I remember the not so glorious but nostalgia inducing days of VHS tapes and blurry televisions from the early 1990s. We didn’t have cable television, but I had plenty of VHS tapes I would watch repeatedly. At one point in time, I could tell you every line for the movies “Wayne’s World” and “Sister Act” but by far my favorite movie was “Coming To America”.
To me, that movie is the epitome of a classic movie with a mixture of good acting, great writing, character development, comedic moments and star power. You can go into any public location and yell “Sexual Chocolate!” and people would know what you’re talking about. When I look back, I was probably too young to be watching certain scenes, but nevertheless, I loved that movie.
Notice the reasons why I called the movie a classic. Nowhere did I state that it was a classic black movie. It was a classic movie in general. I’ve yet to meet anyone that has seen it that didn’t at least find it enjoyable and that’s rare to say about any movie.
Let us focus on the leading character, Hakeem, the prince who came to America in order to find his future bride. He had so much depth as a character, yet he had room to improve throughout the movie. He was young, handsome & wealthy, yet somewhat modest about his royal stature. He was strong & brave yet naïve about how harsh the world really is outside the palace. His character wasn’t perfect because he was lying to everyone about who he actually was and regretted doing so later on in the movie.
Fast forward to 2021, 23 years after the release of the original movie, came the abysmal sequel “Coming 2 America”. To be blunt, I expected little from this movie and was reluctant to watch it due to my love affair with the original. Nevertheless, I sat down & attempted to watch what would be a train wreck of a movie.
Everything I loved about the original film was torn apart by modern Hollywood standards. Hakeem, now the King of Zamunda, is portrayed as an utterly weak and pathetic man. Hakeem, the former strong black male character, has now been reduced to a castrated version who is constantly shitted on by the women closest to him, ranging from his daughters to his wife.
Even the premise of the film is that other people who are powerful within the country believe he is weak & they want to take over. I mean, for God’s sake, even as Hakeem’s father is dying, he calls Hakeem weak to his face.
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This movie is a microcosm of how Hollywood has destroyed black characters and especially black male characters. Hakeem’s character was emasculated by women in order to present these female characters as being strong, and that tactic is a common practice these days. Hollywood believes that in order to present a strong female character, you have to tear down a man that’s beside her, even if he’s no threat to her.
If a black male character isn’t torn down by another character, he has to decrease his manhood and become effeminate to be successful like Tyler Perry. He’s made himself into a billionaire in part by putting on a dress & wig so people can laugh at what he’s reduced himself to.
Beyond the characters being either dumbed down or given no real depth, they are now making more and more black focused films and tv shows surrounded by the premise that I call “White People Bad”.
The movies that get praised the most when black people play the lead characters are the ones that show the oppression from white people and sometimes in the most exaggerated fashion. “12 years a slave”, “Selma”, “Get Out”, “The Banker”, “Green Book” and the list keeps going.
To be clear, I am not one of these people who believe that black characters always have to be seen in a positive light. For example, “Boys in the Hood” is a great movie that doesn’t show blacks in the best of light all the time. However, it was a movie that had depth to it & memorable characters while being well written. What I am highlighting is how Hollywood has either dumbed down, emasculated or victim-held black characters on television & film.
I personally know of a black actor who is absolutely tired of not having any roles available for characters that are black who aren’t spewing lines about how oppressed they are or just completely lacking depth. This isn’t even necessarily about white people within Hollywood & the lack of black people behind the scenes contributing to the downfall of black characters and storylines. For Example, Coming to America’s (1988) screenplay was written by two white men and directed by a white man.
This has more to do with the simplemindedness, egotism, activism & savior complex of Hollywood, regardless of race. They’ve become enamored with getting social justice points from all groups that they end up destroying storylines & characters in order to present a public service announcement masquerading as entertainment.
With their desire to artificially prop up strong female characters as feminist icons, they take the approach to cut down male characters and sometimes black men get caught up in their initiative. They are now afraid to show men as strong positive figures unless they are wearing a costume.
Similarly, when it is time to prop up black characters in a movie or TV show, they can only do so when the opposing force is white. If we are to look at the television show “Them”, we have the innocent black family that moves from the Jim Crow South during the Great Migration to Compton, California, only to be met with overwhelming hostility from an all-white neighborhood.
This is not to say that this didn’t exist in America when blacks moved into white neighborhoods, but the way it is portrayed in this show is so over-the-top in their hatred that it’s not believable. Every white character in the show is simply evil & immoral as they do everything possible to torment this black family; this is not by accident. There is no other way to see it than it being simply ‘Oppression Porn’. Much like Porn, the movie suffers when you don’t focus on writing a good script and put all the emphasis on the pornography at hand.
With all of this stated, as a patron of Hollywood’s entertainment, I feel as if Hollywood is attempting to cater to a very narrow audience. People of all races love a good story and good characters regardless of what they look like. Coming to America was a perfect example of this. Now they are magnifying race to the degree of being obvious in what they are attempting to do.
There is nothing subtle about how in some of these movies & television shows they are trying to portray black & white people and it’s offensive to think that this industry believes that we are willfully ignorant or unaware of their political messaging & motivations.
Founder and Editor of Wrong Speak
Former Liberal, present day free thinker. Believer of equality of thought, free speech and open conversations. Proud American that prefers to be judged by character over skin.