Jussie Smollett rises; alter ego Jamal Lyon takes a dive (#Empire)
Well, first of all, here's the thing: I grew up in the business. I know about homophobia in the music industry — not just in hip-hop. Obviously, we're dealing with homophobia in hip-hop, we're dealing with homophobia in the black community. We're dealing with homophobia in the black community and in hip-hop because we're telling the story of a family that is a hip-hop family that is black. But that in no way is to let any other group of people off the hook, as if this is an isolated issue just simply in the black community. I have Jewish friends, I have Middle Eastern friends, I have Spanish and Italian and British and Scottish and German friends and Austrian friends, and guess what? They all deal with homophobia. It's an earthling epidemic, it's not isolated in the black community. So it's definitely a story that Lee wanted to get out there, and it's a story that I'm proud that we're telling. But this is a universal story of people that are not respected and understood, and we all can relate to that, whether we're gay, straight, bi, transgender.First of all, actor Jussie Smollett totally wins the internet with this quote because in America, we like to racialize, genderize, sexualize - in short, Otherize - problems in order to avoid actually having to deal with them. Case in point: Misogyny and homophobia are a big problem in the American music industry? That's okay. Just blame hip hop and the black community, and business will comfortably continue as usual.
~ Jussie Smollett (Source)
I'm bringing this up again because of last week's episode of Empire. If you're a fan of the show, then you know Smollett's alter ego Jamal Lyon has spent years fighting with his father Lucious (Terrence Howard) about his sexuality. Lucious doesn't believe Jamal can become a big star if he's openly gay. Jamal disagrees. He repeatedly proves he has more musical talent than his father; Jamal can make other artists sound hot as well as himself, and he can teach musicians while recording a new track at the same time.
Jamal is also the only one of Lucious's children to declare his "obedience is no longer for sale"; he spits on his father's (considerable) money and bounces off to live on his own with his boyfriend Michael. And after living in ratchet holes and recording tracks in bullet-ridden studios, it looks like Jamal's efforts are starting to pay off. His song "Keep Your Money" (dedicated to Daddy, of course) is gaining followers, he and his beau are living in a better place now, and he lands a Satellite Radio interview with none other than Sway.
Ahhhh...but there's the rub. When Sway asks Jamal point-blank what his lady thinks about his newest song, Jamal the fighter, Jamal the rebel, the same Jamal who doesn't care what anyone thinks...fumbles and panics and dodges the question. He even goes so far to say he's single. It visibly devastates his boyfriend.
So on the one hand....
Dude, WTF??? You have an army of fans cheering you on every time you tell your Daddy to kiss your ass, or when you tell Cookie that you want to come out publicly. So what happened, bruh? You were a powerhouse, unstoppable. The way you punched
Which brings us to....
Do you guys realize just how loaded the boyfriend/girlfriend, are-you-married-or-single question is? Like, I realize the character Jamal fumbled because, well, that's the script. This is a nighttime soap and "twists" like these are meant to drag out storylines and create drama. Okay. Fine. I can play the detached writer game...for now anyway.
But really, though...this episode got me thinking, because as an interviewer, I sometimes do it too. In a psychosocial real-world situation, do people realize just how loaded a question is when they're inquiring about your romantic life? It seems like there's no right answer. If they don't flinch at/recoil from your sexual orientation, then they look down on you for being single after "a certain age". If you're attached, then they start sizing you and your significant other up, and though they don't always admit it allow, one of you is always somehow too good for the other in some way. And the ones who DO voice their verdict don't realize (or don't care) just how offensive and inappropriate their declaration is.
Something to think about when interacting with people.
Which brings us back to....
Hey, Jamal...for the record, the correct answer to Sway's question was something along the lines of this:
"I don't actually have a lady, but I do want to give a shout-out to my main man Michael, love of my life, been with me through thick and thin...baby, I know you're watching right now, I love you, miss you, appreciate all of your support, can't wait to see you when I get home."