Read about actor Jussie Smollett? He’s an openly gay actor known for being in the TV show Empire. Here he is:
On January 29th of this year, he reported to the police that two people attacked him while in Chicago. He alleged they hurled homophobic and racial slurs at him, put a rope around his neck, and poured a chemical substance on him.
(For more details and a timeline of events regarding this case, check out this article by Sopan Deb and presented on The New York Times).
Needless to say, the assault and details Mr. Smollett provided were harrowing. Only thing is… it now appears that Mr. Smollett may not have been telling the truth. It appears he may have staged the event himself, something I can’t even begin to understand why.
Ah, but you ask: What’s this whole “history repeats itself” thing you mention at the header?
See, when you get older and if you pay attention to the news and have a pesky habit of remembering things from years to years, you begin to realize that, indeed, history does have a weird habit of repeating itself.
Way back in the 1980’s and before the rise of the Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, and other right wing fanatics, there was this TV personality, now deceased, named Morton Downey Jr. who had a very wild right wing TV show. Here’s Mr. Morton Downey Jr as he appeared on his show:
And here’s the very same Morton Downey Jr. photographed in 1989 after he was allegedly attacked -as he claimed- in a public bathroom by youthful hoods that, among other things, drew a swastika on his face:
You can read a little more about this alleged attack on this site:
As you can tell by the website’s name, this attack on Mr. Downey Jr. wound up being… well… bogus. There proved to be too many discrepancies in his story and, amusingly, the Swastika was drawn on his face backwards. You know, as if he was looking in the mirror and drew it that way.
As it turned out, Mr. Downey Jr.’s TV show was suffering and was looking like it might be cancelled. It was theorized he set up this bogus attack as a way of getting attention on himself in the hopes of bringing the ratings of his show up and, thus, save it.
Alas, the show was cancelled anyway and Mr. Downey Jr. declared bankruptcy and appeared in other markets before his eventual death in 2001. I distinctly recall watching one of his shows way back when, where he puffed maniacally on his cigarette and blew smoke right at the camera, his provocative way of telling those who would dare try to stop him from smoking to go fuck themselves.
The big irony is that in 1996 Mr. Downey Jr. developed lung cancer and had to have one of his lungs removed. He went from being that very pro-smoker to a staunch anti-smoker but, clearly, by that point the damage was done.
I know there are rumors Mr. Smollett’s actions, if indeed the attack on him does turn out to be bogus, were motivated by perhaps being in danger of being dropped from Empire, just as Mr. Downey Jr. allegedly did what he did for fear his show was on the rocks.
Either way, if indeed Mr. Smollett did stage this attack, it looks like its in the process of being found out.