This feud dates back to 1997 and is much deeper than just the Oscars jokes in 2016 and 2022.
The Daily Beast reports the jabs date back to The Chris Rock Show, a five-season HBO series that aired in the late 1990s. Rock was in the middle of Season 2 of his late-night talk show when he targeted the bride-to-be in October 1997, just before Will and Jada married and, ironically, just after G.I. Jane was released.
In a clip from the show, Rock says, “Million Women March was on last week in Philadelphia. I talked to Ice Cube, he called it ‘Bitches by the Bell,’ I didn’t say it! Ice Cube said it. And Too Short said it too!” He continued, “You know, at the Million Women March, there were moving speeches from people like Maxine Waters, Winnie Mandela, and here are some inspirational words from the lovely Jada Pinkett.” However, instead of her actual speech, Rock cuts to an edit of Pinkett saying “I am here today because this is an act of power, women. Okay?” then cuts quickly to her screaming the lyrics to “The Roof Is on Fire.”
Before the G.I Jane joke that resulted in the slap heard around the world, Rock also made a joke at Pinkett Smith’s expense at the 2016 Oscars. As she was boycotting the event for racial equality, Rock said “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties, I wasn’t invited.”