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FunTimes Magazine

The Culture of Slapping

Apr 12, 2022 11:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian
illustration of man getting slapped by disembodied hand, glasses knocked off

Figure 1 - Culture of slap. Source - Google

A slap's objective is generally to humiliate rather than to damage. The term "slap" is commonly used to downplay the apparent severity of an act, even if the conduct was very harsh. One person may smack another across the face and seriously damage them, yet calling it a slap may make it seem less violent since slapping is commonly associated with small violence. However, in the aftermath of the Oscar catastrophe, “slap” has reverberated throughout the globe in an entirely new manner, sparking a slew of internet disputes. So, let's talk about the significance of the slap in various cultures. 

Various cultures have different perspectives about slapping. Slapping a kid is considered a form of physical abuse in certain countries, such as Iceland, and is banned, although, in others, such as England, it is considered abusive by only a few parents, and even then only somewhat so. Slapping competitions are common in Russian bodybuilding championships, with competitors standing across from one other and exchanging blows until one submits or is knocked out. It was part of the Siberian Power Show, which also featured bodybuilding, powerlifting, dance-offs, and a dumpling eating contest. The face-slapping event seems to be a thing in Russia since a slapping contest was staged during last year's Sarychev Power Expo.

Players in Major League Baseball complement one other with a warm pat on the back, but such is life in baseball's great world. The technique is so ingrained in the sport (and in sports in general) that most players inadvertently engage in it. They give and receive butt pats with little regard for the underlying connotations. What's considerably more difficult to pinpoint is when and where the ass slap first appeared, and how it became a part of the sports lexicon. Baseball players, on the other hand, are credited with creating — or at the very least popularising — the high five. As a statement of sheer, uncontrolled excitement, the high five quickly became a craze. Butt slapping first appears in sports on October 19, 1973, in a Philadelphia Inquirer piece on Penn State football's stoic defensive posture. The Penn State defenders are singled out as anomalies in the story for not slapping each other on the behind.

Figure 2 - A piece from Philadelphia Inquirer. Source - Philadelphia Inquirer

Meanwhile, in the United States, slapping is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. In recent years, probably one of India's most high-profile instances happened when an enraged Delhi businessman called Harvinder Singh hit Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar at a public literary event. As everyone knows, during the inauguration of Charles Soludo as governor of Anambra State on Thursday, the wife of departing Governor Willie Obiano, Ebelechukwu, was slapped by Bianca Ojukwu. Mrs. Ojukwu is the wife of the Biafran leader, late Odumegwu Ojukwu, who died in 2009. The incident happened soon after Mr. Soludo took his oath of office, according to the event.

Almost 48 hours after the Academy Awards ceremony last Sunday, one scene from the show has stayed in the forefront, prompting endless talk and heated debate: Will Smith hitting Chris Rock. Some Hollywood leaders, commentators, and fans have defended Smith, claiming that he was only protecting his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, after Rock made a crude remark about her shaved head. Others have harshly condemned the outburst, asking worries about its impact on domestic abuse survivors, the message it may convey about violence, and if the whole incident was a display of toxic masculinity. And these are just a few of the passionate emotions and complex problems that have been highlighted.

Figure 3 - Will Smith and Chris Rock Slap. Source - Google

Read about Jada Pinkett Smith's condition:
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Regardless of how people feel about the slap, the various reactions shared have fueled conversations that don't always take place in public spaces, and with this incident, these conversations will continue because, while slap incidents and practices are ingrained in the culture, collectively it becomes an opportunity to ask the question, what kind of behavior is okay or not okay?

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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