Empire - Fake Jussie Smollett Attack

Jussie Smollett has been suspended from the current season of FOX’s music industry drama Empire. The decision comes after the actor was arrested for allegedly staging a hate crime attack against himself in Chicago.

At the end of January, Jussie Smollett was hospitalized after allegedly being the victim of a hate crime attack in Chicago. At the time, Smollett claimed two men attacked him in the streets of Chicago with some kind of chemical substance. They also supposedly wrapped a noose around his neck, yelled racial slurs and homophobic remarks, and even referenced the infamous “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan used by Donald Trump and his supporters.

In the past week, Chicago investigators learned that this attack may have been staged by Smollett. Authorities then released an official statement saying Smollett was upset by his salary and seeking publicity, so he plotted a fake attack one week after writing himself a threatening letter. This came after an outpouring of support from the Empire cast and crew, other fellow actors, political pundits, and assorted LGBTQ organizations. Now it has become fuel for the fire that is the cry of “fake news” from right-wing conservatives.

Following this series of events, TV Line has a statement from Empire executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer about the situation, including Smollett’s removal from the current season of Empire:

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season.”

It’s not clear if Smollett will be fired from the series completely after the end of the fifth season. But it’s also not known if Empire will be renewed for a sixth season at FOX. If the show continues, it’s not likely that Smollett’s character Jamal will return in any capacity.

This situation is frustrating on a number of levels, but mostly because Smollett has made a fool of everyone who believed his story and fiercely supported him. Furthermore, he’s set a precedent for situations like this to inherently welcome skepticism from certain groups. Now, whenever a hate crime or a racially motivated act of aggression pops up in the news, this fake attack will be used as a reason to not believe certain victims. It’s an outrage, and Smollett’s actions are reprehensible.

But The Daily Show host Trevor Noah did find some silver lining in this situation:

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