Will Smith’s YouTube Series Inspires Me to Appreciate How I, Too, Am Washed
The Reinvention of Will Smith feels like a Hollywood promo machine despite its reach at authenticity. Smith’s tactics are earnest but old hat. The main difference between the TikTok and YouTube-generated fame of today and the celebrity industrial complex that produced Smith is a bias toward lo-fi, homegrown aesthetics. The once-megastar can’t help that high-gloss blockbuster is his default setting, no matter how many vlogs he’s consumed in his studious stride to renewed relevance. He’s washed and no amount of selfie video confessionals or impromptu live streams will make him feel or look less washed. His 64 million TikTok subscribers and 57 million Instagram followers beg to differ though. He’s successful because he knows, chromosomally, what audiences crave and can deliver that to the letter. He doesn’t care if it’s an Instagram Reel or a Netflix binge.
As a child of the 90s, nostalgia determines the type of hackneyed star-gazing content I’m willing to consume. Besides that, most of what’s marketed to me is rooted in the promise that it will warm me with familiarity for whatever it lacks in freshness. I‘ll allow the Fresh Prince to enter my feed even if his multiple box-office duds form caution clouds around him. No one goes to the movies anyhow. And what’s the harm in Smith’s saccharine self-improvement oversharing? Brené Brown drives a similar brand of vulnerability-at-all-costs to a million-dollar peak. Guru-ism helps people even if it’s often a well-dressed placebo. Or an over-the-hill leading man.
The way this relates is that I’m starting my yearly fitness gauntlet — one I’ve written about here. And I need motivation. I love Smith’s ability to look at life as one big incomplete project, a queue of unseized opportunities. While I remain ashamed of my spectacular burnout, falling to 11 p.m. Uber Eats orders months after ascetic, low-sugar discipline, the Hollywood champ burrows his failures for kindling. Even though his YouTube series “Best Shape of My Life” dissects the ways his ever-ready humor and need to please is a trauma response — starting with military presses and ending at tearful readings of his salacious biography — the endpoint is the same: a win for Will.