As it stands, the rumors appear to be true and not just “fake news.” 😉 One of my all-time favorite movies is getting a sequel. 30 years after the first one hit the big screen in 1988, it looks like Coming to America is getting a companion film. If there is any remote chance you haven’t seen the first one (I honestly don’t know how that’s possible. That’s like the experience of wearing clothes for the first time. *inside joke*), Eddie Murphy starred as an African prince who – in trying to escape an arranged marriage – came to New York City to find his bride. He worked alongside the likes of James Earl Jones, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley and John Amos to create the classic comedy.
As far as black comedies go, there aren’t too many that carry the same kind of a cultural appreciation as Coming To America. Just about every black family I know has adopted The Royal House of Zamunda, Semmi, Mr. McDowell, Lisa, the good gentlemen at My-T-Sharp, Rev. Brown, and Randy Watson as extended members of their families. And “Queen to Be” has replaced The Lord’s Prayer as the go-to wedding song. To this day, I am still quite certain that 8507 Queens Blvd is the navigational center of the culinary universe.
All of that being said, you’d think I’d be stoked about the idea of a sequel. Well, I’m not. Not in the least bit. First of all, there is the obvious cinematic rule of inferior sequels to consider (with The Godfather 2, Aliens, and The Dark Knight probably being the lone exceptions). But more importantly, I know us. In 2018 – another year in the golden era of over sensitivity – there is no way a movie like Coming to America (beloved as it is) gets released today with the same level of mainstream validation as it once had. I’m sure some folk will still enjoy it; mostly the people who like to enjoy an hour or two of mindless, guiltless humor. But, when you consider the general reception to comedy these days – especially comedies flirting with socially involved themes – I’d expect just as many people to find reasons to boycott the movie than I would for them to see it. I can see a litany of round table discussions, blogs and think pieces, Change.org petitions and hashtag campaigns all popping everywhere in protest over how the movie dealt with “complex social issues” stemming from the representation of African immigrants, wealthy black men and their preference for “light skinned” women, the social dynamics of natural hair vs. using Soul Glo, Hollywood’s hatred of black women as depicted by Arsenio Hall playing the role of one, the substandard living conditions in Akeem’s apartment, the social implications of Daryl’s money-motivated entitlement, and the cultural appropriation of white directors and writers telling the story of an African. Studios would be pulling this movie out of theaters faster than you can say “House of Cards.”
A part of me wants this sequel to succeed. And I definitely plan on seeing it, if for no other reasons but to satisfy my own curiosity and to compare it to the original. But in an ever-increasingly pronounced culture of political correctness, I don’t expect the sequel to get the same level of love…even if it miraculously is just as good (or better) than the original.
If I’m proven wrong on all my points – that the sequel is both good and free from the social backlash I’m predicting – I’ll be first to cry out “I know there’s a Gaaaawd somewhere!”