Because this video was coming from Janet Hubert and because she forever has a place in my heart as the OG Aunt Viv aka Dark-Skinned Aunt Viv, I wanted to “YASSSSSSS” at this video. I wanted to do a jig for this video. I wanted to clap for this video.
However, as soon as I heard the words “it’s not that deep”, I had to pause. Why? Because I’ve got several issues with Ms. Janet and her video and here’s why:
1. Petty Question: Why is this not addressed to Will Smith?
I know Jada made the comments. I know this. But if Ms. Janet has so much gahtdamnedt beef with Will, why didn’t she just @ Will? Why is she using Will and his past f*cksh*t as a way to shut up a legitimate gripe for Jada?
If you got a legitimate gripe with Jada and what she’s saying, alright, then this might make a bit more sense. But since like 3/4ths of this video is LITERALLY SPENT DRAGGING WILLARD SMITH, I AM CONFUZZLED ABOUT WHAT THIS GOT TO DO WITH JADA.
Like, did Jada get you fired from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Did Jada kick your dog? Did Jada steal your milk money? Like, I need some answers, Ms. Janet, because I am confusedt.
2. Related Petty Question: Since we’re @-ing folks, where is this @ for Spike Lee?
Last time I checked, Spike also put out something about #OscarsSoWhite and I recall him being WAY more inflammatory about it (not that I’m about to tone-police him on any of it). He also is getting the side-eye this year for the hot mess that was Chi-Raq and his eternally gross comments about sexual assault on college campuses.
Yet, I peeped that Ms. Janet does not at all mention and/or drag Spike even though I would have been 100% on board for that. I find that—in Ms. Janet’s own words—suspect.
3. Related Petty Question: What is up with all these lights Ms. Janet is working with?
Ms. Janet wants to talk about bills and mortgages and how this isn’t a serious issue because we’re dealing with actors, but I want to know why all the damn lights are on in her house and making her looking like Lightskinned-ed Aunt Viv. You worried about these bills and what not, why you got 389473204832843209843209 lights on?
Why Ms. Janet? Why? WHY?
4. It is fairly clear that Janet has some personal beef with the Smiths. Will Smith in particular.
On to more serious matters, to pretend that Ms. Janet and Will, in particular, don’t have bad blood (because this is who that clapback SHOULD have been directed at again) would be naïve at best. The beef runs deep, fam. And Ms. Janet has a completely legitimate gripe, due to what happened on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set. When the going got tough, Will (the star) left her ass hanging and as a result, was complicit in her not getting her due (and her money being trifled with it).
That said, while I have always figured that Will Smith had to have had some dickish tendencies back in the day (and even up until now), let me remind you that Willard was in his 20s when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was kicking ass and taking names. Not to use his age to bar him from taking any blame, but at that point, Will was a BABY in the business. Yeah, he might have had some minor clout at that time with the popularity of Fresh Prince, but I’m willing to bet in the eyes of the business that he was still seen as a young, inexperienced, and possibly expendable, “funny” Black kid.
It was not until Will moved on to the big screen that he truly locked down his global superstar status, which yes, hypothetically, would have retroactively given him like 384703298403298 legs up in those negotiations.
Like, I really wouldn’t retroactively put it past the management of Fresh Prince to have kicked a young Will for going against the grain. I mean, that kind of stuff still happens now (re: “Terrence Howard and The Curious Case of the Iron Man Body Switch“) and it certainly happened to Ms. Janet. What’s to say it would not have happened to him too (again, not excusing his dickishness because I obviously wasn’t there, but still)?
So, I am sorry, Ms. Janet, that Will was an ass to you back in the day, but exactly what does that have to do with the very real concern that Black people being locked out of KEY parts of the movie business?
Like, how are those things correlated in any shape, way, or form?
And, like, I’m not going to tell you to let all this go or anything like that, but I will point out that this beef is older than Will Smith’s eldest kid, so…
5. We know The Smith Family is prominent and up their own asses, but that doesn’t invalidate Jada’s criticism.
I’m going to keep it 100 here: I TOTALLY jived with Ms. Janet on this part. The Smiths are absolutely up their own asses when it comes to the movie business. Like, I feel like uttering their name in the business is almost on par with saying The Kennedys, or The Rockefellers, or The Vanderbilts, and etc, etc in these Whiter streets.
They have power, they have wealth, they have connects, and they use all of that to help themselves, their friends, and their compadres as they see fit.
Prime example, Will keeps trying to make Jaden’s movie career happen and fam, it is not about to happen. I like Jaden’s overall aesthetic. I like that he is a Care-Free Black Boy. I even have learned to except his extraordinarily strange witticisms and fake-deep statuses and tweets. However, I understand that he is maybe (a STRONG MAYBE) not cut out for this acting life, but you wouldn’t know that when it comes to how adamant Will is about pushing it on him.
