The following feature appears in the August 2016 issue of NYLON.
Jaden Smith is at a loss for words.
He tilts his head back to face the pitched ceiling of Milk’s massive Hangar studio in Los Angeles. “Do I have a favorite emoji? Uh…uh…probably…the—” He nods his head back down and a little to the left to give some gravitational assistance to his chin-length dreads that won’t stay flopped to the side. “The square emoji,” he says finally, punctuating his answer with a finger-gun gesture.
I’m puzzled, though not unexpectedly so. His response matches up with his entire social media persona—playfully profound à la Yoda or Mr. Miyagi (or Mr. Han, rather) with lines like “How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren’t Real” earning him Twitter oracle status. But, really, who can blame him for trolling us? Smith’s millions of followers clearly can’t get enough of his riddles, like the blank images he posts to Instagram that consistently generate roughly 20,000 likes each. On the other hand, could “square emoji” be a Beyoncé-style diss to conspiracy click-baiters who link his interest in pyramids and crystals to the Illuminati and bioterrorist cults? Is it irony? A cry for help? Or is it just a silly answer to an even sillier question?
Whatever it is, it’s a very Jaden Smith thing to say. And he offers it in a very Jaden Smith way—that is, thoughtfully, provocatively, and with the slightly up-to-no-good smirk of a kid making polite small talk with the parents of his prom date; all signs that point to the fact that while Smith may be the most recognized actor-musician-designer-model-thinker-artist of his generation, he is also very much an 18-year-old kid who happens to like skateboarding and Twilight a whole lot.
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