While FOX’s Empire continues to defy expectations and make television history, not everyone is here for it.
Noted scholar, Boyce D. Watkins, PhD, was a guest on Don Lemon’s CNN Tonight earlier this week and shared his thoughts, basically saying the show negatively portrays African-American culture.
During the show, Don Lemon quoted Dr. Watkins as previously referring to Empire as “ghettofied hood drama” and “coonery” before asking him to elaborate.
“A lot of black actors and actresses are just tired of being put in the ‘entertainment ghetto.’ The entertainment ghetto’ is basically the place where you have roles that are shows that are specifically designed for black people, where black actors are kind of locked into.”
He then suggested that Fox would never put such a “dysfunctional” white family on television.
“Entertainment Tonight” correspondent Nischelle Turner and The Grio entertainment editor Chris Witherspoon were also guests on the show at the time and both vehemently disagreed with Watkins.
“Did you watch ‘Dallas’? Did you watch ‘Dynasty’? Did you watch ‘Falcon Crest’?” Lemon rebuffed.
“This is not ‘Dynasty.’ This not ‘Falcon Crest.’ This is ‘I am gonna slap yo bitch ass because I am from the hood,’” Watkins replied. “It is very different. Remember, if you are black and you want to play roles that involve being a thug, a hoodrat, a gangsta, a killer or a criminal, there are plenty of roles for you in Hollywood. But you can’t compare it say to a show like ‘Black-ish,’ where black people actually get to be human.”
Michelle Turner gracefully reminded Dr. Watkins that Empire features many multidimensional characters and representations of black people from various backgrounds, much like most African-American families.
“Yes, you have Lucious, who came from the hood, and Cookie who came from the hood, but they have a son who is Ivy League-educated,” she said.
“They have a son who is gay and who is coming out but he is the most talented one in that family. It is a very diverse family. If you are calling it ‘coonery,’ then you might be calling the Turner family coonery, because I have a lot of these folks in my family,” Turner clapped back.
[via The Wrap]