Continuing his reputation as the cable news show to regularly talk about racial issues, CNN’s Don Lemon hosted last night a panel on Fox’s smash hit musical drama Empire — notable for its predominantly black cast.
While the show has been a runaway success for the broadcast network — racking up a total audience of 20 million people per week — some have accused the hip-hop-focused drama of negatively and stereotypically portraying black culture.
“Black actors and actresses are tired of being put in the entertainment ghetto,” professor and social commentator Boyce D. Watkins told Lemon last night. In a controversial web column this week, Watkins asserted that he cannot abide by the show’s “coonery” via a “ghettofied hood drama.”
Asked to expand upon those harsh words, Watkins explained: “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 declared that if Empire depicted a less dysfunctional family, the actors would all be white.
Watkins was generally alone in his views among the all-black CNN panel — host Lemon, Entertainment Tonight reporter Nischelle Turner, and theGrio editor Chris Witherspoon all agreed the show is a “cultural phenomenon” shining light on diverse, minority families.
Watch below, via CNN:
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