from IonaArc, 2005 02 20
Is there anyone who doesn’t love Will Smith? Is it possible not to love Will Smith? Has there ever been a star like him?
He’s good looking; but not good looking enough to hate. He’s big; but not scary. He seems so pleased with himself; without being an ass. His rhythm, his speech … are just beautiful: truly musical. Smith is an artist whose greatness spans numerous fields.
Being interviewed for a new release, a blond reporter asked Will Smith if he was sleeping with his co-star. Smith mumbled, “I know what she needs,” wrestled her to the very public floor, and pretended to kiss her.
With the illustration you may see for sure that by “blond” I meant to suggest more than the reporter’s hair color. She’s what we call “white.” Will Smith, we all know, is what we call “black.”
Yet look at this photograph! Everyone is enjoying the scene like crazy. How many nightclub audiences, when a comedian is on stage, look as maximally entertained, as this group of professionals?
Ah, joy. I don’t see a single person looking offended, reaching for a razor, snapping open their cell phone to call for Jack London and his toughs: to cut vengeance upon the attacker of their precious blond.
Had the gag been scripted, the blond doesn’t look to me like she could have mimed her good humor better.
Without that photo I wouldn’t have believed it possible for my culture to have changed so. What’s the earliest possible time in American history that such a scene would be possible? I can guess different answers from different respondents, but surely you see my point that it would have been impossible to unlikely in all such ages before Will Smith.
Sure we loved Louis Armstrong; but not like we love Will Smith, or Tiger. It’s a different world from the one in which Jack Johnson was shown getting castrated in a woodcut, or in which cops beat Miles Davis with their nightsticks for smoking a cigarette in front of Birdland: when he was the headlined star there.
I wish Miles could see this photo. And Jack Johnson.
Now I can die happy.
(Already dead, I hope Jack Johnson and Miles … and John Brown can become happy.)
PS Though perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this. Is it possible, despite Iraq, that we are achieving innocence? The innocent shouldn’t be told that they are innocent. pk has little business with the innocent.
A note on Khaki
Will Smith’s image gained household currency as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The “Fresh” diction in that title already meant “black” for those who followed the argot.
What does all this black and white mean? We know only too well; though we may not say so out loud. For the West, “white” has meant “good.” Christianity is good; all else is Paganism. Fair skin is good; all else is the mark of Cain. Therefore, it was right and proper than when Westerners wanted gold from the new world to take back to Europe, they shouldn’t have to be bothered to dig it from the ground. Once the West had killed the locals with the mining, with disease, with discipline, what was the West to do but import new Pagans from Africa, where skins were darkest of anywhere on the planet.
And of course once you were making them dig, and smelt, if one of them was comely, why should one hesitate to rape her? Enslave her in the bedroom, in the kitchen, in the nursery, as well as in the mine, in the field, picking cotton.
Thus, it didn’t take long before the only blacks in the new world were ones just being dumped from the boat. Everyone already on shore was either West: or khaki.
There are folks who can identify all four of Queen Elizabeth’s grandfathers, all four grandmothers, her great great great grandfather, her cousins six times removed … Being black meant that your family had no tree. The West couldn’t allow anyone saying that the slave was the mine owner’s son: especially if he was the mine owner’s son! You can have all the sons nature allows so long as you don’t marry the mother: bring your real family within the law. This practice is an extreme extension of English primogeniture: the monopolies of one generation must not be diluted by the next generation.
And, in a finite world, with no limits on population, there’s something to be said for that: forty acres can in no time get divided down to .0001 acres.
We could share: until we all starve; or we can let one of us be wealthy: while the rest starve.
(Certainly new wealth is created, but certain core resources, like land, especially good land, remain finite.) (Actually, they diminish.)
Notice how common are names like Davis Love III, Huntington Hartford II, August Paul Knatz, Jr. … and how rare, unheard of, are names like (the non-existent) George Washington Abraham Lincoln Brown VIII. (Oh, the guy might be the eighth such, but he won’t be called the VIII.)
Knatz.com’s piece on Race discusses this phenomenon, pointing out that someone like Mohammed Ali might genetically be “Irish” every bit as much as he is “African” in ancestry. But Western custom reduces complexity to “black.”
Look at Will Smith: his great grand father might be your great grandfather! By 2005 we should see if, however blind we were in 1955. Therefore: the khaki prince.