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Well, those kooky Smith kids, the progeny of Will and Jada
Pinkett Smith, sure have upset the Internet apple cart, haven’t they? They are all over my social media feeds
today, trending on Facebook and finding themselves on the receiving end of
a whole lot of cyber mockery.
I think we can all agree that the Smith kiddos, 14-year-old
Willow and 16-year-old Jayden, have some hardcore, seriously healthy
self-esteem. They love themselves! They
love their thoughts, their music, their energy. Their voices, combined, sound
like chocolate tastes. Mmmmm, good!
Why would any of us expect anything different from two
teenagers raised since birth in extreme privilege? Their parents are huge celebrities and
monster money earners. I know nothing
about the child rearing of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but my guess is that they value
expression, creativity and progressive thinking – things their children
delivered on with abandon in a recent New York Times interview.
I’m struggling today because I see so many adults getting in
on the mocking action. People I like and
admire taking time out of their day to mock two teenagers, who live lives that
would be hard for most of us to imagine let alone relate to.
Young Willow and Jayden were set up nice and pretty by
interviewer Su Wu. She edited that
interview knowing perfectly well how the
teens would be received in our social-media coliseum of tearing people apart,
limb from limb, for sport. My guess is
that the quotes given, the interview as it appears, is an accurate
representation of what was said. Can we
please remember, though, who was doing the saying?
Children like Willow and Jayden can wax poetic about the
insignificance of time, “unlocking honesty” for the whole world, source energy,
and their artistic journeys (though, truth be told, I can’t imagine anything
less interesting than the "artistic journey" of a 14-year-old), because they are
wealthy, exist in an orbit that celebrates them and have been taught to love
and value themselves and their creations above all else.
Many parents would consider that a success.
What seems clear about their life philosophies and thoughts
in general are that young Willow and Jayden have very little access to the
lives of most working people, just as most working people have very little
access to the lives of the truly privileged. Hence, the invitation to mock that
which is different and unfamiliar.
It is easy to mock them, poke fun at their pretentiousness and immaturity, but why? What is gained in doing that?
My personal theory is that much of what was said and
discussed by the Smith kids sounds like canned Scientology rhetoric. The teens posit that “babies remember,” and
they are shocked by the harshness of the world they enter at birth. School is inauthentic because it ends and
learning must always continue. Those
kinds of notions are Scientology 101. (Full disclosure, Will Smith has denied being a follower of Scientology,
despite numerous financial donations and opening a school which relied on
Scientology values being taught. The
school has since closed.)
The interview quotes are full of self-importance, teen
rebellion and a complete lack of empathy for others living a life more
burdened by pesky things like clocks and schedules and bills and homework. If you don’t like the music you hear, record
your own! If you don’t like the novels
you read, write your own! It is easy to
mock them, poke fun at their pretentiousness and immaturity, but why? What is gained in doing that?
It’s an ugly quality in so many of us these days, the
mocking, the tearing apart, the easy take-down. Hell, I did it myself early in my online blogging days and garnered
quite a few fans that way (Sorry, Gwyneth!).
Long story short, they’re talented and bright and gorgeous
and silly kids full of loads of confidence and, admittedly, perhaps overly
healthy self-esteem reserves. Reading
the interview, and I’m dating myself now, was a bit like watching Brandon Walsh
on "90210" back in the day. Brandon always
had the answers, he was cooler and smarter and wiser than the adults around him,
and was the voice of authority in every situation.
Willow and Jayden Smith live in a world they command that
celebrates them universally. If you feel
a need to take them down a peg or two, or mock them for the life clues they
lack, well, methinks that says more about you than about a couple of privileged
celebrity teens that are too busy writing novels and recording albums and
climbing mountains to give one damn fig what you think.