October 18, 2023

Jada Pinkett Smith: When Telling Your Story Trumps Decency

The Will and Jada Pinkett Smith marriage drama continues.

Jada Pinkett Smith, longtime wife of actor Will Smith, has only made the news in recent years as a sort of Lady Macbeth figure overseeing the murder of her family’s peace and her husband’s sanity. She has been accused of being an adulterous wife because of her “entanglement” with actor August Alsina, who was a friend and contemporary of her son Jaden. She also has been labeled as the instigator for the slap heard ‘round the world at the 2022 Oscars.

Jada’s new autobiography, called Worthy, has placed her right in the spotlight yet again. This book is her opportunity to set the record straight. According to an interview with The New York Times, her confessions and revelations discussed in the book do illuminate the interplay in this Hollywood-style marriage. It also deepens the sentiment that Jada is a deeply troubled woman who resented being the wife of a more successful and beloved Hollywood star.

The book apparently starts out at one of the lowest moments in Jada’s life, just after her 40th birthday. She was contemplating suicide and looking for a good cliff to drive off of to make it look like an accident. Jada has been on the hunt for family and a sense of peace her whole life. Yet she lived her entire life riskily, which is still playing out. The saddest conclusion, though, is that she still is searching. She and Will are separated, though not divorced. She reads the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, and Quran as a daily practice and attributes her salvation to ayahuasca, a psychedelic drug-induced experience that is in vogue for the Hollywood elite.

She paints herself as the ultimate victim with all the disadvantages of growing up the daughter of a teen mom in Baltimore and being the less successful actress wife of Will Smith. What is neglected, particularly in her New York Times interview, is a sense of caring about what her actions were doing to those around her, especially her children.

The three Smith children — Trey (son from Will’s first marriage), Jaden, and Willow — reportedly feel very badly for how Jada’s book is continuing to paint Will as a pathetic figure cuckolded by his pathologically narcissistic wife. They would prefer if their private family struggle remain that: private. But that’s not Jada’s goal. She wrote her book not only to explain her journey but to give “guidance pages” to those who read it.

Jada attributes all the negative press that has been handed her way as typical misogynistic filth from the patriarchy. What she dubs “misogyny” is probably more of an observation that her way of life, marriage, and parenting create misery for those around her, and it is sad she continues to be blinded to that fact.

For his part, Will Smith has turned off his notifications. His only comment was paraphrased from an email to The New York Times: “The memoir, Smith said in an email, kind of woke him up. [Jada] had lived a life more on the edge than he’d realized, and she is more resilient, clever and compassionate than he’d understood. 'When you’ve been with someone for more than half of your life,’ he wrote, ‘a sort of emotional blindness sets in, and you can all too easily lose your sensitivity to their hidden nuances and subtle beauties.’”

Many see this as further proof that Will is continuing to turn a blind eye to Jada’s using their marriage and name to humiliate him. It is that in many ways, but Smith is a product of Hollywood — a confused and clearly broken individual trying like mad to hold his family together. All the while, Jada is declaring that they are in a “good place” and that she is working toward reconciling with him.

The Smiths are yet another clear example of why looking to Hollywood elite for moral clarity and relationship advice is a treacherous idea. They are more confused than many of us and have the money and protection of the Hollywood institution to cover up or justify their misery-creating life choices.

Image credit: Harry Wad, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Altered to add caption.

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