The NYT Interview With Willow And Jaden Smith Shows Them To Be Wise, Wealthy, And Believers In Holograms

smithIt’s not really fair to interview a pair of teenagers in a national magazine and ask them questions like, “I’m curious about your experience of time.” This is especially true when you are talking to the children of two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, who are themselves in the entertainment industry. Willow and Jaden Smith already have lives that are far outside what most consider “normal.” Shouldn’t they be telling us about their favorite subjects in school or what their favorite music is? If they don’t start fighting about whose turn it is to answer first, I am going to be seriously let down.

But no. In their first joint interview in the New York Times Magazine, Su Wu did, in fact, ask them about their experience of time. Of course, that means she got answers that included both a reference to theoretical physics and the thought, “Because living.” And in those two answers we have the essence of the Smith interview: it’s one half teenagers being teenagers, and the other half teenagers being absurdly wise.

Willow is fourteen-years-old. Her kick ass song “Whip My Hair” went platinum before she was a teenager. Jaden is sixteen and has starred in a number of feature films (2010’s The Karate Kid, anyone?). This month they have both come out with new albums.

There is no denying that these kids are crazy talented and super smart. For example, these are their answers when Wu asks them what they’ve been reading lately:

WILLOW: Quantum physics. Osho.

JADEN: ”The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life” and ancient texts; things that can’t be pre-dated.

Oh my God me too! Clearly they are both smarter than I was at that age. I wouldn’t even have pretended to be reading quantum physics because I was too busy watching Family Ties. At the same time, however, some of their answers make you cringe for them, because ten years from now they are going to read this and say, “I don’t even know what I thought I was talking about.” Exhibit A:

What are some of the themes that recur in your work?

JADEN: The P.C.H. being one of them; the melancholiness of the ocean; the melancholiness of everything else.

WILLOW: And the feeling of being like, this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.


The NYT interview is a perfect representation of developing teenagers. On the one hand, they make confusing comments about holograms. On the other hand, there is what Willow says later when talking about how she has gotten better as an artist:

WILLOW: Caring less what everybody else thinks, but also caring less and less about what your own mind thinks, because what your own mind thinks, sometimes, is the thing that makes you sad. People will be, like, ”Oh, I’m not going to make a song about exactly how I feel, all the bad ways that I feel, and put it out in the world so everyone can judge me.” But for me, it’s a part of me, it’s my artistic journey.

So, that may or may not be what my therapist and I talked about last week. But it’s cool that Willow has it figured out at fourteen. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me. Right? Oh, God. Does anyone have Willow’s number? I really need to talk this out.

And despite the fact that a lot of their perspectives can’t help but be colored by their immense wealth and privilege, you have to respect their views on “normal school”:

JADEN: Kids who go to normal school are so teenagery, so angsty.

WILLOW: They never want to do anything, they’re so tired.

JADEN: You never learn anything in school. Think about how many car accidents happen every day. Driver’s ed? What’s up? I still haven’t been to driver’s ed because if everybody I know has been in an accident, I can’t see how driver’s ed is really helping them out.

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.

Preach. Teenagers are the worst. (Except for you guys. You’re cool.) Obviously, the fact that these kids have an option other than “normal school” that won’t result in them taking double shifts at Burger King is something that most other kids don’t have. They may not have that kind of perspective yet on their good fortune compared to what other kids have as their only choice. That said, Willow and Jaden have had the opportunity to learn some lessons that most kids who have to go to “normal school” don’t get the chance to explore. They have learned that if they don’t like they see, then they can create what’s missing:

JADEN: Honestly, we’re just trying to make music that we think is cool. We don’t think a lot of the music out there is that cool. So we make our own music. We don’t have any song that we like to listen to on the P.C.H. by any other artist, you know?

WILLOW: That’s what I do with novels. There’re no novels that I like to read so I write my own novels, and then I read them again, and it’s the best thing.

JADEN: Willow’s been writing her own novels since she was 6.

Clearly privileged? Maybe. Clearly awesome? Definitely. Who doesn’t want a kid that says, “I don’t like what I hear on the radio. I’m going to go to my room and make up my own music.” That deserves a high five both up high and down low.

One day these two will meet the real world outside of their parent’s influence and will likely get some rude awakenings. But I would never want to discourage any teenager who wants to change the world, even if it is Jaden Smith, a wealthy teenager who makes bad movies. He and his sister are still kids, but for the most part, they show a kind of moxie in this interview that I hope my own kids have at their age:

JADEN: The only way to change something is to shock it. If you want your muscles to grow, you have to shock them. If you want society to change, you have to shock them.

You are very wise, Smith children. Very wise indeed. Now may I please borrow some money so I can paint my house. Thank you.

(Photo: Twitter)

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