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Dear Will and Jada, please take us out of the group chat

Jada Pinkett Smith revealed she and Will Smith have been separated since 2016, and we know too much about their personal business

Jada Pinkett Smith has a new book, called Worthy, out Tuesday, and it is important that we keep that in mind as the internet once again takes in the latest inflammatory statements made by the actress and wife.

In a clip from an NBC interview with Hoda Kotb, Pinkett Smith revealed that she and husband, actor Will Smith, have been separated since 2016, though the couple has no plans to divorce.

“I made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce. We will work through whatever,” Pinkett Smith told Kotb. “And I just haven’t been able to break that promise.”

However, she said, “I think by the time we got to 2016, we were both just exhausted with trying. I think we were both kind of still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”

The Smiths have been making headlines for years, and there’s no need to rehash everything that has gone down between them because a) there’s too much of it, and b) there are enough stories out there that simply typing their names into Google will give you all the tea you can sip

If we are being honest, though, the overload of information about their marriage is entirely the problem.

I’m all for people owning their own stories and being able to tell them on their own terms. Throughout the years, there has been lots of rumors, speculation, and conjecture about the Smiths’ marriage. Are they swingers? Are they polyamorous? Are they each other’s beards? These are just some of the rumors that have swirled about the couple since they got married in 1997.

Singer August Alsina opened up about his relationship with Pinkett Smith in June 2020, and it’s understandable that Pinkett Smith needed to get ahead of that story before it got out of control. The optics of the “entanglement,” as she called it, looked bad, and her being able to offer her side of the story was important. 

We live in the information age, after all, and with news and straight-up gossip accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a person could quite easily become a character in their own story instead of the narrator if they aren’t careful.

The entanglement was one of those stories that in some ways turned public opinion against Pinkett Smith. Alsina is 21 years her junior, and at the time, was a friend of her son Jaden. A 23-year-old being befriended by the 44-year-old mother of his homeboy is one thing, but the pair engaging in a love affair is entirely something different. More than a few eyebrows were raised.

At the time, Pinkett Smith dedicated an entire episode of her Facebook Watch show, Red Table Talk, to discussing the situation with her husband, who looked hurt, defeated and completely uncomfortable for the entire interview, though he said later that he wasn’t sad or crying, just dehydrated and tired.

Still, Smith’s crying face became a popular meme.

Explaining how the “entanglement” came to be is one thing, but pulling back the curtain on their relationship was something else entirely.

There are some things that should stay between the two people who are involved in the relationship, and the rest of us don’t need to know about it. There is a way to control the narrative without revealing too much. I mean, save some for the book, sis. 

And to her credit, she did — delving into her relationship with rapper Tupac Shakur (she claims he proposed while in prison); spilling about her separation from Smith, talking about growing up in Baltimore, and finally discussing the infamous slap her husband inflicted on Oscars host Chris Rock at last year’s ceremony.

The book blurb promises an inside look into both her “unconventional” upbringing in Baltimore and her “unconventional marriage to one of the most famous men in the world.”

In it Pinkett Smith is attempting to reclaim her narrative and strip herself of “all the labels and stories crafted by others.” But as she told The New York Times, the book “isn’t going to be a fluffy journey” and she isn’t holding back about her life.

It can’t be easy being a celebrity married to another celebrity and having every detail of your life scrutinized, analyzed, and think-pieced to death by the general public. So it’s understandable that both she and Smith (who released his own self-titled memoir in 2021) feel the need to dispel rumors and set the record straight. But at what point do you stop for a minute to realize that you don’t owe any explanations to anyone?

If Smith and Pinkett Smith are happy with the life that they have set up for themselves, why do they care what other people think of it? If they plan to stay married and live separate lives until their dying breaths, why open that up to judgment from everyone else?

To quote the great reality star Nene Leakes, when it comes to all of this extra information, “Why am I in it?”

Still, I think it’s important to address one point.

A lot of the conversation surrounding the couple casts Pinkett Smith as a villain and Smith as a victim, and that is totally unfair.

It takes two to tango. Smith is a grown man, and if he had an issue with any of this — including his wife’s sharing of intimate details about their relationship — he could likely put a stop to it (he also penned a heartfelt letter that podcaster Jay Shetty read to Pinkett Smith during an interview).

But as Pinkett Smith writes in Worthy, “It was easy to spin the story of how the perfect Hollywood megastar had fallen to his demise because of his imperfect wife.

“How is it that a woman can be so irrelevant and culpable at the same time?” she continues in the book about the slap. “I had to think about the narrative out there of me as the adulterous wife, who had now driven her husband to madness with the command of one look. I had to take responsibility for my part in aiding that false narrative’s existence. I also had to chuckle at the idea that the world would think I wielded that amount of control over Will Smith. If I had that amount of control over Will, chile, my life would have been entirely different these damn near three decades. Real talk!

With Smith and Pinkett Smith, there are no victims in their relationship, despite what nearly every comment section on social media will tell you. They are two adults living their experiences out loud for all the world to see, and that is an active choice on both of their parts.

While we may enjoy the salacious gossip and the subsequent memes and chatter on the internet as each of these stories leak, ultimately it’s none of our business.

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at http://moniquejudge.com