On a recent episode of “Watch What Happens Live,” Vivica A. Fox, set to play Cookie’s sister in an upcoming episode of “Empire,” was asked to weigh in on ex-boyfriend 50 Cent’s alleged comments about the show. The rapper reportedly reposted a blog which suggested the ratings for the FOX drama have dipped because of the “gay stuff,” ostensibly referring to the relationship between Jamal and his boyfriend Michael.
“First of all, you know… pot calling the kettle black. That’s all I’m saying,” Fox responded.
When host Andy Cohen asked Fox (who dated 50 Cent in 2003) to unpack her statement — specifically the suggestion that the rapper is gay — she smiled and said, “He’s not. We had a great time. I mean, he just seems like he’s got something that’s not quite clear,” she said. She also referenced a magazine cover featuring 50 Cent and rapper Soulja Boy, adding that 50 looked like “a booty snatcher” in the photo.
It wasn’t long before 50 Cent took a few shots at Fox on Twitter and Instagram, making fun of her looks and divulging intimate details about the former couple’s sex life. “Oh no!! Now she thinks I’m gay because I let her lick my ass,” wrote on his Instagram. “Wait, I didn’t want her to, she forced me, my hands were tied. 50 Shades of Grey.”
The whole saga, which has been playing out on social media to the glee of Black Twitter, is a perfect example of the absurdity of hip-hop homophobia. Now, it’s important to remember that homophobia is not exclusive to the hip-hop and black communities. The narrative that black people are somehow more homophobic than any other group is a false one.
But the way that this homophobia manifests in hip-hop is still worth examining — and calling out. The feud has now sparked a debate within Black Twitter about “booty eating,” whether men who receive and like it should be suspected of being gay. On the one hand, the fact that black people and hip-hop lovers are discussing this is great. On the other, it’s unfortunate that a totally natural part of sex is under this kind of scrutiny.
The spectacle of this feud just detracts from the conversation that we actually should be having; why hip-hop figures (like Eminem, or Waka Flocka) still feel empowered to make publicly homophobic comments.
There have been rumors about 50 Cent’s sexuality in the past, which Fox was very likely aware of when she made her comments on “Watch What Happens Live.” That 50 Cent felt the need to lash out at Fox via Instagram is disappointing, especially since his insistence that he was “forced” by Fox comes off as his way of assuring us all that his masculinity is still intact.
Equally disappointing, though, are the comments Fox made about the rapper to begin with. Fox took the intimate relationship between herself and the rapper and weaponized it against him. She was responding to his homophobic comments about “Empire,” a show she is set to appear on later this season, a show whose creator is an openly gay man and a powerful player in Hollywood. But rather than simply saying “no comment,” or unpack why 50 Cent’s suggestion was problematic, she chose to retaliate by trying to “out” him.
Both 50 Cent and Fox’s comments and actions have been petty, but on a larger scale they’ve also been damaging to the dialogue surrounding black male sexuality. Black masculinity is constantly threatened, undermined, and scrutinized, and comments like those made by Fox do nothing to push the conversation about how to be more inclusive of LGBT people in hip-hop forward. While she may have thought she was just throwing “shade,” what she was really doing was once again perpetuating a stereotype that we desperately need to get away from.