Regarding the old controversy about the TV series Empire, it’s my position that some people place too many demands on filmmakers that address black lives. This very reason explains why some filmmakers do not want to take on issues that deal with the black community. People want to produce art; nobody wants to produce art that pits them into war.
I won’t even argue with people about this, because it takes skill to be able to decode the multiple readings of this show. Some of Empire’s critics are too stuck on reading only the drugs part of it without realizing that the film balances its weaknesses as it allows the black community to see black bodies navigating the political and economic structures as power brokers, victimizers, and victims.
We also cannot ignore the opportunity it gives viewers to acknowledge erotic queerness such as the sadomasochistic relationship between Naomi Campbell and the singer (I forget his name) where he calls her Mama in the bedroom. This particular scene raises an opportunity for viewers to ask–how do artists deviate from the norms, not only with their art but with their bodies and desires? Is there a relationship between erotic deviation and the production of art and the stability of culture?
The movie also forces us to wrestle with the question: how is wealth formed? how do entrepreneurs keep their wealth? What is the role of manipulation? What is the effect of using eroticness and sex in order to seal deals and survival?