coming-to-america

Breaking the Narrative Episode 91: A Story of a Kang! Masculine Humility as Taught by Coming To America!

Before we begin I wish to apologize for the delay in the posting of this article. All delays and issues in its release are due to the time needed for the Calgary Expo trial date. Details of which will be discussed elsewhere in the appropriate manner. Thank you for your understanding.

In the past half a decade we’ve heard several calls from groups such as Black Lives Matter and the African Socialist group “Uhuru” for the necessity of an all African ethnostate, pushing the image of Black Panther’s Wakanda as a proof of concept and justification for such a place. These depictions don’t hold much in the name of something I deem very important for a balance male perspective: humility. The ability to see one’s failings and flaws objectively and to learn from them without being overtaken by one’s ego is vital. I am of the mind that this concept is a necessity for the compassion and dignity of not just the masculine but of the human condition, a trait that a large majority of feminists and ideologues of any stripe sorely lack.

As such, I am wishing to do this review of the Eddie Murphy classic Coming to America, a film whose fictional country of Zamunda is a precursor to the contemporary depictions of the fictional country of Wakanda. In this, Murphy, who also produced the film, plays Prince Akeem, a largely spoiled heir to his father’s throne (depicted by James Earl Jones) who decides on his birthday to scamper off to the United States to find his own bride, as he is displeased with how he can’t even be allowed to wipe his own ass by himself. This comedy addresses so many of the concepts as depicted by the recent Marvel Cinematic venture far more competently and realistically, nearly 30 years prior. Let’s Hammer This In!

We begin to the awakening of our beloved Prince Akeem of Zamunda as he is roused by a string accompaniment and walks on flower petals to his toilet for his morning shit, followed by being bathed by nubile nude young women and groomed by various servants and even aided in gargling. His discontent on not being able to have his own choices over his manhood and future is apparent. Amusingly, this is discussed over an intercom across a lavish and excessive dining room table meant to house a party of nearly 50 for a family of three eating a simple breakfast. I like to touch here on how King Jafee states that in addition to being the vested monarch of his lands, he is also a ‘concerned dad.’ Even throughout his introduction to his arranged wife, it is shown that as a man Akeem wishes his own autonomy, his own individuality.

What occurs here is an important matter to discuss, as so many young men don’t even know currently how to express such concerns over their life and how to address matters of the heart. This is due to the fact that males of our age are taught to address such matters in a half-hearted and incomplete manner, namely out of the fear we’ve seen arise over masculine passion as I’ve discussed in the past. It’s after this we see our Prince undergo combat training with the closest thing he has to a friend – his trainer Semmi – as they discuss his yearning for not so much a concubine, but an equal as a bride, discussing the value of intelligence over ‘tradition.’ Next we skip to the night of the party celebrating Akeem’s 21st birthday and introduction to who has been raised from birth to marry him – the daughter of one of his military’s leaders. After a short discussion he finds  her unfit and wishes once more to find his own bride.

This is because even as the song given by one of his aides described she was made to be ‘perfect’ and ‘free from infection’. In short she is a completely blank slate meant to be molded by him. If a feminist screamed and wailed over this depiction of a woman, I could understand ever so slightly because this woman was essentially raised to be an object, a sex slave if you will. I have made it no secret that I do not believe in perfection, due to the matter of perception, and Akeem here ends up seeming to be of the same mind. He then proceeds to have fun with the fact that she was trained to follow his every command regardless of its ridiculousness. As a comedy, this is of course an exaggerated commentary on the horrible treatment African countries of that time had towards their women and their men both.

When he again discusses his concern with his father, the King mistakenly thinks he is simply going to sew his wild oats. Soon after this and his preparations to go to America, he mentions to Semmi that his true intent is to find a truly worthy bride for himself, one that is as intelligent as she is beautiful. Entertainingly they choose to go to Queens in New York. This is reinforced by the cabbie once they get there to be a bad idea, but Akeem persists, and they then proceed  to get essentially robbed of every bit of royal clothing and culture they brought with them. It is from here that Semmi and Akeem try to learn to blend in and end up working for off-brand McDonalds. Akeem is clearly amused by the dirt and filth of America. Its also here we find the beginning of what will develop into the identity politics of today in the discussion of the change of Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali through interestingly enough the adoption of Islam into his life.

This is depicted in the barbershop which neighbors the shit apartment Akeem decides he wishes to live in so he can experience poverty first hand. This is interesting, because not only does it mirror the experiences of myself who sacrificed having a life handed to him to make one of his very own, but it shows how he would end up being a much better ruler knowing what the most destitute experience on a daily basis. The entire time, Semmi is less than impressed with his liege’s desires, because he, not being of noble birth, is likely a lot more familiar with the trials and tribulations of the underclass.

