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Empire--the debate

Some students love Lucious and family; others dislike show's stereotypes

By VERSHAY BURKS/ VN SPECIAL WRITER
On March 24, 2015

BY Vershay Burks

VN SPECIAL WRITER

 

If you haven’t heard of “Empire,” the new hit show by Lee Daniels, you are missing out on a lot of drama.

“Empire” is about a family-owned record company and the music industry, more specifically the hip hop industry.

In its premier season, the show already has reached an audience of up to 14.7 million in the United States. It has taken off.

Season one has comed to an end, and a second season is planned.

What did do UDM students and faculty have to say about the show?

Sophomore Javon Holland appreciates the characters.

They “make the show interesting,” he said. “You’ve got Lucious (the dad), who’s the producer of Empire Records. You’ve got Cookie (the mother) who’s my favorite character and their three sons, Jamal, who’s homosexual, Hakeem, who’s dealing with an older woman (played by Naomi Campbell), and Andre, who’s bi-polar.”

Not only does Holland like “Empire” because of the characters, but also because of the music.

After all, Timbaland, a multiple Grammy-winning music producer, does all the music on the show.

“The music of the show is freaking awesome,” said Holland.

He also feels that the show is good at keeping the audience’s attention.

“Every time when you watch ‘Empire,’ there’s always some type of twist, there’s always something that’s going on,” he said. “Like the one episode that had the audience believe that Jamal had this daughter from this character Raven-Symone was playing and it actually turned out to be Lucious’ daughter.”

Frank Onwenu, another sophomore, also likes the show.

“It’s a pretty good show,” he said. “A lot of people say that it’s similar to ‘Power’ but it’s not. I think it’s very different. It talks about what goes on in the hip hop industry.”

His favorite character is Lucious, played by Terrence Howard.

“He’s the man,” said Onwenu. “But this last episode is making me feel suspect about him.”

Timothy Allen, a UDM IT Helpdesk worker, had another view on the new show.

“I thought ‘Empire’ at first was portraying what happens in the music industry,” said Allen. “It was family oriented, but it shows a dysfunctional family.”

He has a problem with the show on that count.

“There’s not enough light being shed on the positiveness of the show,” Allen said. “To draw you in, it started out as ah yeah music industry, father helping his children, father is kind of narcissistic, but at the same time the mother gets out of jail and she’s trying to rebuild her family. So it went on for a while of showing some positive things of how you can forgive a person for doing the unspeakable whether it’s drugs or whatever, and then it started to do a little twist for me.”

What turned off Allen was the backstabbing.

“Betrayal, infidelity,” Allen said. “Technically he (Lucious) was still married to Cookie when he was with the other lady ... and then it started showing dark sides and that’s kind of the problem I have.”

Taking his analysis a step further, Allen said that “Empire” gives black families a bad image.

“It’s shedding a dark light on an African American” family, he said.

 As an example, Allen said that the father is seen as the “typical” black father who disrespects his son because of his homosexuality.

“They’re not looking at the positive things that Lucious Lyon did by being a single father and raising three young males,” he said. “They are all very successful. It’s now starting to paint him as a Satan figure.”

Allen is not the only one who felt that the show is negative in its representation of a black family.

Lia Hicks, UDM library café worker, described Cookie as “a whore.”

“She’s sleeping with the security guard,” said Hicks. “I feel she is not getting closer with her sons.”

Anthony Armstrong, UDM sophomore and IT Helpdesk intern, stopped watching the show.

“I lost interest in it,” he said. “All they talk about is drugs, and I couldn’t get into all the dramatic issues. The dad is dying, a son is gay, the other son is bi-polar, the other one has just got issues.

“It’s just a really screwed up family,” he added. “The mom just got out of jail, the father has some other issues, the show is just *#!=\% up.”

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