THE “ENTANGLEMENT” EPISODE.

I believe aside from the words pandemic, confinement and coronavirus, “entanglement” was one of the most popular words of 2020. I genuinely believe so. It even became a song from the same guy who didn’t seem to mind his affair with a married woman became public. The things people do…

So, a little backstory. A few years ago, Jada Pinkett-Smith, actress, the Oprah Winfrey of the pandemic year and host of the red table talk show, had an “entanglement”, which is a euphemism for “sleeping together”, with young R&B singer August Alsina. It turns out when that “entanglement” occurred, Jada and her husband, actor/rapper/late Instagram sensation, Will “Big Willie Style” Smith, were on a break, and not an ambiguous break the likes of Ross and Rachel from Friends! They were on a real and genuine break. The rules are, and I don’t care if you accept them, when people are on a break, they have the right to do whatever they want with whoever they want, so long as consent is given beforehand. It means Will and Jada, both had the right to do whatever they wanted with whoever they wanted, period.

Through a leak on the internet, another proof that no secret can stay a secret in this 21st hyperconnected century, the “entanglement” became public knowledge. And as a corollary, as it is a custom with celebrities and this worship culture we live in, Jada had to address this alleged affair. Since her red table talk show on Facebook was a tremendous success during the pandemic, she decided to talk about the affair in an exclusive episode where the guest would be non-other than her husband, Will, with whom she had reconciled a while ago. As one might deduce, their break ended, they are back together and stronger than ever. Some crises either break everything or they reinforce everything.

So, they sat down and addressed the whole thing. At some point, a profoundly reluctant Will Smith (he looked like didn’t want to be there, at all! As if someone had threatened to hurt his family!) asked Jada what happened with August Alsina and that’s when she used the amazingly entertaining word “entanglement”. I am not sure if she had prepared the word for the show or if it came out spontaneously, but it was one for the ages! We have all been using “entanglement” in a mocking and funny way ever since. It is important to point out she wasn’t any more comfortable with the talk than Will was. Jada answered reluctantly, furtively, and while stammering. Frankly, the whole thing seemed forced, but they are celebrities who let people into their lives so, I guess they feel a certain obligation to discuss the “tough” subjects, no matter how painful the results might be.

This whole “entanglement” affair (pun intended!), jokes aside, was interesting on so many levels. It dealt with romance, marriage, pain, infidelity, forgiveness, privacy, courage, humiliation, sex, love, loyalty, the very definition or redefinition of relationships, moving on, acceptance, and so much more. If we took away the mockery, the jokes, the memes, and the satire, we would be left with some existential questions about life, love, and relationships. I know it doesn’t seem like it but what happened was extremely interesting. In my book, Jada and Will get a few points for their courage, even if it seemed reluctant.

As I watched bits and pieces of the episode (I admit not watching the whole thing!), I was more interested in Will Smith’s demeanor, reactions, facial expressions, and body language. I mean we are talking about THE Will Smith. He is one of the biggest international movie stars of the past 30 years. He was the first rapper to win a Grammy in 1989. He is a rap icon, even if he always has been a commercial rapper, more than anything else. He was the star of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sitcom! It’s fucking Will Smith! He doesn’t need any introduction. He is a well-known and almost universally liked figure, because of his cool, funny, and warm persona.

Yet, during that red table talk episode, he looked hurt, ashamed, betrayed and he basically looked like a regular guy. A worldwide famous icon was stripped of his aura, status, money and power and he looked like a regular guy whose wife had an affair, even if they were on a break. The assumption was that Will probably failed as a man and a husband and all that drove Jada away. That’s how adultery and infidelity are usually perceived when the woman cheats. I personally felt a bit sorry for him and then I shook it off because I don’t like feeling sorry for people; it robs them of their ability to bounce back in my mind!

I realized I was looking at a man whose wife cheated on him. The story sounds simple, yet it is quite heavy in people’s minds and especially in the man’s heart and mind. The whole story was unraveling before our very eyes, which was highly unusual. In any society anywhere in the world, we are used to men cheating. You are even thinking of a few cheating men that you know right now! It’s common. However, studies have shown women cheat just as much as men but it’s rarely public. Are women sneakier than men? Of course, they are, may the Gods bless them! I believe they are sneakier as a defense mechanism. Since the dawn of time, a woman who was caught cheating was stoned, raped, killed, cast away and so many other hurtful and disgusting things would be done to her. So when you know what the punishment is, you tend to cover your tracks better than most to avoid fatal repercussions. I personally dream of a world where a cheating man or a cheating woman would be treated the same way, without violence and without any other heavy consequence, frankly. Let the concerned parties deal with it and let’s not make it a social or political matter, for crying out loud. Anyway, that’s my liberal mind speaking.

Seeing a lost Will Smith sitting at the red table for a talk, I couldn’t help but admire him, for real! I personally wouldn’t sit there to discuss how my wife cheated on me, the same way I wouldn’t want her to sit there so I can talk about how I cheated on her. I believe some things to be so private that it literally isn’t anyone’s business. This isn’t machismo or toxic masculinity. Hell no! I have had girlfriends who cheated on me, and it wasn’t and still isn’t anyone’s business. I have cheated on some of my girlfriends, so what? No one’s business. One thing I know about cheating; it isn’t a simple matter. It is complicated and complex and just talking about it as if it were a simple matter of horniness is simply reductive and stupid. People cheat for multiple reasons, and it’s always complicated because people are fucking complicated.

