whatever i’m chaos by tarynmcintosh
Jaden Smith is a famous black weirdo. This is different than being a famous white weirdo, because then you’re just an eccentric celebrity (see: 97% of all Hollywood). Jaden Smith is constantly put under a microscope because he is black, because he doesn’t adhere to traditional masculinity, because he is so fully, completely himself, and not whatever anyone else wants him to be.
While I can’t relate to being black or famous, I relate intensely to Jaden Smith as a non-white weirdo. Sans white privilege, quirky is just weird, a marker of being “too white” “not ______ enough” “strange” “poser” “swag jacking” “fake fan” “if you’re ~really~ into ________ you should know *obscure unimportant fact used to obscure the fact I’m an insecure jerk*”
Jaden Smith owes us nothing, but he keeps being unapologetically, unabashedly himself, breaking down traditional structures around masculinity, celebrity, and what being a teen is all about. He might not dress up in a cape, but he might just be the hero we need.
“Any last words?”
Jaden would have laughed at how fucking cliché the whole scene was if it hadn’t been happening to him. Any last words? Really? He had half a mind to spout a pithy insult, but with blood trickling out of his mouth and what felt like two broken ribs, he couldn’t think of any.
He opened his mouth to speak.
“Bend your fucking knees.”
Jaden winced as he hit the roof, more at Willow’s admonition than the pain in his knees. It was 2 AM, meaning that what always started as a sharp pain had dulled down to an uncomfortable ache. He knew better, he’d been jumping between rooftops for almost a year now, but still; he could never remember in the moment, always letting his mind focus on a million other things; the sound of wind whipping past his ears, the pressure of the mask on his face, the plummeting sensation in his gut as gravity grasped him.
He kept running, pain shooting up his knees as the next precipice approached.
“What are you gonna do to stop me?”
The first night. A mob enforcer with an aluminum baseball bat and anabolically-birthed musculature that Michelangelo would have wept to behold. Jaden gripped the mace in his left hand a little tighter, contemplating what, exactly, he could do to stop him. He stepped forward and the enforcer did too, a sneer twisting his pale face in the streetlight. The enforcer swung his bat and Jaden leapt back, letting the thug’s momentum carry him off-balance, then rushing forward, swinging his mace hard into the man’s ribs. A body crushed against the plexiglass window of a storefront, fractured ribs bloodying cotton shirt as the man slumped to the ground in pain.
Jaden stomped on his face; lights out.
“There’s nowhere to run now little boy.”
Jaden was actually cornered. Three on one and he had his back to a solid brick wall. He gripped his mace, quickly evaluating the situation. One with a crowbar, one with a knife, and one with a gun. They were advancing slowly on him, biding their time.
Then Willow dropped off the roof above, landing on Gun with a Rice Krispy crackling of bone. Jaden reacted instinctually, diving forward for Knife’s ankles while Willow went straight for Crowbar, punching him in the throat before he even had a chance to react. Jaden saw Crowbar double over in his peripheral vision as he laid on the ground, then saw double; Knife pinned him down, punched him in the face; Willow kneed Crowbar in the nose. Jaden rolled, flipping positions with Knife before grabbing Knife’s hair and bashing their skull back against the pavement, once, twice.
“Why were they after you?”
He wondered the same.
“You know you look ridiculous, right?”
Jaden looked at himself in the mirror. Black Timbs, bulletproof vest over a hoodie, shin guards and kneepads over fitted sweats, a DIY Maison Margiela mask that glittered in the light. Willow was right, he did look ridiculous.
“Do you even have a superhero name?”
“We won’t need names.”
For the first time since he’d told her his plan, Willow smiled.
“Any last words?”
Staring down the barrel of a gun, reliving days yet to come. The officer above him was shrouded in headlights, red and blue bouncing off the alley walls.
Jaden opened his mouth to speak.
A gunshot echoed around the alley.
Jaden blinked; blood was streaming from his shoulder, pooling beneath him.
Where the officer had been, now stood Willow, illuminated as though heaven-sent, a baseball bat resting across her slim shoulders.
“Come on. We have work to do.”