I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Willennium So Far - 2009

In the mid- to late-nineties one of the most important American cultural traditions was the Fourth of July Will Smith blockbuster. The tradition had a proper beginning with the film Independence Day in 1996 in which Will Smith saves the world from aliens and says such profound lines as "I have GOT to get me one of THESE!" and "No, you did NOT shoot that green [expletive deleted] at me!" This was followed the next year by Men in Black in which Will Smith saves... the world... from aliens... (Author's note: it feels like I wrote this sentence already...) and then in 1999 by Wild Wild West. These latter two movies are significant because of Smith's musical contributions. For Men in Black, Smith wrote the hip hop song "Men in Black" which features a sample of Patrice Rushen's funk standard "Forget Me Nots" that Smith raps over. In the song "Wild Wild West," written for the movie Wild Wild West, Smith samples the Stevie Wonder tune "I Wish."

As a result of the popular tradition of Will Smith blockbusters with songs of the same name featuring easily recognizable funk and soul samples, Smith found himself on a particularly influential platform. On November 16, 1999, Smith released the album Willennium. With the combination of the Y2K hysteria, blockbuster success and the propaganda off of his album, Will Smith declared the coming millennium to be the Willennium. Such are the days that we currently live in.

Though the Fourth of July Will Smith blockbuster trend has continued with such films as Men in Black II (2002) and Hancock (2008), the first decade of the Willennium has not been what the world expected a Willennium to look like. These films didn't see the magnitude of success and popular culture following that their predecessors had, and the huge spacing between them makes one feel that the tradition may be coming to an end. Furthermore, Smith has been featured in enough "serious" films (The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds) that Hollywood production companies appear to simply make scrips that would work for Will Smith to be in. In other words, Will Smith no longer plays roles or characters in movies; rather, movies are built around the personality that is Will Smith.

There is also the unfortunate possibility that Will Smith is Satan, which compounds the difficulties of the Willennium. Revelation 20:7-8 says, "When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, in order tog ather them for battle; they are as numerous as the sands of the sea." What this would suggest is that Satan Will Smith was released into a position of power at the end of the previous millennium, and that his unification of all mankind under the sign of the Willennium is a means of bringing about a strife-filled end-times. Gog and Magog might here be understood as producer DJ Jazzy Jeff and label Columbia Records.

The evidence, however, to conclude that Will Smith is Satan is somewhat unconvincing. Your beloved Fort Worth Movie Examiner would like to suggest that there is hope yet in this Willennium we are witnessing, that there is still room for the courage of the human spirit, for men and women who stand up against the evil aliens and robots and protect this great planet. That, after all, is what Will Smith has always stood for, and by proxy, that is what the Willennium stands for. Though our parents just don't understand this Willennium, it is not theirs to understand. It belongs to us and to our progeny. Perhaps Will Smith was a little big for his britches when he declared this millennium to belong to him. That is not the issue under scrutiny. The issue is fulfilling the potential of the Willennium, making this thousand years the best possible thousand years.

...unless Will Smith is actually the devil, in which case let's just try to survive.

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