What you missed in Columbus for March 28

An unscripted moment at the Oscars; Ukraine pleads for help; USMNT one step closer to World Cup; John Oliver explores the fentanyl exposure overdose myth

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
AFP_32743DH.jpg TOPSHOT - US actor Will Smith (R) slaps US actor Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his criticism of the U.S. and its western allies over the weekend, calling for a tougher stance against Russia, including a full embargo on Russian oil and gas exports and more weapons support. “I’ve talked to the defenders of Mariupol today,” Zelensky said in Sunday's video address. “Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing. ... If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had one percent of their courage.”

On Saturday, President Joe Biden's ad-libbed comments at the end of a speech in Warsaw, Poland, caused a stir. "For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Vladimir Putin, a statement that sounded a lot like the president was advocating for regime change in Russia. The Washington Post reports that Biden's words came as a surprise to U.S. officials, one of whom clarified Biden's position, saying, "The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change."

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America being America, you may or may not have heard a thing or two about Ukraine over the weekend, but there's no doubt a headline about the Oscars has made its way to your news feed.

For starters, Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man to win an acting Oscar for his role in “CODA," which also won best picture for its story about a Child Of Deaf Adults. ("CODA" was the top pick of Alive critic Brad Keefe, who also predicted the win.) And Jane Campion won the Academy Award for Best Director for her film "Power of the Dog," making her only the third woman to win the category (and the first to be nominated twice). Normally, those significant wins would be the main takeaways. Instead, the 2022 Oscars will forever be remembered as the night Will Smith smacked Chris Rock in the face.

Before Rock introduced nominees for Best Documentary, he made a joke about Jade Pinkett Smith and "G.I. Jane 2," a reference to the actress' close-cropped hair. (Recently, Pinkett-Smith went public about her hair loss due to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder.) At first, Pinkett's husband, actor Will Smith, smiled along with the joke, but then shocked the audience by walking onto the stage and hitting Rock in the face. "Wow," Rock said. "Will Smith just smacked the sh*t out of me." As the TV audio feed went silent, Smith returned to his seat and repeatedly cursed at Rock, yelling at him to keep Pinkett Smith's name out of his mouth.

Not long after the incident, Smith took the Oscar stage again, this time to receive the award for Best Actor for his titular role in "King Richard," a biopic of Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy while also comparing his actions to Richard Williams, "a fierce defender of his family." "Love will make you do crazy things," Smith said.

As you might expect, the internet response to this entire conflict has been reasonable, level-headed and respectful of all parties involved.

Here's my Monday morning slap-heard-round-the-world takeaway, the hottest of hot takes: You never know what someone else might be going through, things they hide with a smile. So maybe hold the joke that could potentially cut a little too close to the bone. And dads? You absolutely should love and protect your family. But that call is not a violence license. Also, Oscar presenters rarely write their own jokes.

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Last night the U.S. men's national soccer team defeated Panama 5-1 in Orlando in the latest World Cup qualifying match, which featured a hat trick from American star Christian Pulisic. The USMNT will face Costa Rica in the final qualifying match on Wednesday, and as long as the Americans don't lose by six goals, the U.S. will be playing in Qatar later this year.

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John Oliver must have been reading Alive columnist Jack Shuler, who wrote about the fentanyl exposure overdose myth last month. Last night, on the fifth episode of "Last Week Tonight," Oliver delved into the baseless claim that merely touching fentanyl can lead to an overdose.