During his first attempts at trying to talk to American women, Akeem ends up finding some of what at the time would seem to be the most unbelievable THOTs. Granted it’s 30 years before the term would gain wide usage. We are talking the most obscene and obtuse sluts, hoes, and cunts that 80’s New York can drum up. At this point Akeem and Semmi are far from impressed. They return to the barbershop. Clarence (who cut Akeem’s princely lock off) decides to take them to a “Black Awareness Rally.” This is where we see the most blatant of race realism and baiting that was birthed from the 80’s. Its apparent that this was Murphy’s commentary on his distaste for some of the excesses of the Black identity politics culture of the era that will evolve into the yearning for segregation we are battling today.  It is here that Akeem finds his bride-to-be in Lisa McDowell.

From here, we go through the usual fish-out-of-water hi-jinks and nonsense until Lisa falls in love with the royal fool as he also tries to get into her father’s good graces, being told early on that the way to an “American girl’s heart” is through her father… interesting concept. Eventually this leads to the 40 days he was allotted running out, the facade dropping on his earned humility by his father, and eventually the happy-ever-after, following multiple missteps and the usual rivalries. This ends with Akeem and Lisa getting betrothed, Semmi growing in his own ways, and the two father-figures in this film, Mr. McDowell and King Jaffe, becoming  fast friends in Zamunda, even going as far as to solve the problem McDowell had with McDonalds in film by moving the franchise to Zamunda.

At the time this movie was produced, a share of popular black identitarians of the time criticized the film for ‘betraying’ the black culture of the day, criticism that Murphy rightly called out for being uncharitable as well as “superficial and uniquely vicious. I mention this to, like I did with the mentions of gynocentric lordship over lawmakers, show that the issues we are dealing with in relation to race realism, puritanism, and disdain for cultural mixing are nothing new. Far from it – they are simply being exacerbated and amplified through the lens of social media and cold, inhuman nature of the internet.

So what parts of the culture were betrayed by Murphy do you ask? Why the commodification of sexuality which turned it into not something enjoyed between lovers but a product that is sold like any other. Then, the flat out promotion and glorification of empty vanity that has riddled the black community since it was robbed of its fathers and its more honest and noble values of hard work and self-determination. From the depiction of several works over the years, it’s shown that as a comedian, one thing that Murphy values beyond anything else is ingenuity, something sorely lacking in the heavy sampling and bought songwriting full of stolen valor that paints contemporary black culture.

Its likely why you don’t see a whole lot of Murphy outside of a couple of more serious works, or for Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special. This is because Murphy, like Morgan Freeman, is sick of the idea of race being depicted as something to lament over,  so much so that in 2019, Murphy is looking to bring back one of the pinnacles of the Blaxploitation era, “Dolemite.”  All while also playing the father of Richard Pryor in the biopic of perhaps the greatest comedian of the 20th century next to George Carlin.

Now before I hear anyone start to claim that I have no place commenting on ‘blacks and black culture because you a white faggot’ sort of shit: Try saying that to my older brother, who is turning into a wonderful father figure and stepdad to his stepson Joe and doting father over his young daughter ‘Fred.’ I know I know, my brother has doomed his daughter Winifred to constant mockery by choosing to call her such but I never said my brother wasn’t socially inept in some ways. However his wife and her family who came to this country from Kenya last I checked respect and love him all the same. He is even doing well to learn Swahili to ensure that they understand their family history alongside his own, a very laudable act if I may say so. My point is as follows – anyone who is against honest merging of cultural concepts (i.e. ‘cultural appropriation’) is an idiot. We are more than the sum of our parts. We are what we make of what we are given.

Now what about the timing of this piece? This is because at my core, I’m a patriot of the United States of America. While I never served in the military due to my disdain towards some of the influences behind the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, I do honor and support the veterans of those conflicts appropriately. Namely, by wishing that they be able to come home to their families and live in peace, and are revered by our citizenry, not necessarily for the acts they have performed, but the sense of duty and intent of protecting all of us they walked into those countries with. I wish to celebrate this Independence Day by celebrating a strong American role model that should be listened to by all. Eddie Murphy with this essential celebration of what it means to him to be American in the purest way possible: By being able to look your neighbor, who is being a damned fool, straight in the eye and screaming at the top of your lungs “FUCK YOU!”  May the gods constantly bless you great Prince. Blessed 4th of July to my fellow Americans and may you Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.