Free Press Journal

All ‘isms’ are about individual or group’s ego: Will Smith


Mumbai: Hollywood star Will Smith is in India to promote his Netflix movie “Bright” and the actor today said all the ideologies are governed by an individual or group’s need to feel superior than others.

The 49-year-old actor, who stars as “racist” human cop in sci-fi action-crime drama, said it was interesting to be on the other side. He said his role in the Netflix movie made him understand that even the struggle to get rid of these ideologies is motivated by this sense of superiority.

“What I realised – it’s not just racism, it’s all the ‘isms’ (the ideologies). Racism, sexism, class-ism, nationalism – all of the -isms are about the individual or group’s ego struggle for comparative superiority. Everybody wants to feel like they are better than somebody. Even a fight against racism is laced with an individual’s need to feel superior.

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“I never saw it that way. So, both sides of any -ism, one of them is winning, so you’re having an argument that is winning, so the other side feels inferior. Both sides are struggling for superiority,” Smith said at a media round table here. The actor is currently in India along with the director of the movie, David Ayer, and co-stars Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace.

Smith said while playing the character he, for the first time, understood “the negative reaction to the word, diversity.” “We say ‘diversity’, as if we mean ‘equality’, But really what diversity means – I’m going to use this term for me to get higher than you,” he added.

Smith said the debate about racism has become more complicated for him post the film as it has made him aware about the consequences of the fight for “superiority”. “This role – really made me see that it is really difficult, almost what feels like a covert struggle for superiority and the problem got more complex — can’t say it got a lot easier in my mind, it got difficult.

“But looking at racism from this perspective… I comprehended the aspects of fear, ignorance and the individual and collective struggle that perpetuates and precipitates the violence,” he said. The actor, however, said the film does not aim at highlighting the issues like racism, but focuses on “how poorly we treat one another”.

“I think that anytime you’re creating, you can’t help but the world makes its way into the art. We didn’t talk about it specifically in those terms. We talked more specifically about the overarching social ideas of mistreatment and how poorly we treat one another. That was part of what David (Ayer) wanted to illustrate in the film,” Smith said when asked whether his fantasy action was about the present day America. “It’s like we were saying (in the film) the Dark Lord is coming. We weren’t thinking of Donald Trump,” he quipped. “Bright” is set to be released on Netflix on December 22.