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Oscars, Controversial Since 1929

Let's be honest: the Academy Awards have been contentious since their inception

A man slapping another man
Credit: CNN

During the 94th-annual Academy Awards ceremony, actor Will Smith walked onto the stage and slapped Oscar presenter Chris Rock. The action came after Rock made a joke referencing Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Shortly thereafter, Smith resigned from the Academy. Then, the actor was banned from attending all Academy functions for 10 years.

There's no doubt this 2022 Oscars event was controversial. And startling. And damning. And lots of other words we could put here.

But honestly, the Oscars have been controversial since they began in 1929.


The first Academy Award doled out was for Best Actor. That statue went to Emil Jannings (below) who won for his work in two films: The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command.

But the real winner in 1929 — or the individual with the most votes — was actually an 11-year-old German Shepherd named Rin Tin Tin.

Rin Tin Tin (pictured below) was one of the most popular stars in Hollywood at the time, having already appeared in 20 films.

Watch our video below to learn, first, why the Academy gave Jannings an award over Rin Tin Tin and second, why this decision, looked at through the long lens of history, backfires spectacularly.

Again, ever since the first ceremony in 1929, in some way or another, the Oscars have sparked controversy.


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