The Eddie Murphy Archetype

Critical Update -Sept 2019 – far bottom >

Is there a better picture than above to celebrate Black History month.  That is Angela Davis giving the black power salute as she is being taken away in court.  For her fight, I am coining a new phrase here.  It’s the one above. I am here to tell you that the ‘Eddie Murphy Archetype’ thrives because you are racist.

Slowly I began to realize that when white people are alone, they give each other things for free

– Eddie Murphy as a white man in SNL’s brilliant ‘White like Me‘.

The Eddie Murphy Archetype (we’ll call it EMA for short) works because you get to laugh at a black guy who says all the things you so badly wish you could say, but don’t.  He is a black man who you are not afraid of.  You love the EMA because to you; it means you aren’t racist.

How could you be racist?  You own every Eddie Murphy DVD, even those super bizarre ones he has been doing for the last twenty years.  Now would a racist person have that much Eddie?  Yes.

Your racism isn’t what fascinates me, though.  It is how replaceable that guy is.  After Eddie just dropped off the earth, we were issued Martin Lawrence.  Yes, he was issued to us.  Since we didn’t have Eddie, us whities needed a new black clown  to dance for us… so that we would feel ok about the whole slavery thing.  You think “well, this guy is funny and rich.  So, clearly he isn’t being oppressed.  Heck, without me, the white suburbanite, this guy would be dirt poor.  Really, I am a hero here.  No more white guilt.

I guess we don’t want the blacks to get too uppity, because you only get about a five-year run at the top.  Then, we tire of your schtick.  Every five years (approximately) we get a new black guy to say those zany racist stereotypes.  “why can’t you white  people dance?  Y’all got no groove!” and we laugh because it’s so true.  The character has bonded with us, and let us know he doesn’t hate us for slavery.

After Martin Lawrence, we were issued Chris Tucker (from Friday), and he had a good give year run doing nothing but Uncle Tom bits that pretty much mirror “Mr Robinsons’ Neighborhood”.

So, he left us after about a five year run.  Then, we were issued Will Smith.  I know you think of him as a great and thoughtful actor, and he is.  It is how he lasted so long.  Remember, Will Smith wasn’t always doing super thoughtful biopics.  Check  out his IMDB page, it isn’t all Oscar material.  So, Chris Tucker faded and we were issued Chris Rock.  He faded after a great five year run and then Dave Chappelle jumped in just at the right time.

Now we know Chappelle is gone.  I mean, he meant it, and did it on his own terms.  He walked away from a 50 million dollar contract with Comedy Central.

So, that brings us to Kevin Hart.  His roles are SO close to Chris Tuckers, for the first few movie previews I thought it was Chris Tucker.  They are playing the exact  same characters.  To prove the concept that Kevin Hart is nothing but a flavor of the month, watch this clip.  The whole gag, in its entirety, is Hart yelling over and over again “you’re white!  You’re White!  You don’t fight!”  What kind of patronizing shit is that? What makes it hilarious is for that gag to work, we have assume every black man knows violent struggle in life that we couldn’t imagine.  So, the violence inherent in the racial divide is owned solely by young black men.  If you look at prison stats, you might conclude they are right.  For the gag to work, it pre-supposes you think most (or all) blacks are violent thugs.  This character takes the spit out of it by letting us know it’s ok.  We will always be fortunate and safe from street violence just because we are white.

Even after analysis, I still love the clip.  I think it’s great.  But, on many levels it is also degrading to the black man.  This is no different from a hot girl in a beer commercial.  Yes, I know she is being exploited for sex and that is simply to get my to lock into that product.  However, I still watch and drool.  For me, it’s a fair trade-off.

I don’t think for a second anyone of these actors wants to be a disposable dancing clown for the white man.  But, it pays well.  So, keep an eye here.  We’ll watch Kevin Hart have a great five-year run and disappear.  He will have a very public tax problem, most likely, and then we will be issued a new guy to mirror our best guesses of what life must be like to be black.

I think Chris Rock nailed the barrier between races.  He explained, rather thoughtfully, that:

“None of ya would change places with me! And I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white!”

In writing this, I don’t mean to denigrate the actors.  Clearly, some of these actors are brilliant and funny and talented.  They deserve recognition for being more than a trope.  Yet, what else could explain Martin Lawrence?  How did he make the cut?

Here is further proof of my concept.  (Black) Comedian Jay Pharoah does them all in 2 minutes.  (there are two different clips above.  Watch both, it’s dope!

Being wrapped up in the EMA is lot like being an NFL running back.  You get five great years – and then you are dunzo!  By 35 years old, you are no longer needed by society.  That is what makes you racist.  That is what makes it so funny.  Power to the people, ALL power to the people – Bobby Seale.  Black Power!

*** bonus feature.  WTF is the deal with all these?  Eddie made at least 11 of them, Tyler Perry has made even more.  They are so patronizing to the black experience I can’t even discuss them.  Why is every black woman over forty played identically teh same?  She is fat, and has a huge ass, is over-nurturing, and says thinks like “whoop your ass” every 40 seconds she is on screen?  I blame the Jerk.  It started there.

Update Sept 2019

I wrote this four years ago, and boy was I prescient.  This is what Eddie Murphy told Jerry Seinfeld verbatim in a recent interview:

Murphy says he had a “strange relationship” with Pryor. “Back when I broke, the town was still doing a one black guy at a time thing,” he explains. “So when I showed up, Richard kind of had this—there was this feeling like this was the new one, so Richard kind of felt threatened.” 


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