We’ve been talking about Will Smith‘s recent promotional trip to Dubai. It’s important to note that it wasn’t his first time there. Far from it: as one local news report explained, he “visits Dubai all the time.” He first set foot in Dubai “about 15 years ago.” In 2014, he went there to celebrate the birthday of a singer friend who goes by the name of Tyrese.
He loves the place. At the press conference about his new picture, Suicide Squad, he praisedDubai’s golf courses. He hailed its WiFi. He gushed over its movie theaters and skydiving.
He was quick to point out, moreover, that his kids (and fellow superstars) Willow and Jaden share his love for the United Arab Emirates. They performed there last year. And Willow went back “just a couple of months ago.” On that trip, “she FaceTime’d me from out in the desert on a camel.” Will volunteered that he thought “the cross of modern technology and the region’s ancient mode of transportation” exemplified by her using FaceTime while perched atop a dromedary was “beautiful. Really beautiful.”
Smith explained that, in addition to promoting his movie, one reason for his Dubai visit was his disgust over Islamophobia in America. He made it clear that he regards some Americans’ concerns about Islam as ignorant and misinformed. “I’m in Dubai and I’m having fun and I’m tweeting and I’m showing pictures,” he said cheerily. “Hey, doesn’t look like they hate me, does it?”
No, they sure don’t. Not as long as he’s ready, willing, and eager to provide the United Arab Emirates with such stellar PR.
But seriously: the man is so narcissistic, apparently, that his test of a country’s moral compass is how it treats him. Him. Not anyone else. Him. Period.
One question, though. Is this self-styled “student of world religion” as ignorant as he appears to be about the horrific reality underlying the shining towers of Dubai? Or is it just that he doesn’t give a damn about how Dubai treats others, so long as it treats him like a prince?
The big news that came out of Smith’s press conference was this: he’s so fond of Dubai that, as one local journalist put it, “he hopes to soon make a movie in the Middle East about the Middle East.” Smith himself said that he “had a couple of ideas” for pictures and admitted that he’d met “a few times” with Dubai’s film commission. “I love it here,” he effused, “and I’d love to be a part of the mining of stories from this region.”
But his main reason for wanting to make a film in Dubai, he emphasized, is not personal but educational. As one Emirates reporter put it, “he wants to help teach his home country more about the region.” Or, to quote Smith’s own words: “The Middle East can’t allow Fox News to be the arbiter of its imagery. Cinema is a huge way to be able to deliver the truth of the soul of a place to a global audience.”
That wasn’t all. He had even more to say about the wonders of Dubai. “Dubai,” he pronounced, “dreams the way I dream.”
Meaning what? We’ll finish up tomorrow.