In addition to this, I peeped that the Smiths were getting THAT SHINE at the Golden Globes and they probably expecting to receive that same treatment at the Oscars and then were pissed when it didn’t happen.
I peeped that Will Smith has been on some weird “racism might not be a thing” vibe for a long time (no doubt because of his superstar status. You know, that tends to shield from most of the bullsh*t. Not all of it. But most of it) until very recently.
I peeped that had this particular snob not happened to Will, Jada might not have had anything to say to begin with. Because of this, I acknowledge that Jada may very well have some ulterior motives that don’t at all jive with this point that she’s trying to make.
I peeped that. All of it.
But here’s the thing: that does not make Jada’s criticism of the business any less valid. And to argue otherwise is bollocks.
That’s like saying that because you don’t like Billy Joe Ray, everything he says ever is invalid…forever. Which is just not the case. You don’t have to like someone—which is clearly the case here—but you can’t use said dislike to just invalidate their opinion if it is valid. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works
Because, to be honest, regardless of what Jada’s ulterior motives are, SOMEONE had to say something. This is the second year in a row where people had to clapback with #OscarsSoWhite; so it is clearly this is an issue. And Jada being a visible celebrity and using her platform to signal boost it gives the issue more credence. Love it or leave it, it does.
6. As overrated as the Oscars are, we know having one is a definite career boost…that Black folks are repeatedly denied of.
The fact that Black people (and other folks of color) are practically locked out of opportunities to secure Oscars are F*CKED UP. Black folks put so much into this industry and don’t get recognized for it.
Furthermore, WE KNOW IT HELPS. We’ve heard stories about people going into freakin’ Hollywood contract negotiations with much-needed leverage AFTER securing an Oscar. People can’t treat you anyhow with it. People can’t pay you anyhow with it. Say whatever you want to say about it being a non-factor (even though most of us who aspire to be in the business would not DARE say “no” to winning one or turn down the opportunity to win one), but the sh*t opens doors. It does.
TL;DR: It’s not even about the freaking Oscar, if we’re keeping it 100. It’s not about “the statue”, Ms. Janet. The statue can kick rocks for all I care. IT IS, HOWEVER, ABOUT ACCESS.
ACCESS, ACCESS, ACCESS!
That’s the issue here. Black folks and other melanated folks are constantly being denied access to spaces when they were barred from making their own spaces to begin with; thus, they have to make do with what they have. It’s about the access!
7. I will not accept Ms. Janet employing the use of oppression Olympics. Never.
So, here’s the thing. People can care about multiple issues at—SURPRISE—the same damn time. That does not take away from either issue and it does not invalidate either issue.
Because this is a thing, you can see where I have a problem with Ms. Janet using issues relating to police brutality, #BlackLivesMatter, or even the national emergency in Flint to shut up legitimate gripes about Black people being locked out of show business.
It’s reductive and completely disregards the fact that Black people go through similar issues and lockouts in OTHER BUSINESSES. Like, this is a problem not ONLY in show business but across the job board.
And it is not as simple as people saying make your own or pointing to BET for people to shut up and be satisfied. First of all, I know I am not the first one to point out that BET is no longer even Black-owned (yes, it’s true. So if that was your point for mentioning that, I am sorry to disappoint) and second of all, we ideally want to make our own things. We ideally want to have our own things. Having our own businesses and capital to work with is an INCREDIBLY powerful thing and would do wonders for us. That said, we DO NOT have those things right now. Can we work toward them? Abso-f*cking-lutely, but until those things exist, this is what we have to work it. This is the world we live in.
And you’re telling me that we just have to sit down and accept it? That we shouldn’t fight it? Even through the past goddamn year, we’ve been fighting over similar issues pertaining to Black folks across the board? Is that what you’re telling me?
Because if that’s what you’re saying to me, here’s what I have to say to *you*:
We’ve had so many candid ass conversations in the last year about systematic violence carried out against Black people. But what you are failing to recognize is that the locking Black folks out of these spaces that they have to work in, that they make their livelihoods in, is economic violence.
And guess what folks? Economic violence is also a FORM of SYSTEMATIC VIOLENCE
So say whatever you want to say about The Smiths being rich or about Black upper-class folks in general. But last time I checked, money does not shield one from racism. Maybe it can make you oblivious to it for the hottest of minutes, but systematic racism is ALWAYS around the corner to remind you of “your place”. If you don’t believe me, look no further than Jamie Foxx and stories of him constantly being stopped the cops or the fact that while Black actresses certainly get paid more than the average Joe/JaVante, they are still getting dumped upon in the business in terms of salary and denied their due accolades (a fact that Chris Rock just recently pointed out in replies to Jennifer Lawrence’s so-called “open letter”).
So, yes, Ms. Janet. It is that deep.
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