As a man, I know how society expects me to react when my woman cheats on me! Oh, I know! I need to make sure my manhood is secure and that my honor is avenged! What??? Get the fuck out of here! What the hell does that even mean? Seriously? A grown ass woman, with a brain and free will, decided to give some to another dude, willingly, meaning she gave him consent and I should do something about that? What can I possibly do? It’s done! She fucked him and he fucked her! It’s done! There is nothing I could do that would change the reality of the situation. I know people were expecting Will Smith to act outraged or to do something outrageous during that episode. Yet, Mr. Big Willie Style is a mature man. He did nothing and he sat there. Once again, as a man, I’d say it was painful to see because of society’s expectations regarding men who were cheated on. I also hate when politicians are caught in a sex/cheating scandal, and they do a press conference with their wives standing by their side. I think that’s bullshit. Standing by the husband’s side isn’t showing support; it’s just theater and it is pathetic. I am not blaming the woman but one can show support without standing there like a prop.

By the way, let’s be honest, let’s be real; when society requires a man to “do something about what happened”, it usually means to confront her, to make her pay, to punish her, to hurt her basically. It’s never said openly but a level of psychological, sometimes physical hurt is expected. A real man must avenge his honor! Moreover, if she slept with someone else, that means you are inadequate! It surely means you cannot satisfy her. It means you are inferior to the man she chose to sleep with. It means you should be ashamed of yourself. How could you let your woman do that to you?

Really? Someone cheating on you means you aren’t all that? Funny that’s all it means! Really? Cut the fucking crap! She didn’t do anything to you for crying out loud! Whatever she did, trust me, she did to herself and for herself. This isn’t 5 A.D in Palestine or 21st century Saudi Arabia. Hurting your partner isn’t going to undo what happened. Jesus Christ, people! Let’s think for a moment. Tell the ego to shut up for one goddamn second. I know it is immensely hard to think when our heart and soul are hurting. Pain has this ability to shut down cognitive function. It’s the body’s biochemistry you are fighting, nothing more, nothing less and it’s profoundly hard to beat biology!

That is the kind of bullshit that we put in our boys’ minds, and it is immensely dangerous. The idea that if someone cheats on you, that you are solely to blame. Moreover, you are expected to do something about it. But do what, I wonder? Whatever you do, it will not change what happened. Someone did the cheating. Perhaps, you are partly responsible for creating the atmosphere which pushed the person to cheat but that person made the choice to cheat. It wasn’t an accident! By the way, do you know how long of a process cheating is??? Here it goes; before the person cheats, they must find the person to cheat with. Firstly, they must engage into a conversation, get a bit comfortable with them, find a place and a time, fuck and then go home. This whole endeavor takes a while and at any point, the person could have stopped. But they didn’t. They made a conscious choice. It wasn’t an accident. So, in my experience, as someone who has been cheated on and who has cheated, cheating is a whole process that takes days, weeks and months. And there is nothing you can do.

Yes, people will shame you when they found out your woman cheated on you. But to quote Lloyd from the show Yellowstone, “shame, it’s in the mind. And you can turn that faucet off anytime”. I really identified with that quote for some reason. It made me think, a lot about our actions based on other people’s expectations and perception of us. I have been called names and I took the high road, not out of nobility or grace, but out of peace and smarts. Words never hurt as much as actions do. Engaging in any fight whether it’d be psychological or physical, it ain’t going to fix anything. Zero. Nada. Esta terminado.

I know some people will jump on me for sympathizing with Will. I salute a man who did the right thing and kept silent through the whole thing. I could see myself in him. I could empathize with him. People cheat. It’s what we do. We don’t do it to hurt others usually, it’s just the animalistic instinct in us, and it’s hard to turn off, for most people. And finally, to quote the great 21st century philosopher, Chris Rock, “a man is as faithful as his options”. I guess, we could replace the “man”, with “person”, to make it gender neutral and because men and women cheat at arguably the same rate!

How you react to the cheating will define much about you. Some people will say it defines everything about you, as unfair as it is. We don’t know how Will Smith reacted in private and at the time of the “entanglement”. But if we base everything on what we saw on that episode, I commend him for being a man’s man! He is a man’s man in my eyes. If he was able to take the ego out of the equation, if he was able to stay calm while he was angry and hurt, if he was able to not do anything to hurt his partner, then kudos to him. As for Jada, I guess she found comfort in someone else’s arms when things were tough between her and Will. Who can blame her really? She was looking for comfort, and I hope she found some comfort. Maybe Will did it as well, and if he had, I guess we wouldn’t have judged him as harshly as we judged Jada. I hate that double standard when it comes to men and women cheating, goddamn it!

Cheating is a multilayered thing. It isn’t as easily explained as most people think. It’s complex, complicated, and infuriatingly common. It isn’t gender specific. It isn’t a sin as most religions will have you believe; it’s more of a mistake than a sin. It does hurt admittedly. I believe it’s more about people’s internal struggles than anything else. Yes, it is physical, I get it but it’s never that simple. And if men, can take their ego out of something else someone did, that would be a win for them.

Let’s thank Will and Jada for introducing us to “the condition of being deeply involved” which is the entanglement’s definition, based on Webster’s dictionary! I know the whole thing made me think and revisit my past through my current self and some optics have changed tremendously. I am older, I am wiser. Some things I see them more clearly now! And I am still laughing at the various situations I encountered and the things I did. Life is like that!

Just one man’s opinion.

Now smile and go on with your day!

Freeman. B

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