It’s worth prefacing this by appending it with a note: this is all so silly.
The affairs in the lives of the ultra-rich and famous, both in the romantic and the mundane sense of the word “affairs,” have never seemed less important than during a public health crisis. There are, to be frank, other things to worry about.
Watch: The Smiths open up about Jada’s “entanglement” with August Alsina. Story continues below.
Still, we’ve just witnessed the awkward birth of a hilarious meme. And if you’ve been spending any time on social media over the last couple of days, you might have caught wind of it unfolding between Jada Pinkett Smith, her husband, Will, and the American R&B singer August Alsina: suddenly, everyone is talking about “entanglements.”
And it’s not “entanglements” like fish getting caught up in nets, but “entanglements” like people getting caught up with each other. Married people getting caught up with single people. The menacing spectre of cheating — or something? Did Pinkett Smith have an affair with Alsina? How much did Will know about it? Did Will really give his “blessing” for their relationship?
The origins of the meme
Here’s the short of it: in a recent interview for his album press tour, Alsina, 27, confirmed rumours that he once had a romantic relationship with Jada, 48. “I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life, and I truly and really, really deeply loved and have a ton of love for her,” he told radio journalist Angela Yee.
He even got Will’s blessing, he alleged, before explaining that he doesn’t like to get involved in drama. (It makes him “nauseous.”) Drama ensued, and Pinkett Smith’s reps quickly decried the claims as “absolutely not true.” But then, on Thursday, the Smiths opted to go on Red Table Talk, Jada’s Facebook Watch talk show, to talk more openly about exactly what on earth was going on.
“We were over,” Jada explained to Will, and to us, emphasizing that the couple had been separated at the time. “From there, as time went on, I got into a different kind of entanglement with August.”
Seemingly amused at the word choice, Will pressed his wife. “An entanglement?” he said, before clarifying: “A relationship.”
“I was in a lot of pain, and I was very broken,” Jada countered.
The Smiths also addressed Alsina’s statement that Will had given them his “blessing,” which, perhaps unwittingly, further stoked pre-existing rumours that the pair are in an open marriage.
Jada : I didn’t cheat, it was an entanglement— TommyK (@Tom_myk) July 11, 2020
Will smith : pic.twitter.com/15vXkZ3Xn6
“The only person that can give permission in that particular circumstance is myself,” explained Jada. “I could actually see how he would perceive it as permission because we were separated amicably and I think he also wanted to make it clear that he’s also not a home-wrecker. Which he’s not.”
The actual meme
Almost immediately after the 12-minute video was published, the memes poured out. Screenshots of Will’s reactions. Riffs on standout lines from the conversation, ie. “BAD MARRIAGE FOR LIFE” said in unison with a fist bump. Mostly, the internet seemed fixated on Jada’s use of the word “entanglement,” a vague term to describe a situation that, by August’s account, seemed so profound and complex.
What does entanglement mean?— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) July 10, 2020
“What does entanglement mean?” Juicy J tweeted, foregoing a Google search to ask the right people the right question. The term seemed on par with Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” thing, jargon that reveals less than it obfuscates. Is it a relationship? Is it a fling? The situation is only funny because people have long been confused about the nature of Will and Jada’s marriage — is it open? — though they have, on multiple occasions, addressed it in public. Basically, it’s perfect for a meme.
And so a meme it became.
August: we were Jada: It was an— L🦋 (@Ladii_Lu) July 10, 2020
deeply in love!! entanglement. pic.twitter.com/B9hKIlLBGz
SEEKING: An Entanglement.— Cleo Ellis (@CleoEllis_) July 10, 2020
ABOUT: Single, female, 32, living in Toronto. I’m smart, funny & a little saucy. A well educated small business owner and freelancer, living alone. I’m an excellent cook, and I love to have fun!
Anyone interested in an entanglement, let’s connect 🤣 pic.twitter.com/6RUXeGQW1H
So what’s up with their marriage?
Memes aside, the reason all this happened is probably because people are confused about Will and Jada’s marriage. They’ve never really shied away from talking about the peaks and valleys of their relationship, so the Red Table Talk revelations aren’t so surprising.
The pair have been married since 1997, have two kids together — Jaden and Willow Smith — and are back together now after a prior split, during which “we decided,” said Will, “[that] we were going to separate for a period of time and you go figure out how to make yourself happy and I’ll figure out how to make myself happy.”
The reason people think they have an open marriage is probably because in 2013, Jada alluded to something like it in an interview with HuffPost.
“I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK,’” she said. “Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.”
Later, on Facebook, she clarified what she meant: “Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should ‘behave’? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of ‘you better act right or else’ keep one honest and true? [...] Here is how I will change my statement … Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship … this means we have a GROWN one.”
The years after that were marked by continued speculations, but in 2018, Will went on Tidal’s Rap Radar podcast to assure everyone that he and Jada were still going strong.
“We don’t even say we’re married anymore. We refer to ourselves as ‘life partners,’ where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life,” he explained. “There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do — ever — nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support ’til death, and it feels so good to get to that space.”
So to answer your question: Will and Jada (the couple) aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.