Jaden Smith Posts Video Of Himself Crying On Instagram, Sparking Discussion About Gen Z's New Approach To Masculinity

Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, posted a video on Valentine's Day of himself sobbing on Instagram, along with a message about how much he loves his fans. The out-of-context video sparked a conversation about how Gen Z has redefined masculinity and how it's affecting the younger generations.

By Gina Florio4 min read
Getty/Jon Kopaloff

He was only 5 years old when he started acting, and Jaden Smith still finds himself in the spotlight nearly 20 years later. He's the son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who have been at the heart of multiple controversies in the last couple years, and he has acted on the big screen with his father in movies such as The Pursuit of Happyness and After Earth. Jaden has since started his own music career and has a robust following on social media—nearly 2 million followers on TikTok and more than 19 million followers on Instagram. His photos and videos are sometimes confusing to his fans, as is some of his fashion, but he has become something of an icon for Gen Z, especially because of his outspoken opinions on race issues in America. On February 14, Jaden posted a short clip of himself crying while standing outside, leaving some people perplexed and others proud of his modern spin on traditional masculinity.

Jaden Smith Posted a Video of Himself Crying on Social Media on Valentine's Day

In a reel that now has more than 17 million views, Jaden posted a clip of himself standing outside on a walking trail, crying uncontrollably into the camera. He filmed the selfie video himself and briefly showed the landscape around him. He didn't say anything in the video, just showed himself sobbing. "I Love My Fans I Love Our Journeys This Family is Our Fortress. I Should write something about emotions and how they’re okay or whatever but honestly I just found this video in my phone. 🌈🍄❤️💙" he wrote in the caption.

Many people are speculating that he did a mushroom trip, considering the mushroom emoji in his caption. Jaden has talked about the power of psychedelics before, and in an interview with MR PORTER Journal, he said that "mushrooms are going to help us expand consciousness." He also claimed that "trees are as real as humans." He named one of his latest clothing collections Trippy Summer and talked about how his experience with mushrooms was an inspiration for this line of clothes. "The collection is not just clothes to sell," he said. "It’s loaded with spiritual experiences and mystical states. We’re just making clothes that can go along with people’s journeys.”

In 2021, Jaden also talked about how using mushrooms helped him with his mental health. He said he "understood what ego was for the first time" when he did psychedelics. "And for the first time, I had, like, an ego dissolution where I was like…that was the moment that really changed me." He said, "You get to a place in your life where you're blocked by something, whether it's a trauma, whether it's your emotions, your ego, and not being able to express yourself, and then I feel like psychedelics are a way to tear down that wall and see what's beyond it.”

Presumably, Jaden was using mushrooms when he filmed that video, which may have unlocked some feelings that he had about his life, his fans, and "our journeys." Shortly after he posted the video, the internet responded in various different ways. Many mocked him for his antics, such as comedian Joey B. Toonz, who said in a YouTube video, "This is either extreme narcissism or a cry for help."

However, others praised Jaden for his honesty and vulnerability. Many people started to comment about how this type of content is necessary for boys to see because it tears down archaic notions that men shouldn't show emotion in public. Needless to say, a conversation about masculinity ensued, and many considered whether this type of behavior is helping or hurting Gen Z.

Does Gen Z Have a Better Take on Masculinity Than Previous Generations?

Celebrities and influencers try to claim that Gen Z has a new, fresh take on masculinity that is going to help move society forward. In the past, we were always taught that men shouldn't cry in public; they should be stoic, strong, and steady. Women were traditionally known as the fairer sex that has more emotional ups and downs, and that's precisely why men need to keep it together. But this notion has been challenged recently, leaving many Gen Zers questioning whether we've gotten it all wrong about masculinity in the past.

There is a way to be in touch with your emotions as a man that still honors your masculinity.

Figures like Harry Styles, Timothée Chalamet, and Lil Nas X have intentionally pushed the boundaries of what it means to act like a man and dress like a man. Harry is known for wearing dresses while he performs on stage, and Timothée has become a teenage heartthrob who dresses androgynously. Jaden Smith is also one of these Gen Z icons who has purposely made people think twice about masculinity. In 2015, he wore a dress to his high school prom; he was 16 years old, and he took Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games star) as his date. The next year, Jaden posed for Louis Vuitton—for their new women's line of clothing. He wore a black skirt with a mesh tank top, and he posed next to a few female models.

Since then, Jaden has been known to dress outside the box. But even more than that, Jaden has been known to challenge masculinity norms, just like his fellow Gen Z gender benders like Harry and Timothée. The rise of these celebrities has many people wondering if we should throw out the traditional rulebook on masculinity altogether and start from scratch. So when Jaden posted his crying video on Instagram, he received many comments of praise and adoration for his bravery.

"This is so beautiful. If more boys and men realized that there’s nothing wrong with experiencing the full range of human emotions the world would be a much better place. But that can only begin when the rest of us provide a safe space for them when they do. Sadly, some of these comments perpetuate the lie that something is wrong with a human being BEING a human being. No matter their gender, race or creed, EVERYONE deserves the right to cry," someone commented.

"He’s truly feeling, what black men feel everyday, and scare too express daily. This is art and shouldn’t be labeled as anything less than being apart manhood [sic]," another person wrote.

We need men to provide structure, not bring on more chaos.

It's fair to say that men have long been discouraged from showing any emotion in public. That's why so many individuals of the younger generation have been trying to rewrite the relationship between men and their emotions. However, there is a way to be in touch with your emotions as a man that still honors your masculinity—and that doesn't involve crying uncontrollably in a selfie video while you're taking a hike. What makes men incredibly effective, attractive, and useful is their ability to control themselves—control their aggression, their propensity for danger, and their emotions. It's perfectly fine if we want to encourage men to have a healthy outlet for their emotions rather than bottling everything up for years on end (which is particularly unhealthy for men who have experienced trauma, fought in wars, etc.), but we should still encourage men to hold onto their best masculine qualities while getting familiar with their emotions. That means still controlling the moment and environment in which they tap into their emotions.

Gen Z has good intentions, for the most part. They want to right many of the wrongs that have been passed down from previous generations, and one could argue that they're onto something when it comes to masculinity and emotions. We should encourage men to find outlets for their anger and sadness, whether it's martial arts, physical exertion, talk therapy, or a men's group. Nobody benefits from bottling up their emotions, including men. However, Gen Z's solution to this just produces more chaos in our culture. It's not helpful for men to cry openly in public on a whim, to film themselves having an emotional breakdown and share it to the world. Because we still need men to be steady protectors and providers. This is where Gen Z generally gets it wrong; they deny that men and women are inherently different and thus have different roles in life. So they refuse to admit that we need men to stay grounded and even-keeled so that women can focus on nurturing, mothering, and bringing beauty into the world. So while men should be in touch with their emotions, it's not good for our society when men are openly emotional without any boundaries. We need them to provide structure, not bring on more chaos. And men are perfectly capable of doing that while also being in touch with their emotions.