Although critiqued for being shallow and unrealistic I want to take a moment to focus on the power of the messages represented in this film. In every way it hinges on taking risks and reining in one’s ideas of self and one’s place in the world. Furthermore, this film speaks volumes to how we teach our children, and the lessons they take from us.
We teach our children to fend for themselves, but we destroy community and the community commons.
We endorse emotional hardness, and hide affection and gentleness.
We hardly ever take responsibility for our own failings and then demand perfection and honesty from them.
Hardly ever do we honor their right to fail and to learn from failure.
We demand so much, but offer so little support.
We fail to realize that they mirror our behavior.
So as much as critics were troubled by the emotionless character of Cipher Rage as played by the indomitable Will Smith the reality is, Smith is a reflection of countless parents. This portrayal comes alongside the fact that Smith’s relationship with his son is the polar opposite of his character’s. I admire that Smith is the catalyst for his son. He allows Jaden to stand on his shoulders.
He has inevitably flung him forward into the spotlight, but with perhaps more momentum than any 14 year old can manage. So in many ways the film simply reflects their own story. Amidst the pressure and expectations Jaden Smith is writing his own story, and amidst those that seek to dismiss his promise and potential. Give the kid some credit. While you’re at it, give Will some too for not only taking a risk on his son but on himself as a writer, and on M. Night Shamalyn as director.
Each has miles to go in making their craft better, but they’ve set aside fear to pursue that. For in all honesty how many of us can say in pure defiance, “I am not a coward!”