Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Dr. Boyce D. Watkins: ‘Empire’ is in the ‘Entertainment Ghetto’ (Watch)


*Right after everyone and their grandma watched the season finale of “Empire,” Don Lemon hit the CNN airwaves at 10 p.m. to discuss the show’s depiction of African Americans.

After showing a clip of the epic fight between Cookie and Anika, the conversation turned to whether the Fox hip-hop drama negatively portrays African American culture.

Lemon quoted Dr. Boyce D. Watkins, who was a guest on the show, as having described “Empire” as a “ghettofied hood drama” and “coonery,” before asking him to explain.

“A lot of black actors and actresses are just tired of being put in the ‘entertainment ghetto,’” Watkins told Lemon, adding, “‘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 then went on to suggest that Fox would never put such a “dysfunctional” white family on television.

Watkins was part of a panel that included CNN contributor and “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent Nischelle Turner and The Grio entertainment editor Chris Witherspoon. All three seemed befuddled by Watkins’ comment.

“Did you watch ‘Dallas’? Did you watch ‘Dynasty’? Did you watch ‘Falcon Crest’?” Lemon asked, referring to the ‘80s shows that featured dramatic soap opera brawls.

“This is not ‘Dynasty.’ This not ‘Falcon Crest.’ This is ‘I am gonna slap yo b**ch ass because I am from the hood,’” Watkins insisted. “It is very different. Remember, if you are black and you want to play roles that involve being a thug, a hoodrat, a gangsta, a killer or a criminal, there are plenty of roles for you in Hollywood. But you can’t compare it say to a show like ‘Black-ish,’ where black people actually get to be human.”

Turner was taken aback by Watkins’ comments and reminded him that the characters on “Empire” are multidimensional just like you would find in a real African-American family. “Yes, you have Lucious, who came from the hood, and Cookie who came from the hood, but they have a son who is Ivy League-educated,” she said.

“They have a son who is gay and who is coming out but he is the most talented one in that family. It is a very diverse family. If you are calling it ‘coonery,’ then you might be calling the Turner family coonery, because I have a lot of these folks in my family,” Turner fired back.

“I think you need to study the history of blaxploitation television,” Watkins responded.

Lemon clearly didn’t agree with Watkins and pointed out that one television show is not going to mirror an entire culture. “It is not ‘The Cosby Show.’ It is not about a doctor. It’s not about a lawyer. Black actors are probably happy to have a job in Hollywood,” he added.

“This show is a cultural phenomenon. It’s bringing people — black, white, Latino — everyone is kind of coming to the TV set for the first time and watching a show.” Witherspoon said. “These characters are rich and deep… it is a big show that is opening doors and I think it’s shedding light on the diversity of black families,” he concluded. Turner and Lemon agreed.

Watch below:



  1. I agree with Lemon and Turner. When black people compare our culture with white culture and find us lacking because we don’t mirror white folks, part of the problem is with the black community. We have devised a culture of our own because we have been denied acceptance in the white world. We mimic them because they are the ruling class. However, in that simulation we have carved out our own style. Granted, we have watched them for decades and they hardly noticed us, only in a secondary sense. However, things changed with the advent of hip hop. The hip hop culture, now nearly twenty five years old, and I dare say the reason we have a black president, has changed everything. Those of us who were adolescents and young adults at the inception of the hip hop culture are the people that voted for the first black president. And this crossed all spectrums and ethnic barrier, thus giving us a universal language which is why Empire has such a cross over appeal. This is not the only example of hip hop culture’s influence. just look at TV commercials and TV shows, some with all white cast members, using hip hop slang and music. I’ve even seen, from Japan no less, teens mimicking black hip hop music. It’s influence has affected the world and has been embraced, for what it is, black culture.

    So the naysayers like Watkins, still making the comparisons with white culture for our measurement to proper conduct is missing the point. We have arrived as a people, and no longer thought of as secondary citizens since the world seems to be mimicking us for a change. The struggle for equality is still being wedged but the prospects, since racism is being called out at every instance, is looking better and better.

    • Watkins is right. All Lemon and the other two are saying it’s cool to exploit as long as the black people look like they have money or the black people look like they have a college education. Watkins is right. Why we as black people still think its cool to be shown in a bad light as long as you are rich in that bad light it’s a good thang?

