Thursday, January 03, 2008

Eddie Murphy as a White Man

After reading FRAMING BLACKNESS, take a look at this Eddie Murphy skit from SNL about him going out into New York City dressed as a white man.

Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live

Lethal Weapon/Heroes in Hard Times

In the movie Lethal Weapon, a viewer notices a change of scenery based on the lead characters. In the past, blacks always posed as a stand in or perhaps anything but the main role. Although in this film, a black man was not only a lead role, but there was a multi-racial duo that starred in the movie. This black cop/white cop duo changes the whole idea of blacks being secondary.

In Neal King's Heroes in Hard Times, there is a chapter where he focuses on White Male Guilt. I related this chapter to the scene in Lethal Weapon where Mel Gibson (Riggs) gets in a fight with drug dealers. During this scene, Riggs experiences a fight that escalated from him paying a price that was not of the asking price of the dealers. Throughout the fight, Riggs loses control and grabs the gun from the dealer, while also demanding that his fellow officers shoot the dealers in order to help him. Riggs clearly did not understand the danger that he was putting himself and his officers into. At one point of the scene you see Riggs sort of dischelved and trying to pull himself together, which concludes that he is not stable. This entire scene relates to Neal King's chapter on White Male Guilt because "cops struggle with their anger toward demanding and intruding others, and then turn it backward toward the most racist and misognyist of white men" (King, p.65).

Beverly Hills Cop/Framing Blackness

Alex Foley, who is played by Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop is a Black police officer with an edge to him. Foley does not possess the typical qualities that an avergae cop does. What I mean is, the "white cops" portrayed in this movie are considered to act by the book and have a strict authoritarian role in regards to the police force. The white cops are somewhat old school whereas Foley has more of a freestyle way of speaking and acting, regardless of him being part of the law; he stays true to himself!
Foley's blackness is shown throughout the film mainly due to his past and his attitude. Foley was originally a hood from the streets who did not perform any admireable acts. Foley became a cop and basically transformed himself into a better person leaving his nasty past where it belongs. Throughout the film, Foley aims to achieve any goal he wants and does not let anything or anyone get in his way. His blackness could be presented and stood out by his bold attitude and his anti-authoratarian outlook.
In Ed Guerrero's Framing Blackness, he focuses on white domination and sheds light on how blacks appear as criminals in films. What is refreshing about Beverly Hills Cop is that you have a black man who lived up to the black stereotypes and then overruled it by becoming a man of the law, but still did not let his ethnicity or morals change him. Guerrero also focuses on Blaxploitation which is a type of film that rears towards the black audience by using mainly black actors within the film. Once again, this aspect of blackness is refreshing because in these types of films, black individuals usually take the main role, whereas back in the day, blacks were always the white man's sidekick.

Also, Foley's relaxed dress and attitude made him stand out not only as an individual, but as a black cop. Foley posessed "cocky interpertations of blackness on the dominant white social order" which made his blackness more apparent (Guerrero, p.132). Lastly, when Guerrero mentioned "blackness as a challenge to white exclusion" I felt that Foley's character lived up to this phrase and created a new outlook on black actors (p.132).