While most of us have been able to accept the fact that we were probably duped by Jussie Smolett and move on, Empire producer Lee Daniels is grappling with his inner Mulder and still wants to believe. Lee recently spoke with Vulture and said he’s “beyond embarrassed” that he stuck his neck out for Jussie the day of the alleged attack by posting an Instagram video (since deleted) defending him. He’s embarrassed for defending Jussie the day of the attack and not say, Empire seasons 2-6 or getting publicly excoriated at a Diana Ross concert while wearing a Snuggie? I think a lot of us still have a little egg on our faces for continuing to hold out hope that Jussie was telling the truth right up to the part where the body-building brothers entered stage left, but I’m certainly not embarrassed by my initial reaction. But I’m also fully #TeamScully at this point.
According to Vulture, Lee says he initially acted out of impulse. Here’s what he said when asked if he’s embarrassed by his initial reaction to Jussie’s story.
I’m beyond embarrassed. I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.
I get that. Never forget the glorious melodrama of the scene in Empire where Lucious Lyon literally throws a young Jamal into the garbage. That was ripped straight from the pages of Lee’s own life and it’s one of the purest examples of high camp I’ve ever seen on network TV. Lee continued, saying that Jussie being a suspect in his own assault came out of the blue but that he still holds on to hope that Jussie is somehow still telling the truth.
V: It’s got to feel like a huge betrayal.
LD: If it turned out that he did it, was guilty, and all of it’s accurate.
V: Wait, there’s really doubt in your mind that he didn’t make the whole thing up?
LD: Of course, there’s some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.
Lee went on to say that since we weren’t there, we can’t judge him, “that’s only for the fucking lady or man with that black robe and God“. He also said that he had to detach himself and stop calling because it was interfering with his family and “affecting my spirit and other shows, everything“. I guess that means we can also blame the cancellation of Star on Jussie Smollett. Will his reign of terror never end?
It sounds to me like Lee wants his cake, and he wants to eat it with Martin Luther King. When asked what he thought it would look like if we found out Jussie was telling the truth this whole time, Lee said, presumably with a straight face, “Think about it. If he didn’t do it, he’d be Martin Luther King right now. He’d be some sort of god”. Yes, some sort of black robed gay Tupac god with the power to pass judgement on us all.