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PostJussie Smollett Case (David Duggan, USA, 02/21/19 12:42 pm)
I'm sure that the other 2.7 million residents of Chicago greeted this morning after finding out that "Empire" star Jussie Smollett had been arrested on charges of "disorderly conduct" for filing a false police report with a big, "so what else is new." From the absolute get-go, this was beyond ridiculous and anyone with an ounce of sense should have perceived it as a big hoax.
For those having lived under a rock for the last three weeks, Smollett, black and gay plays, surprise, a black and gay rap star on Empire, Fox's effort to be something other than Donald Trump's PR machine. Talk about dramatic range. Filmed partially in Chicago, the show has been taking a break lately, and Smollett just decided to get a 2 am Subway sandwich on the near north side on the coldest night here in 30 years. Then, sandwich and cell phone in hand (gloves don't work so well on cell phones), he was supposedly mugged by two MAGA-hat wearing miscreants who put a noose around him and poured some liquid on him, while calling him racial and homophobic epithets. Still he managed to self-transport to nearby Northwestern Hospital's emergency room where he was treated and released. He phoned the police afterwards. Meanwhile the media jumped all over this story, as it fit into its narrative of a nation run amok with Ku Kluxers exchanging their white cone-hats for red MAGA hats and trolling throughout the country looking for black gay men to threaten.
Never having worn a MAGA hat, nor knowing anyone who has, I cannot say for certain what MAGA-hat wearing erstwhile Ku Kluxers are doing at 2 am on the coldest night of the new millennium, but I'll bet they're not outside looking to create mischief. Rather, I suspect that they're leaning back on their la-z-boys, PBRs in hand, shotguns across the armrests, watching Lee Ermey re-runs of Lock 'n Load, a copy of Guns and Ammo across their pot-belly-suffused laps, waiting for some burglar to crash through their made-in-America vinyl windows. The story quickly fell apart, despite Smollett's interview with celebrity lesbian Robin Roberts to whom he said that this was his truth, and that if he had said that it was a Mexican or a Muslim, nobody would question his veracity.
Two weeks after the incident, Chicago Police arrested 2 black men of Nigerian descent who had worked as extras on the set of Empire, one of whom may also have been Smollett's trainer (photos of them show the ribbed-abs, pronounced pecs, and mounded deltoids typical of body-builders). Police linked the rope around Smollett's neck to a purchase at a Crafty Beaver (I didn't know they were still in business). The Nigerians were released without charges.
The question of course is what this will do to Smollett's career. He'd earlier (2007) filed a false report relating to a DUI stop in LA, paid a fine and been given a couple of years of probation. Those old enough to remember the pre-shark-jumping years of Grey's Anatomy may recall the incident in which surgeon-extraordinaire Dr. Preston Burke, played by Isaiah Washington, said to surgical resident Dr. George O'Malley, played by T.R. Knight, "I'm not your little f@%%0+." Knight had recently come out as gay. Washington has worked only sporadically since then. I predict that this will not be Smollett's career killer and that under the perverse rules governing Hollywood, his career will take off like a porno-finish.
JE comments: The latest news reports say Smollett was trying to advance his career with the publicity. Yet in this performance/hoax, his acting wasn't very impressive...
Jussie Smol-LETT or SMOL-lett?
(Edward Jajko, USA
02/22/19 3:00 AM)
One of the things that has puzzled me about this strange story of Mr. Smollett, or more accurately the only thing that I have even remotely cared about, is the pronunciation of his name.
In radio and TV news reports, it
has been pronounced with an accent on the second syllable, as “Smol-LETT.” I have been a fan of the writings of the Scottish author Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) since the summer of 1961, when, while studying second-year Chinese at the Yale Summer Language Institute, I bought a leather-bound set of his novels, etc. (but not including his translation of Don Quixote) from a rare book seller’s in New Haven. I, along with the librarians and book dealers I have engaged with over the years, have always given it penultimate accent: “SMOL-lett,” i.e., “SMAH-let.” Obviously Mr. Smollett can pronounce his name any way he wants--who am I to judge?--but is my pronunciation of Tobias S’s name right or wrong?
And who in the world is Jussie Smollett anyway?
JE comments: Ed, he's on TV--or was on TV (the series Empire on Fox). Now he'll be starring on Court TV. As for penultimate or final stress, at least 7000 people had the same question. This YouTube video goes with Smol-LETT:
Now another stress test: is it Car-NE-gie or CAR-ne-gie? I still say the latter, but the former is what you tend to hear in the media. Now I wonder if my choice is the legacy of my father, a penultimate/antepenultimate guy by nature. He even pronounced my adoptive city DE-troit.