Five Disturbing Things About The Film ‘Coming to America’
Sure, I know what you are thinking: ‘what the hell is this guy on about?’
This is most likely for one of two reasons.
The first is you have never heard of Coming to America. As it came out in 1988 you are probably thinking this because you were born sometime after 1980 and have probably stopped reading already anyway…
The second is because you are wondering what disturbing things happen in Coming to America?
Your inner monologue is all like: “But Monty, isn’t that the kind of funny movie with Eddie Murphy and Darth Vader? Oh, and Arsenio Hall? Hey, whatever happened to Arsenio Hall?”
Well yes, it is the movie with Eddie Murphy, James Earl Jones and Arsenio Hall (who has a late night talk show starting soon on CBS) but it’s not kind of funny at all!
Sure, there are maybe some funny elements to it, who hasn’t enjoyed reliving the line “sexual chocolate”, but those moments aside, it is a movie that has not received the criticism and denigration it deserves.
And so, the top five disturbing things about Coming to America.
1. It is anti-democratic
As you might recall, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the son of King Jaffee Joffer (played by Darth Vader) who is the King of Zamunda.
And Jaffee is a real King. We are talking a “King Louis XVI” kind of King.
Everywhere the guy goes he is accompanied by scantily clad women throwing rose petals down for him to walk on. Seriously, this is what happens.
There is no mention of a Parliament and it is made abundantly clear that whatever the King wills, the King gets. Akeem only ends up with his future wife because Joffee allows it.
From any kind of pro-democracy stand point it’s hard to see the King, and indeed the whole royal family, as anything other than dictators.
2. It openly advocates appalling treatment of female staff.
When the men in the royal family have baths they seem to all receive fellatio from the women who are employed to clean said member of the royal family.
In fact, it was the cleaning of a said member that leads to the line “the Royal penis is clean, your highness”.
When you look back on it now it’s kind of hard to believe the studio got away with that.
But then the 80’s was a time when Mel Gibson was allowed to say (in Lethal Weapon) “What are you? A fag?”, so blow jobs in the bath isn’t that much of a stretch.
Anyway, forcing your staff to do such things is simply not cool.
3. It has no respect for copyright laws.
One of the most appalling characters in the movie, Cleo McDowell, has made his fortune by flagrantly ripping off McDonalds.
He has copied the franchise to the point that he has a version of the Big Mac called the Big Mc. The difference in his words:
“They both contain two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. But they use a sesame seed bun. My buns have no seeds.”
It’s no wonder we went on to have such a big problem with stealing music and movies off the internet when a generation of people was taught to disregard intellectual property laws like that.
4. It re-establishes two of the greatest bigots in modern US cinema
And with these words “Mortimer, we’re back” two racist bigots were released back into the world of high finance in the US.
As you will remember, Eddie Murphy was in an earlier movie called Trading Places which told the story of two billionaires, Randolph and Mortimer, who make a $1 bet about whether a poor black man can be turned into a successful business man and if a rich white man can be turned into a thief – given the right societal influences.
They are pretty nasty dudes.
Anyway, the Eddie Murphy character, along with the white guy, played by Dan Akroyd, gets their own back by exposing the one time architects of their respective fates and reducing them to ruins.
That is until Prince Akeem comes along and randomly hands them thousands of dollars while they are sleeping in a park living as bums.
Presumably they then run off to amass and sell off subprime loans…
5. Cleo McDowell’s treatment of his daughters.
And lastly back to Cleo McDowell, the aforementioned worst thing about the movie.
Perhaps realising he is about to get taken to the cleaners by the largest burger chain in the world, Cleo has apparently decided that his back-up plan is to marry off his daughters to the richest men he can possibly find.
At the start of the movie he is trying to partner up Lisa, his eldest daughter, with Darryl. Darryl is the son of the family who apparently owns Soul Glo, a hair product that is modeled on Afro Sheen.
When Akeem shows an interest in Lisa he does everything in his power to get in the way of the relationship, not wanting his daughter to end up with a “goat herder from Zamunda”.
Suffice to say his unbridled joy at discovering the true identity of his first born’s suitor is galling.
Ugly, ugly stuff.
And so, I think you will agree, that is a pretty compelling case.
Coming to America is a pretty nasty movie.
Still, it’s better than The Nutty Professor.