Sunday, January 06, 2008

Beverly Hills Cop

In the Beverly Hills Cop series, Axel Foley’s blackness is dealt with in multiple ways, which is described in Ed Guerrero’s book Framing Blackness. Eddie Murphy’s character, Axel, was part of the common “Sidney Poiter syndrome” where he was “a good boy in a totally white world, with no wife, no sweetheart, no woman to love or kiss, helping the white man solve the white man’s problem.” His character is also portrayed as a stereotypical African-American city man from Detroit with street skills (not all lawful) and a loud and overwhelming personality, such as pick-pocketing, breaking into door locks, tricking window alarms, constant cursing and loud jokes and laughter. The “black culture” is completely embodied within his one persona and actions. The only other time you see another black cop is when he is in Detroit and speaking with his boss or encounters service help such as a food server at the hotel or valet parker at the Playboy House. Placing Axel in an almost completely white community allowed the movies to reach and appeal to a wider audience. These films were the exception to the usual scene of a black star with a white “buddy” to ensure its box office. His “blackness” is also dealt with by following the audience’s desire to watch the black star in a comical role. Eddie Murphy definitely fills this role with his Axel persona, either by constantly fooling criminals in creative ways or playing tricks on the Beverly Hills cops that he works with.


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