Will Smith resigns from Academy after Oscars slap

Actor Will Smith has resigned from Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after slapping presenter Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony, Variety reported, citing a statement from the actor.

"I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work," Smith's statement said.

"So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate," the statement added.

Can the Will Smith slap live on stage force the Oscars to change their ways?

It was a shocking moment of live television: an acclaimed actor, there to receive one of the cinematic world's most prestigious awards, slapping a fellow performer.

So unbelievable was the scene at the 94th Academy Awards that many commentators jumped to the conclusion it had been a crude publicity stunt, designed to draw in viewers to a flailing award show.

The fact audio of the exchange was cut on American broadcasts fuelled speculation. But when the uncensored footage from Australia and Japan began circulating, there was no question about what the world had just watched.

"Keep my wife's name out of your f---ing mouth," actor Will Smith shouted at presenter Chris Rock from his front-row seat after walking down from the stage. The catalyst? A joke at Jada Pinkett Smith's expense, mocking her shaved head despite her public battle with alopecia - an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

The display has unsurprisingly prompted reflection from those involved.

Smith quickly issued a tearful apology to his fellow nominees and the Academy, and a day later, to Rock. The Academy announced they had launched a formal review into the incident.

Rock declined to press charges, but refused to comment further even as his joke was dissected. "I'm still kind of processing what happened … at some point I'll talk about that s-t," he told a comedy show audience in Boston.

Meanwhile, Pinkett Smith took to Instagram with a simple message: "This is a season for healing and I'm here for it." There was no mention of the incident or Rock's jibe.

But the ripples from the slap, and the joke that led to it, are likely to reverberate across Hollywood, an industry that has for years been trying to recover from allegations of misogyny, racism and sexual harassment.

Already, we've seen much commentary trying to make sense of the slap's significance - and what should follow. The analysis, often far removed from the act itself, spans the complicated intersection of male violence, sexism, racism, and ableism, and Hollywood's role in allowing much of this to go unchecked in its ranks for decades.

But unlike what goes on behind closed doors, in casting rooms and in the deliberations of award shows, this happened on television for the world to see, leaving many wondering if it will reignite debate over the industry's failings.

If it is indeed a season for healing, as Pinkett Smith says, how Hollywood responds to what happened this week will need to be just the beginning.