“Coming to America,” the film by Eddie Murphy had changed several established notions about Africa as a continent and African population. But now that the second installment of the film is out, the question people are asking can is that if Hollywood is ready to change its behavior towards Africa and Africans.
Stereotyping has been a hot topic in Hollywood for quite some time, but the debate surrounding it didn’t manage to change the overall behavior of the industry. Hollywood has time and again shown its biases towards African people and portrayed them in a stereotypical manner.
Coming to America is a revolutionary foolhardy romantic comedy movie that has hit the box office recently. But unfortunately, it was commissioned only because of Eddie Murphy’s star power. It is important to mention here that Eddie Murphy had worked hard to develop his star power by giving several amazing movies including “48 Hours” and “Beverly Hills Cop” among others. He had to face conflict with Paramount as well over casting because Eddie Murphy wanted the mainstream audience to welcome a film featuring African characters. He had hired and paid John Landis, the director of the movie, through his production house because no major production house was paying heed to his demands.
In his interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he revealed that over the casting issue he was told that “there has to be a white person in the movie.” However, the fight led him to Louie Anderson, a comedian who later become a part of the black cast.
Western cinema though has a prolonged and ongoing history filled with incidences of downgrading or sidelining African actors and actresses. The industry only utilizes Africans as a framework for the moral reckoning or self-discovery journey of white characters. The history of Hollywood has countless movies that provide enough evidence to second this perception. As you can see in movies like The African Queen and Out of Africa. However, these movies are not the latest.
Now the question is how will this movie change the entire game of stereotyping in Hollywood? Eddie Murphy was strong-minded to portray Africans as intelligent, talented, rich, proud of African heritage, and equivalent to white.
He gathered an exclusive African-American group of actors around him. His cast comprised of the black fledgling talent including Eriq La Salle, James Earl Jones, the trailblazers, John Amos, and Arsenio Hall.
The movie had broken many records and did a business of $288 million across the globe. It is considered one of the most commercially successful movies in history with a black cast. It is vital to note that Black Panther holds this record now. But ‘Coming to America’ is still valued by all because of the humor in the movie and its strong characters.