Willow Smith’s “Summer Fling”: Great Art or Premature Growth?

July 11th, 2013

(Photo: MELODIC CHAOTIC MUSIC VIA YOUTUBE)

By Moriba Cummings

It’s summertime – everyone’s hot, out and wants some company, even if just for the season. These are usually the sentiments of single young adults, but not for a 12-year-old, right? Is it a thought that is too grown for adequate conception for a soon-to-be adolescent? Judging from Willow Smith’s controversial new music video titled “Summer Fling,” it’s all in good fun, but where is the line between fun and practicality drawn?

Though her time in the industry has been brief thus far, the youngest of the Smith clan has already notoriously earned a reputation of being unapologetic. From flaunting her advocacy for “girl power” to confidently rocking daringly questionable ensembles and hair colors, little Willow has always given the world the impression that she’s just a girl having fun.

How does one go from whipping her hair at the age of nine to boasting a “summer fling” just three years later?

“The bright sun and the blue water, we fight less and love harder. You tell me that I’m the one, I tell you it’s just fun,” Willow croons over temperate piano riffs while gently clasping the hand of a noticeably older male in the song’s visual. “We walk the beach at midnight and watch the stars and the clear skies. We both say I love you, but it’s alright.”

While the context of the song and specifically its visual are sure to rub fans, music aficionados, parents, and conservatives the wrong way, that may have ultimately been the eventual intent, especially considering the boldness and intentionality of the video.

Having garnered more than 650,000 views to date, the YouTube issued music video saw commenters express their concerns, deeming the “sexualization of a child” an epidemic that is all too common in today’s modern society. One commenter’s view on the young singer’s nurtured carefree persona had many in agreement.

“This child is too young for this grown-up stuff,” read the comment. “I don’t care how care free the Smiths are with their children. This is just too much. At this age I didn’t even know what a fling was let alone did I want to be around some boy twirling around the woods.”

With the words “love” and “fling” being loosely tossed around in the track, listeners are brought to ponder “What does a 12-year-old really know about ‘that life?’” The answer is simple: nothing; that is what makes this “issue” irrelevantly obscure. True artistry is encompassed by experimentation and mental growth and due to Willow’s considerably tender age, she still is in the artistic realm of self-discovery and this product is a firm indication of that.

Generating more than 2,000 thumbs down, the video continues to stir controversy, sparking a conversation that may have otherwise been ignored. Isn’t one of the ultimate purposes of music to generate conversation and thought? If so, in technical terms, this could be considered “good music.”

From an unrelated but ironically relevant perspective, Jay-Z recently said in an interview with Power 105’s The Breakfast Club that great art “forces you to have an opinion.” Therefore, based on the response of “Summer Fling,” this constitutes “great art.” Though its approach may be questionable – like much of Willow’s actions often are – it cannot be ignored that she is an artist and a growing being in search of her voice both musically and possibly introspectively.

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