Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more Opinion On grio.
Chilli… Will is going through this in 2023! It’s still November, but I’m sure he’s looking forward to midnight on January 1, 2024 because this year was not good at all for him. And as a fan, it’s sad to see him have such a crazy year that most people don’t really think he deserves.
As Cardi B said in her recent Instagram Live, Will As such A “problem-free” man. Is he perfect? No, and the Oscar slap is proof of that, but in everything we’ve seen of him, he’s consistently aimed to be the highest version of himself. He is someone who admitted when he was wrong, tried to make amends for the wrongdoing and pushed himself to move forward with each new year of life. So, when I saw Will’s Instagram post the other day expressing sadness over the difficulty of adulthood, I had to send some love to our favorite Fresh Prince.
So, respectfully, you all will support Willard C. Smith Jr. This man holds a very special place in the hearts and minds of every black person born after the baby boomer generation. (And at least, I know I speak on behalf of Millennials; we rock with Will Smith).
Amidst an era dominated by street life and gangsta rap, he taught us that it’s okay to only care about having a good time. Not everything has to be do or die! Manhood was not defined by manly bravery and an exaggerated note of anger. Will is the man who showed young black men and boys another side of black masculinity. He shows that it’s okay to be a fun-loving, goofy, and free-thinking person with jokes that keep you busy throughout the day (or at least through algebra class). It wasn’t necessary to wrap everything up in the toxicity of the thug life.
Models of that version of masculinity are as essential today as they were 30 years ago. With new allegations of abuse and misconduct by male celebrities making headlines every day – from Diddy to Darius Jackson to Jonathan Majors – a girl can appreciate a guy like Will. A “problem-free” man. A non-toxic man. A guy who knows how to treat the ladies. (And in this case, only other humans do.)
And Will is not alone, so we really have to do a better job as a society of celebrating men like him for the peace and happiness they bring to the world. All our attention is being taken up by the toxic people of the world.
So, in honor of giving some much-needed love to the man who has given us countless laughs, here’s a quick non-exhaustive list of all the reasons why we love Will.
They literally gave us “just the two of us.”
How many times have we heard men talk about fatherhood – let alone sing about it? Will’s beautiful 1998 dedication to his first-born son in “Just the Two of Us” was an expression of exactly the wonderful, carve-my-own-lane kind of thing we love Will for. A new generation of men has been born into a world where songs like this exist. He has become a father with songs like this in his playlist. It may seem small, but it matters.
And he gave us fun music to dance to.
Will’s music ranged from heartwarming to the fun summer jams we all know and love. (And for all those who pretend they never did “Gettin’ Ziggy With It” – hats off.) Among the Ziggy anthems, “Summertime,” “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and me, “Fresh Prince” With the “Need to Say” theme song that lives rent-free in our minds, this man created the soundtrack for the cheerful child that lives in all of us. Everyone, even Baby Boomers, has at least one Will Smith song on their playlist, and I put it on judge Philip Zeke Banks.
His films are very popular – both serious and less serious.
The fact that there are four “Bad Boys” movies, three “Men in Black” movies and two iconic Oscar-nomination-worthy portrayals in “Ali” and “King Richard” (he won the award for this role) is testament to Will’s talent. A lot is said about. And range as an actor. He knows how to give people what they want. (Except for the time he made “Wild Wild West,” but we still love him.) Whether it’s a silly movie like “Independence Day,” “Enemy of the State” or “Hitch,” Will made the most of them. Many childhood Fridays made watching a blockbuster movie at night feel like magic.
He keeps us laughing.
Ever since he turned the Bel-Air prep jacket inside out and made his first joke about Carlton’s height, we’ve been laughing with this guy. Will has been like our baby brother or favorite cousin, and he feels like he’s been a part of our lives forever. As we have grown up, he has also grown up, but what has remained constant is that he keeps making us laugh. From his movies to his silly Instagram, you can always count on him for a good laugh.
He is an active and present father.
People have a lot to say about Smith’s kids, but they can’t say they don’t love their dad. They can’t say that he hasn’t shown them tremendous love and devotion that goes beyond the lyrics. And they are good kids! Will is the kind of father many people wish they had. He loves his children, and it is abundantly clear.
They gave us “The Fresh Prince.”
Laughter. Father-son bond. The Aunty Wives—plural. It’s all Ashley, Carlton and Hillary. And our dear Geoffrey. Will was the glue that held all these characters together. He was the humor that brought laughter to our childhood. Just as Uncle Phil felt like a father figure to many who were fatherless, Will also felt like that goofy friend, brother or cousin we couldn’t help but love. We happily invited him into our living rooms for years. He feels part of our collective family.
So, as we watch him go through a tough year, we wish him well. Because like I said before, we rock with Will. And we know that a lot of the things he’s had to deal with say more about other people than they ever could say about him.
Kamariya is a lawyer, poet, writer and lover of all things #ForTheCulture. She runs a blog, ‘Words of My Mother’, has lived all over the DMV (heavy on the V), and enjoys skating, debate, and car karaoke. (Because, why not?!) She can be reached on Twitter at @like_tha_moon.
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