'Bonkers' Reaction to Willow & Jaden Smith Interview Says More About Us Than Them

Jaden and Willow Smith -- Will Smith and Jada Pinkett's teen offspring, as if they need an introduction -- are being positively slammed for an interview they recently gave in T Magazine in which they claim time doesn't exist, school is not necessary, all novels suck, and the best goal is to be "the most craziest person of all time." Since the interview was released, every negative adjective you can think up has been used (by adult readers) to describe Jaden and Willow: from "bonkers" to "nuts" to worse. But here's the thing: Jaden is 16. Willow is 14. And we're the ones who are out of our minds for thinking anything negative about them. 

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In order to understand where critics of the brother/sister duo are coming from, it's probably necessary to highlight a few quotes that have folks all fired up. 

On the topic of school, here's what Jaden and Willow have to say:

Jaden: Here’s the deal: School is not authentic because it ends. It’s not true, it’s not real. Our learning will never end. The school that we go to every single morning, we will continue to go to.

Willow: I went to school for one year. It was the best experience but the worst experience. The best experience because I was, like, “Oh, now I know why kids are so depressed.” But it was the worst experience because I was depressed.

Though their thoughts on education seem to be getting the most press, Jaden and Willow also discuss how they're reading about quantum physics, can make time go slow or fast, are just fragments of a "holographic reality," and are evolving and achieving honesty in their music in a way that might blow your mind.

Would we prefer that they talk about twerking?

Instead of slamming Willow and Jaden, we should thank them. The teens are reflecting back to us one of the biggest problems with our youth-obsessed society: we treat children as if they are adults.

We hang on their every word and covet their fashion choices (instead of the other way around). We donate precious space to them in a well-regarded publication, gossip about their fickle love lives, gossip about them when they get married as virgins while barely out of their teens, and call them "sluts" just for having love lives (lots of us owe Taylor Swift an apology for that one).

I'm one of billions of people who kept a diary when I was a young teen. In it, I wrote song lyrics by bands that I assumed knew a lot about the mysteries of life. Sometimes I wrote those lyrics in a circular pattern because, you know, a circle symbolizes eternity and ... mysteries of life ... or something like that.

Had I been as famous as Willow or Jaden and dared publish my diary, it would have been absolutely absurd for anyone over the age of 18 to actually read it and criticize me for believing I was a hologram and that every single person on Earth, spare two or three, didn't live the life that I did, as an exceptionally honest and enlightened 16-year-old girl.

A great many teens explore and question everything -- religion, spirituality, education. That's sort of your job as a teen. The fact that Willow doesn't find honesty in Ulysses -- she is quoted as saying there are no novels she likes so she writes her own -- doesn't make her stupid or a dangerous influence. It makes her 14. Interview her again in four years, and you'll either find she has discovered Aldous Huxley and James Baldwin and thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread or that she still hates fiction and, well, so do quite a few 40-year-olds, judging by the decline in fiction sales.

Let's back up before we slam these two young people for being two young people who have young people concerns and ideas about the universe. Think back and imagine the kind of interview you would have given at age 14. Either don't take them so seriously -- or cut them a break and find the charm in their innocent and developing words and thoughts.

What do you think of Willow and Jaden's interview?

 

Image via Christopher Polk/Getty Images

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