    • How many of you have ever watched Dallas,All My Childre or any soap on TV to me that is Ghetto, Maury is Ghetto anything that shows that we are human as the white we the BLACK put down, we are the ones they put on air to riducule us and we do it while ready to fight EVERY show on tv especially FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD are there to show us how they live and what they think of us so I advise The DOCTOR to take a look at any person of LATIN blood and notice they never put one down for anyone else wheather they are right or wrong.That is why they rule and we complain…

  2. To Some it May be …. But it is a Mirror of our Reality today and it has open up discussions that are taboo.. It also Highlights our talented Actors and Creative Writers and Singers , Fashion Stylist there is so much that goes into doing any show and many are feeding their family because of this show that Dr.Boyce D. Watkins has labeled as Entertainment Ghetto. All that means to me is that the Actors have done a damn good job Because they are Acting and Somehow it’s getting to close to home for some, so clean up your hood and not run from it and maybe 16.5 million will watch your show “This Is How We Clean Up Our Hood” Written & Directed by those who are running from the Truth of Reality.. We had a Choice all of us and some went the right way some made and turn and found they way back and some just got lost and we will never get them back Empire is an example of that.. I am Entertained by Great Actors, Writing and Music. #teamempire #teamcookie

    • They have simply turned brainwashing into entertainment, and that’s why so many like it. The fluoride, chemtrails, & poisonous foods are destroying this planet. Smh, it’s clear who is responsible, all we got to do is follow the money!

  3. I miss “The Cosby Show” & “A Different World”……. Shows that displayed morals, standards, & dignity. Im not a fan of Empire because it displays scenarios that I was taught shouldn’t be accepted. ( Homosexuality ). I don’t blame the actors. It’s the WRITERS that I would love to speak to. The (EXPLOITATION) of blacks in media has become a trend. It wasn’t this heavy 20yrs ago. The Cosby Show displayed Positivity & the ratings were outstanding. Since “Reality” shows hit the scene, everyone is on the bandwagon

  4. Horrible writing and shallow characters, Empire reminds me of a highschool drama. I guess I’m not ” hood” enough to relate.

  5. This is social programming and I don’t expect Don Lemming to understand or respect a culture he willfully sells out night after night. As a matter of fact he is a plant. CNN has lost so much credibility as they attempt to become Fox-Lite. What more can you expect from this miscreant that replaced real journalist like Soledad O’Brian and Roland Martin. Of course he sees nothing wrong with Empire and how it socially programs white America to expect these behaviors to mimic real life families in the Black Community. This is 20th Century Cooning and Blaxploitation–I would prefer nothing opposed this hot garbage.

  6. The trickery comes from the fact, that society is a reflection of TV and music. Not the other way around. Rappers stylist put them in skinny jeans and the kids mirrored it. TV do it first and people mirror it. You can market behavior, just as well as you can market product. When these conversations come up you can tell who’s been disingenuous and who’s been genuine. It’s so sad how our own is so committed into being a wall in front of our progression.

  7. I keep seeing and hearing “The Cosby Show” & “Black-ish” being brought up in comparisons, but i can recall as a teenager during the original run of “Cosby” that there were PLENTY of naysayers & detractors of the show, proclaiming it “unrealistic.” High ratings & eventual high praise notwithstanding, there were almost as many who DID NOT appreciate the show during its initial run. Interestingly enough, similar reactions occurred when “Black-ish” first aired. Now these two shows are the standard bearers of television shows featuring actors of color. I just find it interesting that there has suddenly been a switch.

    That being said, it’s also high time we as a people stop being so concerned about what white people or any other people think of us. If that’s the only comparison you have to make, no wonder you think we’re in trouble.

  8. I truly understand everyone’s point of view…it’s the double edge sword…yes black people are getting more airtime but as Dr. Watkins is simply saying it’s those same old stereotypes of black people, bringing up night time soaps isn’t the same as black people only getting real recognition or opportunity based on the negative stereotype of blacks. People of color especially people who sacrificed their lives so we could have some rights would like to see more positive roles of blacks…those people exist also. White America has plenty of diversity when it comes to characters….we have the same roles drugs, sex, murder, etc…

  9. Call it stereotypical if u must this is not far from how some people live, so they are represented. These actors have jobs where they otherwise would not be working. Who was being represented in Dynastt? Work is where you find it. Blackish is a great show also and that reps another group. I am proud of the talent coming out of this show. Stereotypical = it is what it is.

  10. hey listen fake doctor boy I’m sick of black people always tearing each other down sit yo nasty ass down and shut up that’s it just shut up trying to get same or somebody else’s red carpet take a long nap Typo (fame) PS lose some weightbe angry at your fat

  11. There will always be coons and those who love watching coons perform. Television is a programing tool used to control the minds of the masses. There’s nothing that can be done about it. For people who see what is really going on, just sit back and observe the happenings. Teach your kids what is right and leave the sheep in front of their tv sets.

