*One thing is clear: Jussie Smollett has never seen “Forensic Files.”
If the “Empire” actor caught even one episode of the TV show about forensic science solving real murders, kidnappings, and other crimes, he would have known that criminologists, in all their kooky, persistent, nerdy brilliance, can find a booger in the ashes of a house burned to the ground and then link that barbecued booger to a suspect taking refuge at his step-sister’s house three states away.
But forensic magic wasn’t required to debunk Smollett’s caper, the blueprint for which was undoubtedly purchased from the Acme Corporation, the low budget mail-order firm that for decades has been ripping off Wile E. Coyotewith sub-par brand X explosives, traps and gimmicks the Coyote used in trying to catch the Roadrunner.
None of that stuff ever worked for the Coyote. It didn’t work for Smollett, either. Law enforcement only had to ask some obvious questions of the participants, follow event timelines, and check cameras in the neighborhood where the assault was supposed to have happened, to uncover a fraud.
It’s easy to say this now, but from the beginning, I knew something wasn’t right about Smollett’s story. I found the kitchen sink of cliché hate crime-by-numbers a bit suspect: “I’ll say they said, ‘This MAGA country’…We need a rope—yeah, like a lynching thing!…I’ll say they called me all kinds of racist and homophobic names….”
The only thing more ridiculous than Smollett’s fantastical lie is his audacity to double down on it.
Thus, I say to you, Jussie: Enough. Dispense with the ego and lawyer-driven posturing. What you should do now is anything but easy, yet it is what you should do: Apologize. Go all in. Leave no stone unturned. Your future now depends on the measure of your atonement.
Your mea culpa can’t come through a written statement. Tweets ain’t gon’ get it. Instead, you should schedule a press conference, stand before a phalanx of reporters and the whole world and declare your remorse. Don’t worry about being believed–plenty won’t believe you, and they have every right. Just do it.
However, before you do anything, rid yourself of any “friends” who might have co-signed this stupid shit in the first place. Never contact them again. Because anyone who may have heard you mention your scheme, even in passing, and didn’t tell you it is the most asinine thing they’ve ever heard, is not a friend.
Go to your family. No matter how supportive they appear in public, you’ve hurt and embarrassed them beyond their comprehension. Make clear to them your regret at putting them through this.
Personally apologize to the producers, cast and crew of “Empire,” the show whose future—and employees’ livelihood–you have jeopardized. Thanks in part to your actions, “Empire” may or may not end up cancelled. Either way, the show now has to deal with this.
Go to “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts, to whom you looked in the eye on national television and boldly lied, and apologize. Live. On camera. Roberts took heat for your madness; was criticized for appearing to go easy on you simply because, like many of us, she wanted to believe you.
You owe a serious apology to Chicago Police. Like, a public setting, with you holding a mic, and talking directly to the Superintendent and members of the force. Your celebrity status meant Chicago Police used many valuable man hours investigating this sham. Even as it was discounted and cursed, the department did you a solid: early on, before all hell broke loose publicly, they had to know your accusations were pure B.S. Yet, for your sake, the department initially kept quiet.
Finally, Jussie Smollett, you owe an apology to the public.
America is in crisis. Its citizens are locked in a war that amounts to good vs. evil. When you, Smollett, can look at the nation’s assorted chaos and all you see is an opportunity for personal gain–days after your clumsy, sinister ruse, you stood onstage during your show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles and played the role of valiant, grieving victim—then you look like Trump, the very man you say you despise. And when you double down on your lies, yousound like him, too.
After you apologize to everyone, you should disappear. Get lost. For like, a year or more. Where will you be? In therapy. Because what you did suggests a very serious personal problem. My hope is that you’ll be somewhere discovering the power of self-love.
Will you work again as an actor? Of course, you will. You’ve danced on the graves of generations of hate crime victims, and you’ve made a fool of yourself and others, but you didn’t kidnap, molest or kill anybody. The world has a wonderful way of forgiving those who illustrate sincere and heartfelt penance. The people will forgive.
The big question, Jussie, is will you forgive yourself? If your apology to you is sincere, then forgiveness will follow.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via STEVRIVORY@AOL.COM