Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was criticized after declaring that she "appreciates" actor Will Smith's "alpha male" response to a joke made by presenter Chris Rock during Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast.
Greene admitted that she did not watch the event but nonetheless insisted that Smith, who assaulted Rock on camera in what appeared to be a move to defend his wife, the actress Jada Pinkett Smith, following a crass joke from the comedian about his wife's baldness, was in the right.
Greene said she can "appreciate the Alpha male response of a husband defending his wife."
She added the two men had not only "settled" the matter but Rock had "handled it like a man with no whining."
Alpha males are those at the top of the social status hierarchy and the term has been used to refer to a dominant person or their behavior, especially with respect to socially aggressive, hyper-masculine men.
However, the myth of the alpha male, which posits that the strongest male leads the wolf pack, has long been discredited. Wolf packs do not actually have alpha males and alpha females and the suggestion that they do dates back to an altogether flawed 1947 study of wolves in captivity.
Greene has also long endorsed violence against her political opponents and has previously been stripped of her committee assignments after she made anti-Semitic remarks and promoted violence against Democrats. She recently made headlines after she referred to transgender people as a "perversion" and advocated for them to be beaten "into the ground"
Greene was swiftly criticized for what many of her critics saw as her further normalizing violence.
Smith has faced heavy criticism following his assault of Rock, who has declined to press charges. Video of the incident, which many stunned viewers initially believed had been scripted, has been viewed millions of times.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has condemned Smith's actions and announced it will conduct a formal review of the matter "in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
It remains to be seen whether the controversy will cost Smith the Academy Award for Best Actor that he won for his starring role in King Richard.