The power of nostalgia runs roughshod over all those who stand in its way. Sentimentality for the past does damage to the present, as philosophers from Kant to Jameson have argued, forcing contemporary experience to be warped by a constricting idealization of what came before. And no one knows this better than Will Smith, international movie star and avatar for one thousand years of human history. Which is why the icon recently took a stand against the idea of rejiggering his past as a TV star, telling E! News that a Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air reboot would only come “when hell freezes over.” Actually, he said it to his Suicide Squad costar, Margot Robbie, during a segment when the two were forced to interview each other, because that’s what we do to our celebrities these days.
“We’re going to leave that one alone,” the actor says, smiling and jocular, even as his soul screams against the demand of historical memory, yearning to be pulled back into the present. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s averse to Bad Boys 3 and 4, currently scheduled for 2017 and 2018 respectively, but that might just be his punishment for After Earth. Still, whenever he squints into the horizon, attempting to see what’s on the next hill, there will be a small figure perched on the edge of his peripheral vision, Day-Glo hat twisted sideways, exhorting him to stop trippin’ and initiate another dance battle with Alfonso Ribeiro. That voice will never go away.