Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s marriage, including the version that apparently involved singer August Alsina, has left tongues wagging yet again.
But this time it’s because August has finally given fans something to work with, following long-term speculation and cryptic "clues" from all three parties, by alleging that Will “gave him his blessing” to "have an affair" with Jada.
August, who is 27, sparked refreshed rumours in March 2019 that he had a relationship with 48-year-old Jada with his song "Nunya" because the video featured a GIF of Pinkett Smith.
Now, in a new interview on The Breakfast Club podcast to promote his YouTube documentary StateofEMERGEncy: The Rise of August Alsina and his new album, the singer claims that he had a relationship with Pinkett Smith for a number of years.
However, a representative for Pinkett Smith has told Page Six that August’s claims are “absolutely not true”.
August told host Angela Yee that:
I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation. Due to the transformation from their marriage to their life partnership that they spoken on several times, and not involving romanticism, he gave me his blessing.
I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life. I truly and really, really deeply loved, and have a ton of love for her. I devoted myself to it, I gave my full self to it. So much so to the point that I can die right now and be OK with knowing that I truly gave myself to somebody.
I really loved the person that I experienced that [with] and know what [that feels] like – if some people never get that in this lifetime.
I know that I am completely blessed and this conversation is difficult because it is so much, that it would be hard for people to understand but — once it starts to affect me and my livelihood — I have to speak up about my truth.
His revelation set the internet alight, with Jada’s name trending all through the night.
It's not the first time this week that Jada Pinkett Smith has been at the centre of online discourse. Over the weekend she dominated headlines for calling out YouTuber Shane Dawson after a video resurfaced of him pretending to masturbate over her daughter Willow when she was around 11 years old.
Pinkett Smith and her son Jaden's tweets on the issue are credited with bringing the YouTube drama into the mainstream.
So it's curious that just a few days later, a podcast to promote a YouTube series would thrust her relationship into the spotlight.
Online amateur sleuths were quick to try and find "evidence" of this alleged relationship, such as him appearing on Pinkett Smith's Facebook show Red Table Talk, or his song lyrics saying:
Why is you textin’ me / Asking who next to me / Why you care about who having sex with me / Now you all on my line, why you pressing me?
The video for the song featured a text conversation with a woman named Koren and a GIF of Pinkett Smith. Koren is Pinkett Smith's middle name.
Many revived old speculation around this 2018 clip which shows Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith discussing their relationship. At the time, it sparked rumours that they were in an open marriage.
In it, Pinkett Smith says:
I told him from the gate, if you marry me, we’re going to be together. We’re going to be under the same roof. You might be on one end of that joker with somebody else and I might be with somebody else, but we gone be in this joker together.
So what's the issue?
Firstly, as explained above, there's absolutely no evidence that this ever happened.
Alsina has clearly hinted at a relationship before, but that doesn't necessarily make it true. It's worth noting that he's benefiting from the exposure he's receiving from the whole debacle.
Secondly, even if hypothetically every word he spoke was accurate, what's the issue? By his own account, Pinkett Smith's husband knew about the relationship. Ergo, there was no "affair", no betrayal, no anything really, other than consenting adults making personal decisions about their own lives and bodies.
Further, the constant repeating of Will Smith giving them his "blessing" suggests that we believe – at least on some level – that women need men's permission in order to be allowed to have sexual autonomy.
What it tells us about society
While much has been written in recent years about different relationship models, including open relationships and polyamory, we can sometimes be fooled into believing that the progressive Twitter chat reflects real life.
Why is it than when we hear about a married woman potentially dating/seeing/hooking up with someone else, our mind automatically goes to "cheating"?
If the huge drama around this topic tells us anything, it's that most of society still isn't ready to see people embrace their sexuality and choose lives which reflect their individual priorities, especially if they don't fit into a traditional mould.
This is especially true when it comes to women, who the world still struggles to see as fully formed beings with sexual agency and autonomy. The idea that a woman married to a high profile man like Will Smith would want to open up a relationship is hard for people to grasp, but it shouldn't be.
In this hypothetical world where Alsina is telling the truth, neither Jada nor Will did anything other than manage their marriage how they saw fit, from a place of open-mindedness and honesty.
Whichever way you slice it, the 'affair' everyone's talking about never existed.
Reporting by Tobi Akingbade, analysis by Sirena Bergman