Of all the embarrassing things we expected to see on March 27 at the 2022 Oscars, Will Smith slapping Chris Rock wasn't one of them. And, like all headline-dominating celebrity scandals, Smith's slap has already been tied to a conspiracy theory.
So, in case you mercifully avoided the news cycle for the past 48 hours, you know that Smith marched on stage after Rock told a joke about alopecia aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith's wife who has the hair-loss condition.
Smith apologized via an Instagram post in the evening of March 28, extending the mea culpa beyond Rock to the entire Academy Awards and even his peers on King Richard the film that Smith starred in that helped him scoop the Best Actor Oscar later in the ceremony.
"I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be," Smith said, in part, in the caption. "There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."
But enough rationality: here's where the conspiracy theories come in.
Die-hard followers of former US President Donald Trump and/or the many splintering Qanon-adjacent conspiracy schemes (a little from column A, a little from column B) often reframe current events with a bizarre perspective free from actual logic but heavy on the special sauce of any good conspirator: coincidences.
Q-sympathetic Telegram channels, forums, TikTokers, and Twitter users considered that Will Smith's Chris Rock slap was some kind of government cover-up for secret Guantanamo Bay-related trials of high-profile politicians or proof of the Oscars making up fake drama for ratings (which is probably the sanest idea coming out of these camps).
But the most baffling belief is that, somehow, Smith's slap was used to drum up support for some new Pfizer alopecia drug.
According to some utter BS tweeted and TikTok'd by conspiratorial anti-vaxxers on March 27, Smith's slap was a secret plan by Oscars sponsor Pfizer to drum up widespread interest in alopecia before it submitted its latest chemical cocktail for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This is, of course, insanely dumb.
Facts first: Pfizer was indeed one of the Oscars co-sponsors and one of its subsidiaries, Arena, is developing a treatment called "etrasimod" (spelled all-lowercase).
But that's about it. Arena had long been developing etrasimod before it was acquired by Pfizer in March 2022 and Pfizer made it clear that it wanted etrasimod to compete with Bristol Myers Squibb's Zeposia.
Plus, etrasimod isn't an alopecia wonderdrug. It's an oral supplement being developed as a possible longterm treatment for immuno-inflammatory diseases.
Yes, alopecia areata, which Jada Pinkett Smith has, is one such disease, but so is Crohn’s Disease and eosinophilic esophagitis.
On top of that, Pfizer isn't filing etrasimod with the FDA any time soon: etrasimod only just passed its Phase 3 trial last week and another study will be released later this week.
The FDA submission, which doesn't have a date on it, will be judged in "a scientific setting" so it doesn't matter what the public does or doesn't think about alopecia.
Another thing that people are leaving out: the slew of other Oscars sponsors.
I guess all the other sponsors weren't invited to the shadowy backroom deal wherein Pfizer negotiated with the Oscars' enigmatic dark lords or else Rock might've been slapped for jokes about cryptocurrency or, uh, wi-fi?
Them's the facts, folks.
Boring? Sure. But the reality usually is. Life isn't about thrilling investigative explorations to uncover grand conspiracy theories. Sometimes a guy just loses his temper and takes it out in front of the world.
Plus, if this was Pfizer's grand scheme, wouldn't it have left its giant logo off the Oscars broadcast so geniuses like these wouldn't put the pieces together?
Finally, look, I have no sympathy for Big Pharma either, but can't we complain about the evil things they actually do?