  12. It is entertainment, not a PBS documentary like “Eyes on the Prize” or a historical drama like “Selma”. It is junk food entertainment, that is addicting, and fun, and over the top. It has some great acting by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, and great cameos by stars in the music industry and fashion. Yes, it has lots of sex, vulgarity, profanity, and improbable plot lines. But, it is fun! The “Sopranos” is considered one of the finest shows ever put on television, about an Italian-American crime family, and most Italian-Americans were not offended by its over the top and unrealistic depictions. Most people watching this show, a show that has set a record by increasing its viewership every week across all racial and demographic lines, do not for one second that this depicts a “typical” African-American family. The typical African-American families are the ones watching the show, as are their typical white, Hispanic, and Asian neighbors. Just like “Ray Donovan” on Showtime is not a typical Irish-American family, but depicts a completely dysfunctional family in over the top and outrageous situations, is similarly entertaining. Some kind critics have likened “Empire” to King Lear, with Lucious as the head of a kingdom, and dying. If we want to get a school lesson or sermon, we can watch PBS or go to church. If we want to be entertained, “Empire” will never disappoint. Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

    • The naysayers should actually watch the show. The Luscious character is your stereotypical black male. He’s a selfish, racist, homophobic, close minded criminal who values money over everything else. His ways have made him money but have caused serious same to his family and family members. I get why people could be offended by that. But the important point that everyone has missed, is what (I think) the show is really about, which is how wrong he has been. His children are nothing like him. They are brilliant, ambitious, talented and well spoken. They are disgusted by Luscious and his ways. He represents all the bad stereotypes about us, and it’s fitting that the character is dying. People watching the show are made to despise him and love his sons. Notice how the sons are all so different It’s like the show itself is killing the stereotypes and saying this is who black people we’re all different, and we’re not who you think we are

  13. Everyone stop tripping, we doing just what they want us to do! (Divide & destroy ) sit back and enjoy the movie, and keep the Ratings up, you notice I just didn’t black people, because everyone loves Empire

  14. Fox showed dysfunctional white families for year. Al Bundy married with Children. So dude needs to do more research before he goes on a rant. Empire is a dope show. Fuck these uncle Tom ass black folk. They have forgotten where they came from.
    It’s a mostly black cast. I don’t hear them talking about that bullshit they put on prime time tv called “Blackish.” I hate the title so it’s hard for me to watch that bullshit. Plus the show hits home. Every black family has that Gay cousin, that brother that is dating a white woman, that brother that wants to be a star, that mother that keeps the family together and that dad that has his on ambition to make his family an Empire. Ijs

  15. People can watch any CBS daytime soap such as the Bold and the Beautiful but Can’t watch Empire! The Bold and the Beautiful has been around for years and what have people learned from it? It definitely doesn’t depict class or morals. You have women sleeping with their father in law, their sister’s husbands, their daughters husband’s…etc. It’s a big mess. Those shows treat marriage/family as a joke, but it’s drama so people watch. How many times do you hear people complain about the ficticious, rich, dysfunctional all “white” family? You won’t because people understand that they are acting;because white people could never behave as such, right? With Empire black people are assuming it’s exploitation. I DON’T GET IT! We would rather have white people produce shows about us based off stereotypes, as opposed to having a show like Empire that is real for people in their own way. No its not the Cosby show, only a hand full of black people lived that life, and I’m pretty sure there was some drama involved.

    • I get it and you might and everyone else who wants to get it…might get it…if they would have given Dr. Bois a chance to speak. He has spoken out about this type of characterization of our people before, but he did not stand a chance on that platform of people who, all obviously love to see fights, anger, and viciousness in all it’s glory…I guess the new generation writes him off as the old guy who has lost track of the times and that this series represents the truth for a new generation and that this is the new Black. NOT!!!

      ANYONE WHO REALLY WANTS TO KNOW WHAT IS UP CAN CHECK OUT DR. bOYCE’S VIDEOS. He’s trying to warn us! But we too hard headed and opinionated to listen to reason. He is a reasonable man and the white people love seeing us act like this because it glorifies bad behavior for the next generation who watch it with their families and gives racial profiling a stronger leg to stand on. Black America needs to wake up before it is too late and stop always being the victims in the race wars of mind control. Or since we have a free will we don’t have to, but we will have to deal with the outcome of our decisions to stand for nothing and fall for everything. Where is the integrity, grit, or character in these show…just because one has a degree…really…is that all…money…makeup…jewelry…what…where is the integrity and Godly purpose?

  16. I hate the way Black people are portrayed in this series…from the first episode I quit watching when Lucious shot his long time turned traitor friend t point blank range and killed him…It was like watching the headline on the six o’clock news…or better yet scrolling down a facebook feed…to see young girls and boys fighting, cussing and maiming each other…this is so sad that people even want to see this kind of behavior…it is a turnoff to me personally…I can only speak for myself…so glad I got my cable disconnected.


    • I do not know if we have noticed that there are channels devoted to only Latino, Asians and of course Whites but what do we have and we are the reason as long as DR WATKINS and his kind are willingly STUPID ask him who owns FUSION which now owns all ABC,part of NBC and FOX.

  18. All I have to say is that the devil is having fun laughing at all of us we’ve falling right into his hands with entertainment etc. what is the world coming to to me TV is just a Nother devil tool he’s the biggest magician I know

  19. U are so right about what u wrote& u have some black ppl want to be white but u no what I am proud to be African American because what the history say about use because some of use no how to serve in this world & the ones don wind up killing themselves are other ppl becaus they was not real experience nothing.

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