Monday, April 27, 2015

The Blatant Sabotage of a Man Trying to Help His People

Eddie Murphy at 60th Academy Awards

Muhammad Rasheed - Interesting. And the next year Hollywood treated Harlem Nights like it was the worst movie ever made, and tried to humiliate him for directing and writing his own film that was full of black people.

Muhammad Rasheed - I loved Harlem Nights. I didn't find out the critics said all those things about it until just a few years ago. Gene Siskel said it offended him. How, I wonder? 

Danny Bronson - Awesome movie! 

Raymond Gardner - You're absolutely right -- they couldn't wait to pounce on him for Harlem Nights. It was world class Nigger-breaking and I don't think he ever directed again. But to nearly every black American, Harlem Nights is a classic! 

Ricky Mujica - Harlem Nights was funny! A classic! 

Muhammad Rasheed - I don't think he's ever been as confident as he was in this clip again. He probably seriously started doubting himself after the critics, and his billionaire "friends" that he respected so much, ripped into his so-called "vanity project" film to break him from his ambitions. They didn't want their cash cow going anywhere.

Eric C. Martin - What the hell?... Muhammad, Harlem Knights was sooooooo disappointing. It should've had tons of laughs, instead it was just MEH. I was so upset. I loved Foxx, Pryor, and Murphy and I barely chuckled at it.

What does being "full of black people" have to do with anything?

Muhammad Rasheed - I thought it was awesome, and as the other thread posters before you mentioned, they also thought it was awesome. It WAS full of tons of laughs and was chock-full-of-quotable moments, and everyone I knew from my neighborhood in Detroit loved it, too.

Being "full of black people" is important in an industry that traditionally underserves the black community. Usually, more often than not, "black roles" are stereotypical roles created by white writers, where they treat being a black American as a stock character, like "the gangster," or "the bank teller," so the black character is always the same 3-4 archetypes from the stereotype playbook. Consequently, actors who don't fit easily into what white casting directors think is "really black" often find themselves rarely acting. The solution is for blacks to be in positions of power so we can make our own platforms. Eddie tried to do that for his people when he found himself in the role as "biggest box office draw," and the people closest to him in that world --who either didn't get it, like you seem not to, or wanted to discourage the competition -- burned him for it.

Muhammad Rasheed
- Eric provide some insight into why you think Gene Siskel was offended by it, please.

Tracy A. Harris - Muhammad Rasheed...while I respect Murphy's adventurous endeavor, and appreciated that he gave roles to many African Americans but overall, it wasn't all that great. Perhaps had he tried directing again, he may have gotten better. Harlem Nights suffered from many insular moments of comedy rather than being consistently funny throughout. The "Take yo big ass home and brush yo one tooth" or "Ahh so yo wanna hit people with garbage cans" were funny scenes, don't get me wrong, but I think it just wasnt that funny or good overall. My two favorite EM movies are Boomerang and A Vampire in Brooklyn. In both, while Murphy is not the director, the stories flesh out a bit more and give his character a chance to breathe. In HN, while wearing so many "hats", what may have seemed funny to him, just didn't translate on screen as well. He's an artistic guy who shines in the roles he's given, b/c he focuses all his energy on doing what he does best, it just seemed based on that one movie that he directed, that wasn't his forte'.

Muhammad Rasheed - Hi, Tracy. I think your post helps illustrate the subjective nature of art in my responses to Eric in that post, as I have the opposite opinion to the majority of your points here. An individual's opinion regarding was is great, good, or bad in an art form is never a definitive or universal truth; I loved Harlem Nights and hated A Vampire in Brooklyn for example. And from where I'm from, I certainly knew more people who enjoyed the film more than disliked it, for a variety of personally subjective reasons as is normal.

Aside from it's merits as art to be enjoyed, I feel it absolutely was great as a business move, and was deliberately slapped down to prevent the superstar number one box office draw from creating a power move to challenge Hollywood's greedy six-studio cartel. I wish he wouldn't have listened to those people and stuck to his guns with what he knew was right, as reflected in his speech here.

JS Butler - But, what then do you attribute to Tyler Perry's success?

Muhammad Rasheed - What do you mean? Tyler followed the tried & true classic business formula.

JS Butler - That meaning, what exactly? What did he do that Murphy did not?

Muhammad Rasheed - He followed that formula through to its fruition. Eddie allowed the naysayers to clip his dream before it peaked.

JS Butler - Based on Harlem Nights, it did not look promising.

Muhammad Rasheed
- Why do you say that?

JS Butler - I saw he also attempted to translate his ability to morph in several characters as he had done with the Nutty Professor movies twice into a similar format for Norbit which banked south quickly, b/c he removed the essential element of humanity from the central character.

