While I think the MAGA kids should’ve kept their mouths shut in the face of hate–because that’s what gay kids have to do daily–I’m also of a mind that Jussie Smollett is most likely one of the lowest, basest, and most despicable people on earth. Here’s why…..
Right now, after weeks of investigation by no fewer than a dozen different detectives, the police have arrested actor Jussie Smollett for reporting a fake hate crime. The details of the alleged attack are well publicized: two men in masks attacked recognized him at 2:00 to 3:00 AM while walking in Chicago, called out to him, attacked him, called him racist and homophobic slurs, and draped a noose about his neck. As they attacked him and called him names, the men allegedly yelled out, “This is MAGA country!” It turns out now that the men who assaulted Smollett were paid to do so by Smollett, himself.
A number of people pointed out problems with Smollett’s story from the outset:
- What were men in masks doing hanging about in sub-zero weather wearing masks carrying a noose?
- The men recognized Smollett from his role on Empire, a TV series about hip-hop. Why would white supremacists watch Empire to the point they could recognize one of the actors from the show?
- Why would a black man, for several minutes after being attacked, continue to wear a noose about his own neck?
The response from the Twits in the Twittersphere was immediate and predictable:
As a gay man, I was horrified by the initial report, yet I remained skeptical. At the time, it honestly sounded to me like a personal attack masquerading as a hate-crime, an assault meant to intimidate Smollett but over matters unrelated to race or sexuality. Having worked in Hollywood, I can attest to the fact that blackmail is the norm and shake-downs do happen. It felt like someone was trying to scare Smollett into paying for “protection” more than a genuine hate crime.
And perhaps things still aren’t what they seem in this case–maybe there’s another rabbit hole waiting to be discovered–but I doubt it. I think the story we have now is correct, that Jussie Smollett staged this incident and others in order to draw more notoriety to the show and to himself.
The current trend in the politics of young people is to be an activist. If one doesn’t claim activist status in some capacity, one is simply out of touch, incapable of understanding the big picture, and ignorant bordering on stupid. Activism is politics, left and right, and only those who stand firm for something are to be taken seriously. Or so the kids seem to think, at least….
Jussie Smollett wanted to be an activist. He wanted that status, that position in society. He wanted what he did–working in entertainment–to rise above and become something it isn’t. He wanted to fight the culture war the same way Ronald Reagan fought World War II–from the comfort and safety of a studio backlot just off Ventura Boulevard. But he needed the street cred, the purple heart of activism, the beatdown that beats you into the realization that what you’re doing matters. Without it, he was just as fake his role on Empire–an empty man living an empty life.
I was attacked by the police in Alabama when I was 17 for passing out condoms and literature in a public park known as a gay cruise spot. It was the late 1980s and AIDS seemed an unstoppable epidemic. I took my lumps and they drove me out of activism for safer shores. I made sure I had condoms and literature for all of my friends after that; forget getting punched by the pigs.
To stand strong after your blooding is damned near impossible. But Jussie Smollett was going to show us all how it was done. Jussie was going to be brave and put on a tough face, show those racist homophobic Trump supporters that he wouldn’t be intimidated.
It was another role, another line, another lie. Nothing more.
And that’s the worst crime of all here. Jussie Smollett was going to perpetrate a grand hoax on the gay and black communities by exhibiting extraordinary courage in the face of his attack. He was going to be a symbol we could all believe in, a man we could all admire with each bold word, with each rebuttal to the hate of his attackers. Jussie Smollett was going to become a leader based entirely on a lie; a leader for communities that desperately need honest and sincere leadership.
And in the process of becoming a leader for two disenfranchised groups of people, Jussie Smollett was going to achieve a philosophical coup by establishing once and for all that entertainment matters, that it’s real, and that acting qualifies as activism–the great and honorable professions in the new order would be farmers, physicians, and triple-threats.
Further, Smollett made his move at a time when tensions between various communities in America are running high. He capitalized on the growing divisions between left and right, black and white, gay and straight that currently plague society. His accusation was another log for the ctrl-Left to fuel the fires of hate.
Smollett’s case underscores a problem within the gay community, as well. We’ve made it a point to idolize and admire gay and trans people who come-out amidst privilege and security. Some old queen turns 75 and decides he’s going to tell the world the painfully obvious and, provided he’s a famous entertainer, we elevate him and regard him as some sort of spokesperson for an entire community. But the truth is that coming out of the closet with a party and media event at your mansion in the Hollywood hills isn’t quite the same as being outed at 16 in the trailer park on the bad side of Tupelo, Mississippi. George Takei and Caitlyn Jenner didn’t face being beaten to death by self-righteous parents with a child’s understanding of their professed faith.
If gay rights are to be secured permanently, we must end the cult of celebrity-worship and find genuine leaders with good ideas. Popularity contests won’t secure liberty for the gay and lesbian community in America; only viable ideas that produce action will win the war.
Smollett’s phantom attackers are also phantom victims. I deplore glossing over the hate heaped on real young men by false rape accusations when TV newscasters say things like, “The real victims in this are all the survivors who need help.” (No, the real victims of the UVA rape hoax like the real victims of the Duke rape hoax were the young men targeted by the accusers.) So while Smollett stoked the flames of hate against Trump-supporters, I can’t claim that Trump-supporters are victims in this. Smollett didn’t name anyone, didn’t target any specific set of Trump-supporters, and didn’t give descriptions of his attackers.
There’s a lot to unpack from the Smollett case. It exposes our irrational elevation of celebrities and our obsession with many erroneously believe to be activism. The gay community would do well to focus on the real problems, the unspectacular reality of hate that gay men still face today. It’s interesting to note that people of color and white trash can come together in hate–I guess we’ll take our social justice victories where we can find them.
That all said, there’s a small chance–very close to zero–that he’s being framed….