Empire’s Dysfunction Celebrated as Art


empireNow that the first season of Empire is over its time to reflect on the new TV drama and what it means for black people. Time Magazine also recently featured Lee Daniels in its list of the 100 most influential people. The new TV show has received a lot of praises among critics as its rating soared. However, there are some things worth noting about this television series. Its time to review just how much of anything has come out of this charade.

The Good

Fox seems to have invested a reasonable amount of money that makes this show look real. At least the actors look like they have money and their lifestyle somewhat mirrors that of a wealthy family. Secondly, Fox did a great job with their casting because they chose of the best actors and actresses in Hollywood like Terence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

The Bad

These wealthy black people just had to be into music and particularly hip hop. How much more stereotypical can that be? They couldn’t have a real estate firm, an investment firm, a construction business or a restaurant like most normal black people. Come on. And in speaking of their business, how come they had to get their initial capital from selling drugs. Are drugs the only way black people make money when they are poor? Our wealth is not always ill gotten and I think this TV drama serves to spread the narrative that black people only care about drugs and music.

Lucius and Cookie have three children together. All extremely dysfunctional. The first born who is an Ivy League graduate seems to be normal in the beginning, he is married and his demeanor seems normal, at least he doesn’t actually sing, only wish the writers would have kept him that way. The second son is not necessarily singing hip hop but he is dealing with sexual dysfunction. It seems that most jobs in Hollywood for black men always include sexual dysfunction. The third son is the typical hood rat who is obnoxious, sings hip hop music, is promiscuous. All three children are not positive role models for black men. The very culture the whole family is selling smells of extreme dysfunction.

The mother went to prison because she loved money so much. She spent 17 years behind bars just so that they could have a record label. When she comes out, none of her children can connect with her. She is always dressing inappropriately for a mother and a businesswoman. By the way, who calls themselves, ‘Cookie’. She seems to be willing to do anything for a dollar. She is not in anyway a good depicition of black women on television. Both father and mother don’t seem to have any moral fibre in their bones. They will chase money at any cost. Lucious will even kill the people closest to him for money. What message does this send about black people.

Throughout the show there are no redeeming characters. Everything about this show sends the message that black people are drug dealing thugs, murderers, bad mothers, hood rats and so forth who have no morality or ethics. The show does not invoke any themes about the things black people value such as education, strong families, good fathers, Christianity and so forth.

By the way

empire2TheGrio.com denigrated Tyler Perry so they could praise Lee Daniels. This tactic of divide and conquer comes from slave days as devised by the likes of  Willie Lynch where two black people could not exist in the same space together. The fact of the matter is that the black experience as a wise person once said is not a monolithic experience and there is enough room in the entertainment space for Perry, Daniels and then some. After all this is capitalism where the laws of supply and demand determine value; and Perry is the half a billion dollar man who is controlling his empire on both the small and big screen. Perry unlike Daniels owns the means of production.

The fact of the matter is that Lee may be talented but he is still a worker. In the same way that the slaves were glad that there some of them living in the big house but at the end of the day they were still slaves. Lee is helping build Murdoch’s empire. Yes that Murdoch who is famous for butchering the image of the black man, yes him. It is disturbing perhaps in the same way that people would celebrate the man who works for someone else at the expense of one who is actually expanding economic freedom for black people.

When Keiffer Sutherland created the character of President Palmer in TV drama ’24’ he gave us a competent black man in the office of the Presidency and made the Obama presidency attainable at least from a perception perspective. Perception has an influence on reality. Many people believed a black man could lead these United States because President Palmer on 24 was believable, competent and commanding of respect due to the black man. It was a good break from the stereotypical rapper or drug dealer that America had been accustomed to whenever black men had been cast in the media.

Why has it become a competition to see which black producer will produce the most morally depraved black character?  Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Lee Daniels are not good for black people, yet we celebrate them for producing the most stereotypical show on television. What a shame!


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