Is Jussie Smollett getting his fair share of unfair treatment from the media and the general public? It’s important to ask because of how unique the whole scandal is. Gay, black actor stars in a show in which his character suffers great discrimination. Then, said gay, black actor allegedly stages a hate crime targeting his sexuality and race. What do we do with the sympathy/empathy we had for his character? And what do we do with the sympathy/empathy we had for him? Let’s not forget that his claim that his attackers wore MAGA hats, keyed into popular anti-Trump sentiments. What do you as a Trump hater, do when the enemy of your enemy has empowered your enemy by being caught in a lie? I suspect that Smollett is enjoying a layer of immunity-from-persecution because these years, many people restrain themselves from coming after members of the LGBT community.
Imagine if it was straight Kevin Hart who happens to play a straight character, and this happened. Well it’s still hard to imagine because sympathy for Smollett didn’t really come from the fact that he’s black; it was really his sexual orientation. And that begs the question; is he really gay? Or is it politically incorrect to ask that?
One big irony in this Smollett matter is that the alleged ruse wasn’t masterminded by the Nigerian brothers in the tale, even though there has often been a perception of Nigerians as being scam artists. One might say that Smollett approached the two Nigerian brothers to participate in the ruse exactly because of that perception. Well, whatever; the plot was masterminded by an American. Hey, where in Africa does Jussie trace his roots to?
The whole debacle reminds us that there are people who milk their challenges. Smollett may be on Empire but we can easily see the real life him as a character in Breaking Bad. He would be sitting in Saul Goodman’s office, wearing bandages while Goodman would come up with a way to make money from a lawsuit.
And that brings us to the third stereotype which Smollett allegedly exploited; the gentleman who can’t fight back. That’s no longer the gay stereotype; the two are separate in case you haven’t noticed. At this point we wouldn’t be surprised if Smollett is very good at defending himself and could actually beat up the two Nigerian Brothers simultaneously like Daredevil would.
Even more worrisome is the fact that if his alleged ruse had worked he would have easily become a civil rights icon. Jussie and his family already have a history of participating in civil rights movements. He would have been become popular like Colin Kapernick. He’s probably not oblivious to the fact that kapernick got a Nike deal.
I genuinely feel sorry for Smollett and I wish the world would forgive him. I hope my sympathy doesn’t come from the idea that he only did what he did because Hollywood is tough for black actors. Nah, I think he’s just an easy guy to like. If the LGBT community won’t side with him now, and if the black community won’t side with him then maybe he needs support from the community of public figures who once made mistakes. To lie is human and he won’t be the first personality to get caught being dishonest. Unfortunately anybody from the community of disgraced but forgiven public figures who comes to his aid will have to play on one of those stereotypes.