Exotic locations, wild animals, vibrant African costumes, amazing musical performances and funny characters. You’ll find all this and more in the newly released movie; “Coming 2 America”.
Black actors and film producers have been putting in a lot of work to ensure that African stories are told by Africans. While this is commendable, it is also important to look deeply into these movies, to see if the stories are truly a reflection of what it means to be black.
“Coming 2 America” is the sequel to the first movie “Coming to America”, if you didn’t watch it, here is the recap, you can thank me later.
In the first movie released on 29th June 1988, a Prince named Akeem traveled to New York to find a wife after rejecting an arranged marriage on his twenty-first birthday. Prince Akeem and his valet Semmi (Arsenio Hall) pretended to be exchange students in the quest for finding true love that is not based on the fact that he is a prince and heir to the throne of Zamunda.
The second part of the movie seems to recycle this plot. It focuses on yet another love story that fights against all obstacles to be together even though it is frowned on by the royal household. In this story, Prince Akeem finds out that he has a son who is called Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). Lavelle is a 31-year old living a very average life in America without a father figure. He seems lost and without purpose. All that seemed to change when his father leaves Zamunda to come and take him home. I will not want to reveal anything new. In this article, all your questions ranging from if Zamunda is a real place to who acted in the movie will be answered. First, let’s go-ahead to discuss the major themes in the movie and what they mean for us as Africans.
Major Themes In The Movie “Coming 2 America”
1. Black Stereotypes
The problem with many African/Black American movies is that they tend to represent black people in one way. Africans in reality is diverse with rich cultures and traditions. It is sad that when a film in set in Africa, it usually represents Africans as simple-minded people. Even though Zamunda is not a real country and is only a figment of the imagination of the writers (Kenya Barris, Barry W Blaustein and David Sheffield), there are still lots of ways that they could have made the setting more realistic and relatable.
Some critics believe that because of Hollywood, westerners still have ancient view of Africans as a set of backward, primitive people. Even the black American family in the movie; Lavelle, his mother (Leslie Jones) and his uncle, Reem (Tracy Morgan) were represented as black Americans with no sense of their roots and culture. These are all disturbing representations and I’m sure no one wants to be viewed that way.
2. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is not funny and I know you agree too. So why did the writers of the movie feel the need to include a scene where Mary sexually abused prince Akeem and then infuse comedy into it? My theory is that the writers felt the story needed to go in such a way that prince Akeem would have a son without cheating on Lisa and without deliberately having intercourse with someone else and that was why they felt they needed to add that scene. I still feel there would have been other creative and less offensive ways to go about it. Sexual abuse is a very sensitive issue and since this is 2021 where more people are speaking up about it, the entertainment industry has a big role to play in pushing the narrative and spreading the word.
Even though the movie was for the most part archaic in its representation of some societal issues, they did try to infuse some feminist ideas into it. In “Coming 2 America” Prince Akeem had 3 daughters, the eldest being Meeka (KiKi Layne), and the younger ones; Tinashe (Akiley Love) and Omma (Bella Murphy) who surprisingly is Eddie Murphy’s real daughter.
In the movie, Meeka is incredibly strong, graceful and intelligent. She trained all her life to fit into the shoes of being the next ruler only to have it snatched away from her. She was understandably upset. Wouldn’t you be too? However, because of her loyalty to Zamunda, she eventually built a good relationship with Lavelle who was meant to replace her. Throughout the movie, she showed great strength and bravery, especially when she needed to save the nation from General Izzi (Wesley Snipes).
Even Lisa Joffer (Lisa McDowell) who acts as Prince Akeem’s wife is a fierce woman as she has always been from the first part of the movie where she had her life which was not subjected to Akeem. In the second part of the movie, she was not afraid to stand up for what was right and call Prince Akeem out for what he was doing wrong. She bravely challenged her husband who was skeptical about allowing his daughter Meeka to rule Zamunda. She expressed her disappointment in how he was being a hypocrite by marrying her against tradition and yet still sticking to the same tradition he had always kicked against.
I like the fact that most of the women in the movie were represented as strong and independent.
4. Black empowerment
Finally, one of the major themes expressed in “Coming 2 America” is Black empowerment. Before now, very few movies showed images of black royalty and black excellence. Apart from the first part of the movie “Coming to America” and Wakanda, how many movies can we truly say have achieved that? In 2021 and beyond we look forward to better representation of black people, not as slaves or primitive people, but as strong, exposed, powerful people and this movie seem to do just that.
In summary, “Coming 2 America” is an amazing movie, not just for its active involvement of Africans but also for its easy entertainment. If you want a good relaxation time, or you just really want to see Davido singing, go watch the movie right now!