Saturday, January 05, 2008

"Beverly Hills Cop" and "Framing Blackness"

"Beverly Hills Cop" was a funny film. I found myself getting caught up in the plot. When I started to think about the film in reference to Ed Guerrero's "Framing Blackness" I found there were many things I would have overlooked about the film. Had I not read Guerrero's book, I would not have realized Eddie Murphy's character, Axel, is one of the only African American characters in the film. He speaks differently than all the other characters using a great deal of profanity and slang. The only other character who uses the same type of language as Axel is his boss in Detroit, who is also African American. His boss, however, is in less than five minutes of the film. One of the main ways Axel's blackness is framed is by his language and his isolation as one of the only African Americans in the film. Guerrero writes, " an African American top billing in a film in which he or she is completely isolated from other blacks or any reference to the black world. Black culture is therefore embodied in the black star's persona and actions, surrounded and appropriated by a white context and narrative..."

Guerrero observes in Chapter Four, Recuperation, Representation, and Resistance: Black Cinema through the 1980s, that in the 80s, the film industry was primarily focused on making big budget pictures. Most of the films released followed a similar pattern. Guerrero writes, "Hollywood has been reluctant to cast black stars without a white 'buddy' as ideological chaperone to ensure its box office...because of his superstar status, the notable exception to this problem is Eddie Murphy." Eddie Murphy was cast in the role of Axel because Hollywood knew he could carry a film by himself, however, no other African Americans were in principal roles in "Beverly Hills Cop.” Guerrero also tells his reader that “Beverly Hills Cops” was originally written for Sylvester Stallone. Stallone as the character of Axel would have made the film completely different and would have made it more relevant to what King writes about in “Heroes in Hard Times.”


Blogger Vladigogo said...

You put the film in good context with the reading, but you never finish your thought...what then is your take on the film knowing what you now know from Guerrero? Does that change your perspective on the film? Is he correct?

7:03 PM  

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