Jussie Smollett insisted he was innocent to the bitter end.
The facts, and common sense, screamed otherwise. It’s why a judge told the disgraced “Empire” star on March 10 he would spend 150 days in prison as punishment for staging a hate crime.
That incident roiled the nation until Smollett’s story began to fall apart.
It never should have happened, and Smollett deserves every day of prison he received. What’s equally clear are the six lessons the hoax taught us about the culture, journalism and Hollywood, Inc.
Redemption Denied (for Now)
The 39-year-old actor refuses to admit he staged the hate crime incident on Jan. 29, 2019. He stuck to that position immediately after the “attack,” and even while the judge handed down his sentence.
Not even his most impassioned Hollywood defenders have his back on the merits of the case.
This shouldn’t be the end of Smollett’s career or professional life. He’s still a young man and will re-enter society in just a few months. Then what? How does he move forward without admitting he lied and hurt so many people in the process?
Think about all the officers and related professionals who spent day after day examining his allegations. Chicago is swamped with crime, especially in the black community. Those same law enforcement officials could have been helping actual cases and defending real victims.
Instead, Smollett led them on the wildest of goose chases. How can society embrace Smollett again if he can’t even take this simple, but essential step?
Corrupt Media Embarrasses Itself (Again)
You don’t need many Google searches to recall how the press treated Smollett’s allegations in the hours after the “attack.” They immediately assumed the star was telling the truth, no matter how suspect the scenario he painted appeared.
Take just one example. Why would two bigots be loitering, late at night, during one of the coldest days in Chicago, to attack a gay black man like Smollett? And why would they have both bleach and rope, in hand, to attack him?
Instead, reporters pounced, eager to amplify Smollett’s story because it confirmed a narrative about America in 2019.
Is their collective actions much different than how they ran with a phony Russian collusion story for two years? What about their destructive behavior during the Covington Catholic school incident in D.C. two years ago?
Hollywood Embarrasses Itself (Again)
Reporters should’ve known better than to take Smollett’s story at face value. They’re paid to be skeptical about, well, everything.
The same is similarly the case for celebrities who wield cultural power through their social media outlets.
Yet many stars weaponized his tall tale against their own country and, of course, the Trump administration. The most egregious example came from Elliot Page, who used a late night show appearance to demonize Team Trump for the attack with zero proof.
He never apologize to President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. Nor did any other stars offer up a sober mea culpa for spreading Smollett’s story.
The Hollywood community eventually stopped supporting Smollett, but it took some time for that to happen. Late night propagandist Trevor Noah even felt “sorry” for Smollett.
Even now a mega star like Samuel L. Jackson pleaded for a lesser sentence for his friend and fellow actor.
Hoax Hate Crimes Are Real
The media won’t connect the dots, but we’ve seen a crush of fake hate crimes pop up over the last few years. The same reporters who eagerly cover the initial allegations are far less interested in following through on them. So the very notion that someone would fake an attack like Smollett seems out of the ordinary in some circles.
Smollett understood that our culture values victimhood, and he may have sought that status to increase his public profile or even get a raise from his Fox TV benefactors.
Cancel Culture Stood Down During SmollettGate
What Smollett did was far from a victimless crime. Not only did his phony hate crime tie up law enforcement officials for weeks on end, it struck a terrible blow against real hate crime cases.
The more Smollett-style cases flood the news cycle, the less we’re inclined to believe actual cases.
Tell that to Cancel Culture, Inc. which essentially stood down during the entire scandal.
The woke mob is known for lacking forgiveness. It doesn’t matter how often a Morgan Wallen, Joe Rogan or Roseanne Barr apologies, it’s never truly enough. Nor can any punishment fit their alleged crimes.
Yet here’s betting the Cancel Culture community will say little as Smollett re-enters show business.
Smollett Will Be Back
Smollett’s unofficial comeback began a few months ago.
The actor screened his directorial debut, “B-Boy Blues,” based on the 1994 novel of the same name, in Harlem last November. He shot the film after getting fired from “Empire” and during the time he waited for his court case to be completed.
The film lacks a distributor at the moment, but chances are someone will be sharing it in the coming months, if not weeks.
What happens next?
Surely with a star like Jackson in his corner Smollett will find work sooner than later. And it won’t surprise anyone if he’s gainfully employed in Hollywood before any Roseanne Barr comeback. The sitcom queen’s “crime” involved one vile, racially charged Tweet in 2018. That cannot compare to the damage done by Smollet’s faux hate crime stunt.
She’s yet to work since then.