*Owen Gleiberman of EW.com has written a column targeting a significant segment of his readers who can’t stand Jaden Smith, and have taken to the EW comment boards with “bitter, gnashing resentment” against the 11-year-old.
The hateration appeared to reach its boiling point with Jaden’s appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” last week to promote his new film “The Karate Kid.”
“He’s been ripped up and down as ‘insufferable’,” noted Gleiberman of Will and Jada’s son. Gleiberman’s column, excerpted below, suggests that class and race may play a factor in Jaden’s perception among many readers as arrogant.
Jaden’s “Letterman” appearance below is followed by an excerpt from Gleiberman’s column defending the young actor’s behavior on the show.
Bottom line, for me: Smith was cocky as hell on Letterman, but he was also interesting. For eight minutes, he displayed the confidence to be non-ingratiating and, in the process, he seized your attention. He was brash; he acted like a Hollywood kid who truly had a mind of his own. Perish the thought!
Yet in the online universe of Jaden Hatred, that Letterman appearance played as one thing and one thing only: privilege. And that, on the surface, is what the whole ragging-on-Jaden-Smith phenomenon is really all about — the desire to tear down a child who enjoys the perks of celebrity royalty, even though he didn’t earn them. And now he’s getting a movie career handed to him! You can almost taste the class resentment, the jealousy of folks who only wish, deep down, that they’d gotten such an opportunity themselves and now want to scrawl their rage on Jaden Smith’s image like Perez Hilton going crazy with his Magic Marker.
Still, what’s most striking, and perhaps revealing, about this particular outpouring of toxic anger is that Jaden’s famous father, Will Smith, isn’t just another big movie star — he’s one of the most likable movie stars you could ever imagine. You’d think that the general feeling about him, the nearly universal good will, would extend to giving the benefit of the doubt to his son. I know that when I watched Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid, the echoes of his father in everything from his cool, appraising glare to the nimble speed of his responses is something I enjoyed — like, say, hearing that raspy echo of Bob Dylan in Jakob Dylan’s voice back in the “One Headlight” days. It’s not as if this sort of situation happens every day; what would be so wrong with giving the son (or daughter) of fame a break and simply enjoying it?
It’s hard to shake the feeling, though, that too many people are trying to turn Jaden Smith from what he is, which is an insolently charismatic and hard-working young actor, into a focal point of ill will over issues of class, fame, money, and — yes, I’m going to say it — race. For let’s be honest: Doesn’t all the grousing about how Smith is “arrogant,” etc., carry a special, ugly tinge of rancor? Doesn’t the complaint that he’s too big for his britches come painfully close to saying that he doesn’t know his place?