I guess it's not too surprising that Empire's TV star will have his courtroom trial open to the cameras for a sort of "reality TV" show of its own.
After all the twists and turns this bizarre story has already taken, it feels like not televising the courtroom drama wouldn't do this story justice. But before we start binge-watching this new real-life mini-series, we need to ask ourselves how we got to this point in the first place. What in the world, would drive a successful TV star to allegedly create his own hate crime hoax? And why didn't the media address any of the serious red flags that came along with the strange story from the very beginning, instead opting to rush full-steam ahead with the juicy narrative?
Well, first there's the money issue. Now $125,000 per episode doesn't seem like a bad gig to me. But according to Chicago Police that wasn't enough for Smollett. And he wasn't happy about a potentially diminished role on the hit show Empire either. Then, there's his recent audition for a Tony Award-Winning play, "Take Me Out," where the lead character undergoes an attack eerily similar to the one Jussie himself suffered.
Then, there's his recent audition for a Tony Award-Winning play, "Take Me Out," where the lead character undergoes an attack eerily similar to the one Jussie himself suffered.
Now I'm no genius, but staging your own mugging doesn't seem to be the right way to go about landing a new job, or increasing your salary. It just doesn't make sense at all. Until you realize it does. It makes perfect sense.
To Jussie, this hate crime hoax was the quickest way to the top. And if he wouldn't of botched the execution, he would have got away with it too. Spend any serious amount of time watching 24-hour cable news, and you'll catch on to the national narrative really quickly. It goes something like this. The media, celebrities, and the press are in a never-ending war with the current President, and by extension, his supporters. You see, the media paints themselves as the good guys, and basically anyone who disagrees with them as the bad guys.
The media paints themselves as the good guys, and basically anyone who disagrees with them as the bad guys.
Jussie understands this game. And he intended to use these new rules to his advantage. He knows the elevation victims of hate crimes receive in the media. Wall to wall coverage. Countless interviews and appearances. Potentially lucrative book deals and the like. As a vocal dissident to the President, along with his race and sexual orientation, he would be victim number one - a hot commodity for any outlet looking to spike their clicks, views, or reach.
Hate Blinds Us from the Truth
As the story of the mugging picked up steam, details that should have made journalists stop and ask more questions were glossed over in favor of advancing a narrative that just had to be true. Questions like: How did the two assailants know you would be outside of a Subway at 2 a.m.? Why were they carrying a noose and bleach in-hand that freezing night in Chicago? Chicago voted for Clinton by more than 65%...who would call it "Maga Country?" Where they really both wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats? Both of them? At the same time? Really?
When we just know that something has to be true, we don't stop to think through the details or ask more questions. We're blinded by our bias, and in this case, blinded by our hate. Jussie knew this story would catch like wildfire, and catch it did. Check out this little mashup for just a taste of how quickly this spread:
Amazing isn't it?
If only victims of real crime could get that type of attention.
Supply and demand of hatred
Does hate crime exist in America? Sure. Do people of color and members of the gay and transgender communities get exposed to hate? I imagine so. Does hatred permeate every fiber of our being and consume our thoughts day and night? Not even close.
Does hatred permeate every fiber of our being and consume our thoughts day and night? Not even close.
Watch nonstop cable news or entertainment talk shows, and you'll get a very different picture of America than the one you'll experience if you go out and talk with people in your local community. While their focus is on the triggers that send people into clickable, watchable tirades, most real people living their lives in this country just want to be treated fairly. They want a good job, a family, friends, and the freedom to pursue the things they enjoy - not bring hatred and destruction into the lives of others.
The truth of this weird and wild story is that Jussie Smollett wasn't under attack. He doesn't walk the streets of Chicago (one of the countries most progressive cities) in fear. He's a TV celebrity that, for the most part, was respected in the industry and admired by his fans. Before this incident, the average person probably didn't know the name, Jussie Smollett, and certainly hadn't heard anything bad about him. He knew a hate crime would elevate him from a mid-tier name to an A-list star. The only problem was that there wasn't that much hate to go around. In Jussie Smollett's case, his demand for a hate crime just couldn't meet the supply.
He knew a hate crime would elevate him from a mid-tier name to an A-list star.
Does America have problems? Yes. A bunch of them. But if we can stop looking at our phones and start looking at the people around us, I bet we will find we have a lot more love for our fellow man than hate. And if we keep our minds open, and listen to one another, we may even end up making friends with someone from the evil, other side, instead of pushing this new hate-filled narrative time after time.