Will Smith Is Thriving on Social Media Despite Reports That His Popularity Decreased Dramatically Post-Oscars Slap

According to recent data, Will Smith’s popularity with the public plunged after his Oscars slap incident. Per Variety Intelligence Platform, Smith’s Q Score, the one-time industry standard method for measuring Hollywood stars’ appeal and popularity, indeed took a nosedive after he took to the stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony on March 27.

Measured biannually every January and July, Q Scores poll 1,800 US consumers ages six and up on a celebrity’s popularity, deriving both a positive number and a negative number from the data. With a positive Q Score of 39 in January of 2022, Smith had ranked in the top five or top 10 most positively ranked actors pre-slap, which, Q Scores executive vice president Henry Schafer told Variety, put him alongside stars such as Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington*.* Smith’s positive Q Score ranking fell from 39 to 24 in July of 2022—the first taken post-slap—which Schafer said was “a very significant and precipitous decline.” Smith’s negative Q Score numbers also rose significantly from January to July, further suggesting that he was negatively impacted by the slap. Smith’s negative Q Score more than doubled, from less than 10 to 26. Per Schafer, the average negative Q Score is about 16 or 17.

Jada Pinkett Smith, the target of Rock’s joke that led to her husband storming the stage, also found her positive Q Score fall and her negative Q Score rise after the slap. Her positive Q Score fell from 13 to six, while her negative Q Score rose significantly from 29 to 44. Rock, meanwhile, suffered no change to either his positive Q Score or negative Q Score, remaining at 20 and 14, respectively. However, Rock did see a significant jump in a separate Q Score, which measures an actor’s general public awareness, going from 66 to 84.

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The rise and fall of Will Smith’s new Q Scores varied demographically. According to the study, both women and non-Black respondents rated him more negatively than men and Black respondents. Among men and Black consumers polled, Smith’s negative Q Score rose just nine points, from seven to 16—reaching the average level for a negative Q Score, according to Variety. However, Smith’s positive Q Score fell significantly for both groups: from 49 to 35 among Black respondents and from 35 to 22 with non-Black respondents.

However, there’s an argument to be made that Q Scores are no longer the measure of success that they once were. In the October article from the Washington Post, “Whatever Happened to the Almighty Q Score?,” writer Travis M. Andrews dissects whether Q scores—once the standard bearer for Hollywood popularity—still hold the same weight that they used to in the age of social media. “But today’s fractured media landscape, increasingly ruled by social media influencers and niche interests, has threatened to turn the Q Score into an artifact,” writes Andrews. After going radio silent on social media for a few months post the Oscar debacle, Smith has recently begun to post both earnest and promotional material again to his 63.6 million Instagram followers, receiving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of likes on his videos and posts. This prompts the question, with millions of likes flowing in, how seriously does Hollywood still take the Q Score determined by a relatively small sample size of 1800 people?