In a blistering Twitter thread Wednesday, “Summer of Soul” co-producer Joseph Patel, who shared the film’s Best Documentary Feature Oscar win, bluntly called out Will Smith and Chris Rock not only for The Slap, which he said was “selfish,” but also for comments Rock made in announcing the “Summer of Soul Win.
“You absolute f—ing d—,” Patel said about Rock.
“Summer of Soul” had the misfortune of winning Best Documentary Feature immediately after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, an incident that overshadowed almost everything that came after it, and for which Patel criticized Smith.
Patel also specifically called out Chris Rock for how he announced the “Summer of Soul” winners as Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (the film’s director), “and…4 white guys.” Patel cited both the disrespect shown by not reading the Oscar winners’ names, as well as the fact that he, himself is of South Asian descent. He also noted that the film had 3 producers, not 4.
“First, I’ve been drunk with joy the last few days for me and my team and our Oscar win. So many of you – IRL friends, internet friends, acquaintances, colleagues, old homies and new – have shown love and support and genuine excitement for our achievement,” Patel said.
“It’s taken me a few days to process everything,” he continued. “Still sort of processing it. Once we realized the Chris Rock/Will Smith interaction wasn’t a bit, everything got turned upside down. Everyone was still trying to make sense of it when Chris persevered & started to read the nominees.”
“I think what Will did was selfish. It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs,” Patel said. “And it robbed Summer of Soul and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film.”
“I feel bad for Ahmir. I feel bad for my fellow producers. I feel bad for our whole team,” Patel said. “I feel bad for all the people watching and rooting for us. We were in shock walking to the stage -not because of winning but because we, too, were still trying to make sense of what happened.”
“Then Will hugs Ahmir and daps me up. I didn’t even know it was happening in the moment. Still in shock. (Ahmir handled the moment with grace, giving a speech from the heart. It was beautiful to see. I’m so deeply moved by how much he has grown in the last few years.),” Patel added.
“What I didn’t hear in that moment walking to stage but was told of afterwards is what Chris Rock said when reading our name from the winner’s card – The winner is “Summer of Soul…Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and…4 white guys.” WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F—?????” Patel said.
Patel explained that the reason this enraged him is that “I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award,” and one of 3 South Asian Oscar winners that night. “That’s never happened before! And it’s meaningful! It’s history!” he said.
“So with my family and friends watching, Chris Rock lumped me in as 1 of “4 white guys.” (Nevermind the disrespect to @d2films and @fyvo for not even saying their names, and the inaccuracy of us being 3 producers not 4),” Patel continued.
Patel clarified that the problem isn’t the jokes themselves. “I’m a big boy – I can take a joke. Comedians make jokes,” he said. “But not in that moment. What a s—-y, disrespectful thing to do. AND HERE’S THE THING…It wasn’t that Chris Rock was under stress. He made the same joke the night before on stage at the Roots Jam!”
“So I’m angry. Angry at Will Smith. Angry at Chris Rock. Angry for me. Angry for Ahmir. Angry for my fellow filmmakers.”
Patel lamented that he still hasn’t watched the ceremony since winning, despite having it saved in his DVR. “I probably never will. Thank you, Chris – You absolute f—ing d—.
Patel did say that he knows “that what happened with the ceremony and the achievement of winning an Oscar will separate over time. And truly, like I said earlier, I’m living in a place of absolute joy over what we did.”
But, he said, “what both Will AND Chris did really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us.”
Read the full thread here.