Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Empire and TV

Today is Wednesday. 

And there is no new episode of Empire tonight. It’s done for the season, so you will have to wait until September, at least.

Empire is that good – I would be remiss if I didn’t say enough about how the show has defined two genres of prime time television - - nighttime soap operas (Dynasty and Dallas) and music (Miami Vice and NY Undercover). Woven together, they form a powerful TV show which addresses contemporary issues, such as homosexuality, mental illness, dysfunctional family, power and greed. In case you haven’t heard of Empire, it chronicles the exploits of the Lyon family and their recording label. Terrance Howard plays Lucious Lyon, the head of Empire Entertainment , Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie Lyon, Lucious’ ex-wife who came home from jail after spending 17 years for drug dealing. They have three sons, Andre (played by Trai Byers) who is bipolar, Jamal (Jussie Smollett) who is openly gay, and Hakeem (Brayshere Y. Gray) who aspires to be a great hip-hop artist. Cookie is determined to bring the Lucious family together, even if it’s destroying the relationship between Lucious and his fiancĂ©e, Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey) or be forced to make an important decision to the Feds in regards to a murder case involving Lucious as a suspect. Empire debuted on FOX Television Network on January 7 to positive reviews and was the network’s highest rated drama in three years. Since then, every episode saw an increase in total viewership, from 9.9 million viewers and a 3.8 rating to the show’s two episode finale garnering a robust 17.6 million viewers and a 6.9 rating in the second and final hour. Empire also has plenty of original music in each episode and the season 1 album soundtrack immediately went number one on the Billboard chart.   

Ms. Henson has what I consider to be the baddest role in TV, period. She plays Cookie Lyon to the hilt and really shows how bad she is - - when Cookie hates someone, she can go all out in destroying the person's life and his/her relationships. She is also determined to gain some control of Empire Entertainment from Lucious since her release from jail. The series also leaves a lot of skeletons for Season 2 which I won't tell you for now.   Sorry, that's my second wife/ (j/k)

Now with a show like Empire, can you wait until Season 2 starts?  Boo, Boo Kitty.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The McDonald's beating video


That's the first word many people will say after watching the horrific McDoanalds beat down video on the afternoon of March 9th - - not just the fight but also how many people watched it happen and were recording it instead of calling 911.   It all happened with classmates fron nearby Erasmus High School, once the crown jewel of Brooklyn, were involved in a fight - - at least six punks ganged up on a lone victim - to the point where she fell to the floor.  One of the girls kept fighting after her jacket and blouse were removed during the melee  - - showing her bra.    As the fight progressed, "spectators" formed a circle around the "ring" and cheered the thugs on as they continued pummeling the girl.  Nobody within the circle called 911 or stried to stop the fight, they we recording the fight which was later posted all over YouTube and Facebook. 

But all of the girls involved, including the victime, enjoyed it.  Why?  Because social media now connects to the world via. videos, pictures, and story links.  The fight was posted all over YouTube and Facebook, allowing these girls to brag what they did - - now all 6 girls are facing gang assault and robbery charges.  One of the teens, Aniah Ferguson (the one who had the jacket and blouse removed during the fight) had 6 prior arrests since she turned 16 last summer, including an attack on her grandmother and brother in seperate incidents. and yet she is the mother of a 1 year old.  The so-called "victim"  Arinia Taylor, bragged about being famous after the beatdown video surfaced all over the internet.  And the so-called community leaders came out saying their usual "wakeup call"    nonsense as they said nothing before about the hundereds of various fighting videos all over social media for years - nor the fact that many black on black crimes happen in their community. 

It might be controversial what I am going to say but I serously think we should eliminate all forms of social media, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc completely as well stop mass production of cell phones and smartphones.  It might be sad to think about it but Americans functioned well in the 1990's and before when there were no cell phones, no internet, no Facebook, no Tweeting, no poking, and cameras used film instead of memory cards. We don't have to worry about drivers texting while driving.  Social media is supposed to engage people around the world by exchanging ideas, posting pictures ad videos and spreading the message.  I love looking at Facebook all the time and seeing people sharing messages about Jesus Christ for us to share or type "Amen" is beautiful.   Making people laugh at funny pictures (Kermit the Frog drinking comes to mind) or that hillarous video prank is awesome too.   But when a select few destroy the purpose of social media by bragging what crime they committed so they they can be famous then we should eliminate all of it.  On the other hand, the "bragging" has help law enforcement trmendously in apprehending criminals and felons, such as  Eddie Smith from Texas who bragged on Facebook about having 16 warrants issued against him (he actuially had 14 outstanding warrants) when authorities arrested him.

Just try a week without your phone outside of making phone calls.

Friday, March 6, 2015

"Scandal" last night's episode - a police involved shooting

Scandal is an excellent TV show but last night's episode - "The Lawn Chair" nearly brought me to tears on a controversial topic about police involved shootings and the two sides - the police against residents of a predominantly black community. For those who have never heard of Scandal, this ABC TV show is created by Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder.  The show stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, an ex-aide to the United States President who left the White House to form her own company, Pope and Associates - a dedicated team of individuals who try to help people accused of crimes and other serious issues by "fixing" them, no matter the cost or the legality behind it.   While this TV series plays like a nighttime soap opera full of plot twists, last night's episode was uncommon of Scandal - - probably a first for tackling a hard contemporary news story on police involved shootings in inner city minority neighborhoods.

The episode starts with Olivia Pope encountering the aftermath of Brandon Parker, a black teenager, accused of shoplifting who was shot dead by an unknown white Washington DC police officer while a predominantly black mob forms around the scene.  As other police officers are keeping the crowd at bay, Pope steps in to diffuse the situation between the officers and the crowd while the matter escalates because the shooting takes place within a mile from the White House.  Shortly after Pope arrives, Clarence, the deceased teenager's father jumps in while brandishing a loaded shotgun to protect his son while keeping the officers and crowd at bay.  Meanwhile Pope tries to find out the circumstances which led to the shooting - - and a lawn chair (hence the episode title) provided to Clarence so he can sit on top of his son's body.  The White House is involved because of the proximity to the shooting so President Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) assembles his team to try tell Americans that it is a local issue and they are not involved.    I will stop here because I won't give away the rest of the plot or the ending.  But what I can tell you is that the episode was well handled and it deals a father's anguish after his son is killed by a police officer, the mostly white police officers taking abuse from mostly black residents while on patrol - the majority of killings committed between minorities and the how cops protect each other after a police involved shooting.   There is even a poignant comparison between the shooting incident and John F. Kennedy - two young men's lives cut short by a bullet.    

You can watch last night's Scandal episode on your cable provider through On Demand, through the ABC TV website or on streaming websites such as Hulu.  Even if you are not a Gladiator as I am, I encourage you to watch this episode because it will being a tear to your eyebrows at the end.