“My Year of Will Smith”

Is it just me or has Will Smith become one of the more esoteric, combustive and intriguing figures in pop culture these days? Now, “fresh,” sure — nobody would deny that. “Cool” — ok, pretty much, maybe until he saw fit to launch that Mormon-esque crusade against the word “turnt” in that one spiel. That type of thing just smacks of hanging around Hooter’s around a bunch of young bartenders and not getting any. 

But I learned something about Will Smith this year which is pretty cool. And that is that he really loves his wife, Jada. 

The two got married, ironically, in 1997, the year Smith’s album Big Willie Style dropped onto the scene, bursting with references to “women with cinnamon tans” and the likes. By celebrity marriage standards, obviously, 25 years is an eon. And for all the forays into the spotlight Smith makes (instead of Twitter it seems he usually has his own video-interview publicity team at his disposal), we never really hear anything about the couple themselves. They believe, apparently, in a subdued, private kind of love… what other kind of love is there? 

Smith got his start in the late ’80s writing happy, fun-in-the-sun raps that made it onto radio and MTV. Then he dove into his first TV gig in the early ’90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, probably one of the top five most popular sit coms of the decade, after it’s all said and done. A couple movies followed: he seems to have a strange predilection for alien comedies (Indepedence Day, Men in Black). His career has been nothing if not diverse, and sure, his musical exploits seem to come to a pause during the most vital period included here of music, the early ’90s. And no, this might not be a coincidence. It’s ironic, though, for how useful the “Big Willie Style’s all in it” phrase has been for me in the way of general smarting off and taking the wind out of other people’s sails by illustrating how non-seriously I take myself sometimes, that we’re finally getting a glimpse of the “human” Will Smith. And the fact that this “human” side is emanating without a consequent halt to the entertainer’s career is kind of a singular, and winning, achievement, if you will.