Thursday, November 4, 2010

Willow Smith is the new Bindi Irwin

I believe that like Bindi Irwin, Willow Smith is being exploited. Willow Smith is the new, R&B Bindi Irwin, except instead of being thrust into the limelight at a tender age by an overzealous, khaki-clad Crocodile Hunter's widow and rapping about the jungle, Willow is being thrust into the limelight at a tender age by an overzealous, cable TV actress and singing about hair whipping.

A little refresher, in case you've forgotten the horror that was "Trouble in the Jungle":

Sidenote: I wonder if any of these back-up dancers have gotten their big break as a result of this?

Do you know who would quickly disagree with me that Willow is being exploited? Jay-Z, who told Ryan Seacrest:
“She has a child's innocence but she has a clear vision of who she is and who she wants to be. I can only imagine that's how Mike [Michael Jackson] was as a young kid. When you have that sort of talent, there is no such thing as too young.”
Yeah, evoking the memory of the famously troubled (and famously dead) icon is a great way to argue your point. [eye roll] Plus, I think I can safely say that Willow Smith is no Michael Jackson. And that's not a bad thing.
Can a nine-year-old child (she only turned ten last week) be precocious? Distinctive? Yes, and yes. It's just...I don't know, the avant-garde designer clothes, the Pepe Le Pew hairstyle. I'm sure Willow likes the way she looks, but do I believe she came up with this on her own? No. And that's not an insult to Willow, I just don't think a girl her age could cultivate an image like this. Willow is a precious girl, but she seems more like an ordinary child who is being used like a pawn. Seeing parents sell their children's childhoods for fame and fortune is nothing new, but the Smiths don't need the money. So why do it? It seems to me, the person who might be behind all this, the person who most benefits from Willow's slingshot to stardom, is Jada Pinkett-Smith. I mean, Jada has gotten more publicity and attention in the last month thanks to Willow than she has ever gotten. Or so it seems. 
Before I solidified my opinion on this matter, I watched Willow perform her hit, "Whip My Hair" on Ellen DeGeneres:

Ok, so Willow is light years ahead of Bindi in the performance department, but that just means Willow is more conducive to being exploited in this manner. Full disclosure: I really don't like the song, and was underwhelmed by this over hyped spectacle, but I can tell Willow did her best, and I would venture to say that she is a better stage performer than the average ten-year-old. I decided to watch her interview with Ellen to see how they interact. It would take a very sophisticated and savvy person to cultivate the persona and image that little Willow has carved out for herself, and I was curious to see if she conveyed this savvy in an interview. Is she is a puppet on a string like Bindi Irwin, or is she is a child prodigy like Dakota Fanning? You be the judge:

Well, she's certainly precocious. Obnoxious is probably a better word, but she's Will and Jada's kid, so it's to be expected. For as talkative as she was, she was so scattered and inarticulate, and seemingly unable to answer simple questions. She had difficulty expressing why she likes to sing and she had difficulty explaining the meaning of her new hit song (not that it means very much). I just wasn't left with the impression that she's the mastermind behind this burgeoning music career and tween fashionista persona that she's crafting. I'm not trying to criticize Willow, I'm criticizing her handlers who are making money by pushing her out into the spotlight. Right now Willow is having fun, but that's because nothing bad has happened yet. Pushing a child into early stardom rarely ends well.
As a point of reference, here is seven-year-old Dakota Fanning accepting her Critic's Choice Award. She's young, but as she thanks God, her agents and her fellow nominees, I am not left with the feeling that she's completely being groomed and coached. I get that feeling with Willow. 
Final thought: that little girl is way to pretty to have all that hair in her face.


  1. the real story here? bindi irwins adult male back up dancers. what tragic turn in their lives got them there?

  2. I completely agree with you. Willow's look is TOTALLY forced on her, and yeah, she looks like she's having fun, but listen to me- in about 5 years if not before, she'll be the next Rhianna all over again. Maybe a little more successful, but the same crappy and slut**! We'll see her!