Jussie Smollett and The Cult of Celebrity

cult of celebrity
noun phrase

the tendency of people to care too much about famous people.
He criticizes the way journalists promote the cult of celebrity in modern America.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a very sizeable rock the last few weeks, and especially today, you’re familiar with the ongoing saga of Jussie Smollett.  Well today, all in less than 24 hours, he surrendered himself into police custody, was the subject of a press conference that demanded the attention of the Police Superintendent himself Eddie Johnson, post a $100K bond, and returned to work.

Talk about a whirlwind day.

For me, the Jussie Smollett case is nothing short of confusing.  I did watch most of the press conference (it was long, I had work to do), and so we’re being told that he staged the attack (and falsified the previously received threatening letters), because he was unhappy with his pay, which was $65K an episode.

Unhappy with $65K an episode?

My standards are obviously abysmally low.

Beyond that, you have to stop and think what would motivate someone to stage an attack as a response to that frustration?

In conversation today with a friend, I mentioned that I find the situation sad, because someone who does that obviously has a problem of some sort, be it narcissism or some variation of sociopathy.

I’m no doctor, and I could be wrong.  I suppose we all have breaking points, and will do weird and foul shit if given the opportunity.

However, beyond what did or did not happen with Jussie Smollett, I think one aspect of this situation that has been on my mind heavily is the attention it’s garnered.

We can’t even pretend that this same attention would have been garnered if a random gay man, or transexual were attacked in the city.  Hell, if 2 men attacked me and put a noose around my neck, would it even make front page news?

I’m not nearly as attractive as Jussie is.

This case more than anything accentuates for me the sad fascination we have with the cult of celebrity.

All of the attention wasn’t given to this case because of the nature of the crime, but because of who the crime happened to.  Anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes are on the rise, that’s a verifiable fact, but how often are we talking about it?  And how many police resources are being put forth when these crimes occur here?  While doing some reading, I came across this article from October 2018,

Advocates pressure police to solve 2 recent murders of transgender women

Before looking at that article, could you name either of those women?
Did you even know about their cases?
Do you know what the outcome of each is?

I don’t watch Empire, and I could not have told you Jussie Smollett’s name a few weeks ago, although I did recognize his face, but I know it now.

And I know it now because he’s famous, because he’s rich, and with that status, he deserves more airtime..his case deserves more attention…right?

The sad fact is that while the media propagates the cult of celebrity, so many of us feed into it.  Our media highlights these types of stories, because they know it’s a quick click, and you’ll come back on the 5’s, 7’s and 10’s to hear more.

I got more push notifications for Jussie Smollett today…well, let’s put it in perspective;

I got 11 push notifications from ABC 7 news today about the Jussie Smollett case.

I got 1 about Gov. Prizker delivering the state budget address yesterday, and 3 about the barricade situation yesterday in Park Manor that put an elementary school on lockdown.

I’ll give it to CNN, they only sent me 2 notifications on Smollett today.

We need to get over our fascination with celebrities.  It’s tired, it’s old, and it’s flaky.  I could give you a list of 10 individuals, not entertainers, who are far more fascinating.

  1. Jahmal Cole, Activist, Founder, My Block My Hood My City
  2. Adem Redzovic, Business Owner, Redzovic Jiu Jitsu
  3. Esme Codell, Author
  4. Tamar Manasseh, Activist, Founder, Mothers Against Senseless Killing
  5. Maria Pike Davis, Activist
  6. Phillip Sipka, Business owner, Kusanya Cafe
  7. Mary Catherine Roberson, Activist
  8. Rachel Cadie, Business owner, Secondhand Curves
  9. Bryam Bueno, Artist
  10. Dion McGill, All American Badass

A smattering of people that I’ve had the fortune to cross paths with.  Google any one of them.  Fascinating as f**k.  Not famous,  not rich, but deeply interesting people, all of which are uplifting their community in some form or fashion.  Each one of those people should have more Twitter followers than anyone on the Empire cast.

We seriously need to fix our priorities, and this case made that excruciatingly clear.

And people are mad…because they got the wool pulled over their eyes?

Forget your feelings.

Any anger that emanates from me over this case is simply about the police hours wasted.

Eddie Johnson said the police treated this like any other case, at a press conference, that was over an hour.  Bill signings in this part of the world barely get 1 hour press conferences.

And what about the 2 accomplices?  They walk off scott-free?  Yeah, that burns my hide a bit too.

But what makes me mad the most is the onslaught of information and coverage over this case.  I know parents who would give nearly anything, to get this much coverage over the loss of their child, or get an as abundant investigation  into the murder of their children.

Where’s their one hour press conference?  How many police hours are you spending on those cases?  With a murder clearance rate of 17.5% in 2017, I’m gonna say that every minute counts, and leave it at that.

And yes, let’s also clear the air over this:

Yes, Smollett potentially lied about his assault.  Will that make it harder on the next black or gay man who claims an attack?

No…because supporters are going to support, and bigots are always going to think the gay black man is a liar, because that’s what bigots do.  Of course, it’s always important to look at facts, and get a complete understanding and story before drawing conclusions, but let’s be real, our news outlets don’t really help in that process, do they?

So, I’m one little man in a big city.  What are your thoughts on the Jussie Smollett case?  Were you a fan prior to this?  Will you be a fan after? 

Let me know your thoughts and comments down below.  I swear there is a comment section down there among all the pictures and ads.

Step 2, if you liked what you read here, SHARE IT WITH OTHERS!!! Also, be sure to know every time I post a new entry by subscribing! Also, you can check out Reflections of a Chicago Life on Facebook. I post a lot of articles and we can have some wicked discussions on there. Be sure to click “Like”. You can also check me out on Twitter, and see all the things I see around the city on Instagram, and it still bears repeating…it’s important to have STANDARDS!!

This post was created on an HP Pavilion x360.
I hate this computer. 



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