Muhammad Rasheed - On a budget of $30 million, Harlem Nights made $90 million+. It was certainly a business success. He could've used that to springboard himself into at LEAST where Tyler is now.

JS Butler - But how much of that was accessible to him in the aftermath of such a comedic atrocity/calamity? Tripling your money on a venture would lead to success for anyone else, but in Murphy's case?

Muhammad Rasheed - JS, that doesn't make any sense to me.

Muhammad Rasheed - Vampire in Brooklyn barely made back it's budget, and I don't know many people that liked it.

JS Butler - Tripling YOUR financial investment is one thing but tripling MY investment is something wholly different. If he tripled the money of others and was STILL denied the opportunity to do movies his way, something is wrong.

JS Butler - I loved Boomerang. It was consistently funny throughout.

Muhammad Rasheed
- Sabotage was wrong. The critics in the establishment attacked it, no different than they did Will's After Earth project (before it was even released).

JS Butler - Why wouldn't he RE-INVEST in himself though?

Muhammad Rasheed - I loved Boomerang, too.

Muhammad Rasheed
- Because he listened to the naysayers instead of himself.

JS Butler - I didn't see After Earth, it didn't look promising. JMO

Muhammad Rasheed - It's all just our opinions, JS.

JS Butler - I can't believe he put that much stock in the word of others if it made him money.

Muhammad Rasheed - He can get crippled by doubts just like many of us.

JS Butler - Perry believed in himself when he had nothing AND when he had built something.

Muhammad Rasheed - He sure did.

Muhammad Rasheed
- And he never reached the superstar status that Eddie did either.

Muhammad Rasheed - People are different.

JS Butler - Doesn't really need to. He's reached BILLIONAIRE status. Which in the grand scheme of things is MORE relevant?

Muhammad Rasheed - He wouldn't have reached that status if he didn't believe in himself.

JS Butler - Which?

Muhammad Rasheed - Tyler.

JS Butler
- Yes. But he is limiting himself by the types of movies he makes in his studios.

Muhammad Rasheed - lol He made his success based on those "limits." A level of success reached by no other black businessperson in that industry.

JS Butler - Not everyone is religious. His ham-fisted methodology can be a bit overbearing. If he's really aiming to become a player, he needs to broaden his movies.

JS Butler
- He could own Lionsgate at this point.

JS Butler - Just curious, what was your take on Django?

Muhammad Rasheed
- Tyler worked the tried & true business formula of catering to the people who bought into his vision and shared his worldview. Outsider opinions absolutely do not matter. He's CLEARLY a "player" now.

Muhammad Rasheed - RE: Django Unchained, I thought it was okay. Gave it a 'B.'

JS Butler
-My grandfather loved "Westerns". As a child, I was always watching Wagon Train, GunSmoke, Big Valley, The Rifleman, etc growing up. I always wondered the same question: Where were WE while all of this was going on? I occasionally saw Black comedy actors providing white comic relief and Black coonery, but that did not do a sufficient job of telling our story. I saw many public African Americans stating their disdain for the movie even before it debuted, but my thing was why not pool resources and tell our story the way you want to if Tarantino bothered them that much? When Spike Lee ran over budget for Malcolm X, he went to Oprah, Bill Cosby, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and others to secure additional funding, yet this was a great western that could easily have been told by us, yet wasn't and none of them thought to ban together to get a similar project going. There is a wealth of resources in the artistic Black community, from writers, to directors, to art designers, to actors...yet there is a dearth of singular sourcing when it comes to joining together to help one another. Odd.

Muhammad Rasheed
- ^The message within this post right here is why I get irritated at the very vocal and unfair black community attacks on Tyler Perry. The phenomenal lack of insight from my people on that item tends to make me go into a light depression. It doesn't MATTER if his content appeals to you or not. It's BIGGER than that. Would it have mattered if whether any of Spike's black star investors personally believed in Malcolm X's ideology or not?

People need to wake the hell up for real... >:(

Scott Tucker - I hated Moonstruck. I couldn't even sit all the way though it. Cher and Nick Cage are 2 of the worst actors in history. Harlem Nights was a classic.

Karla Holland - One of my favorite movies. Whenever I hear someone say they hate that movie, I know they are just following reviews they read online. I can't take them seriously with films after that.

Muhammad Rasheed - That's how I feel when the anti-After Earth folk parrot that nepotism drivel.

Kamau Mkafele Mshale - I didn't find out the critics said those things till just now

Brian McGee
- Harlem Nights is a classic!

Todd Holland - Damn...I'd never seen this...I don't watch the Oscars ...Eddie hit that ass with a lot of truth....Also,Harlem Nights is a classic!!!

See Also:

What's a "Vanity Project?"

No Room for You at the Top

The Subjectivity of Art

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