A few weeks ago, 14-year old Willow, and 16-year-old Jaden Smith, gave an interview with the New York Times' T Magazine. In it, they discussed their disdain for the school system (they are both home educated), prana energy, meditation, and a slew of other unique topics that are usually only discussed under the influence of a couple of blotter tabs.
While their opinions and points of view may be considered radical to your average, middle-of-the-road, non-artistic, uninspired, boring, Two and Half Men watching, Republican voting “Real American”, none of their beliefs are really that out of the line with your run-of-the-mill new age leftist. They are far from the first people to ever muse upon a connection between quantum physics and spirituality. And they won't be the last.
But, like a cat with a calculator, the general public didn't even attempt to try and understand them, and simply wrote them off as lunatics. Billboard called them “Bonkers”… HollywoodLife called them “Bizarre”… Yahoo called them “Crazy”… Social media gave them an inordinate amount of stick for the interview—the fact that grown ups were chastising the philosophical beliefs of teenagers was a little disturbing.
But, let's get this clear—nothing that they said in that interview was “crazy”. A little eccentric? Maybe. A little pseudo-sciency? Sure. But crazy? No. Calling people crazy because you don't understand them is dismissive and ignorant, and I would expect better from legitimate publications (actually, let me take that back, no I wouldn't).
Making fun of a 14-year-old because she's slightly wrong about an extremely complicated topic is pedantic, and it honestly felt like people were simply trying to belittle the kids and knock them off their perch. Congratulations, you know more about the world than a child. Would you like a cookie?
We have a tendency to respond negatively to people with high self esteems. People who are sure of themselves make the adult cynic believe that they are full of shit. But that's not the case here; these kids are some of the most privileged kids on earth, who grew up with an education catered specifically to their needs, and open access to anything and everything they wanted to learn. But, isn't that the dream? Day in and day out we complain about how broken our social system is, yet when you have kids who grow up outside of that, we make fun of them anyway because they aren't as flawed and jagged as we are.
The only thing that makes a person sane is if their opinion is in the majority. There was a time on this earth when the idea of a round earth was “insane”. Let's stop writing people off because they have unique views. Especially children. All you're doing is knocking the creativity out of them, so that they too become lifeless drones who will die unfulfilled and unhappy.
You have two kids—two black kids—who don't curse in their music, don't abuse drugs, don't talk about violence or overt misogyny, and approach life with an open mind. And what do we do? We tear them down anyway.
So honestly, when these same people turn around and chastise other black artists for their content, or lack thereof, it really makes me wonder whether you hate the content, or you just hate the person spitting it and use the content as an excuse. Remember, they hated zoot suits and Jazz too.
Maybe it is us that's “bonkers”. Maybe it is us that's “bizarre”. Maybe Willow and Jaden feel like the only sane people in the room. And given the way that the general public responds to them, they probably are.