BY JEANETTE LENOIR
I have to admit, when news broke of the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett, I had to Google the name first. I haven’t seen the popular show Empire; however, I am familiar with the series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Mainly because I love reading about Taraji P. Henson and her character Cookie that has taken a life of its own. Now I know Smollett plays Cookie’s middle son Jamal, who is gay. Here’s my other confession; I was suspicious from the start. Organic skepticism aside, the story just didn’t sound believable to me considering time and setting. It sounded like a lie. Not a white, black, blue or pink lie but a big fat lie like the ones our dear leader Donald Trump buoys on to con the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump sniffed it out of Smollett’s lie hole like a terrier after a rat, automatically prompting him to chime in on the controversy. It’s true folks, the 45th president of the United States is not just the best liar on earth; Smollett proves he’s also the best lie magnet…allegedly.
Each day, following the alleged homophobic and racist attack and the outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians, my skepticism grew, along with many others who voiced their opinions on social media. The incident reported by Smollett even birthed a new media campaign addressing the real issues facing the LGBTQ community. The NowThis video, (It’s been taken down) supporting Jussie and condemning the homophobic attack is unfortunately relevant in today’s society, with or without Smollett making up a hate crime. And, if it’s proven to be a hoax concocted by Smollett to remain relevant as an Empire character or gay black hero among people of color and the gay community, he’s done irreversible harm to the larger struggle for human rights. Smollett, chasing the predictable outcome lure that promises fame, more fortune, more likes and followers, more time under the glare of flashing lights, red carpet events and awards shows, is crashing like a shooting star. And, Smollett is a star, don’t you know. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and now he’s paying a heavy price for his Hollywood moment. It’s hard to comprehend but Smollett should only remind us that Hollywood is a hoax, too. And, despite how tantalizing it is to use this cheap trick to further or discredit the arguments around the many social movements of our time, Smollett’s alleged behavior has nothing to do with US but everything to do with HIM. He’s the product of our new digital world…the era of social media and a real thirst or desperation for attention; good or bad. They say the thirst is real. Well, Smollett proves he’s not just thirsty; he’s parched. The man needs a Big Gulp and a dose of reality, not our sympathy.
A lot of people are disappointed and point to Black History Month as a symbol of the alleged incident being a deeper pain, like a gut punch to the black community. Others have maintained their support for the actor and raise the other real issue of a fractured relationship between Chicago police and the community they serve. All of these are valid points and worthy of deeper analysis. However, in legal terms and in the court of public opinion; it’s like coming to court with dirty hands or committing a wrong to shine light on what’s right. It doesn’t work. It’s clear; Smollett’s alleged hoax carries real consequences. And if his aim was to sip from the “Thirst Cup,” he’s finding out the hard way that bad behavior still comes with punishment, despite what Trump is doing. We’ve been here before with the likes of Smollett. Milli Vanilli blamed it on the rain. What will Smollett blame this nonsense on? Although dated, the wisdom here is still to Be Like Mike … not like Trump.