THE NUTTY PROFESSOR

This film Stars Jada Pinkett as Miss Purty and Eddie Murphy as Professor Sherman Klump. I'd not seen an Eddie Murphy movie in some time, having determined not to contribute to the success of anyone who earned a living destroying others.

On stage, Mr. Murphy demeaned others and encouraged the most vile use of language imaginable. He made the comedy club entertainment format popular as he used his audience as props in his routine by drawing attention to their oddities and imperfections. Audiences roared their approval, even playing along when his sharp and merciless wit was directed towards them.

On screen, Eddie Murphy's persona represented a stereotype of Black Americans carefully developed for the enjoyment of white audiences. As White audiences enjoyed themselves at our expense, courtesy of Mr. Murphy, they learned the commercial version of Black culture, affirmed by Black would-be songsters laboring in the sweat mines of rap music. The massive marketing and proliferation of such filth not only kept white audiences ignorant of real Black culture, but began to serve as indoctrination for Black youth struggling to find themselves. (There is a parallel between the artist who destroys his community with his craft and the dope pusher who does the same, the main difference being clientele: addicts pay for their momentary pleasure and their destruction with the same dollar; those frequenting establishments providing entertainment at the expense of others do not recognize they are hurting themselves and their communities. But both groups are self-destructing.)

In The Nutty Professor, Mr. Murphy makes an about-face from his previous persona. Here the brilliant but obese, reserved and shy Professor Klump falls for lovely Miss Purty. He summons the courage to ask her out, only to be humiliated and driven back into his shell by the public ridicule of an obnoxious comedian. His problem appears solved when he accidentally becomes a guinea pig for his rapid weight reduction formula and creates the svelte Buddy Love as his uninhibited alter ego. His first act is to avenge Professor Klump. While Professor Klump is too reserved to defend himself at the comedy club, Buddy Love publicly destroys the comedian, pointing out his weakness in playing on the weaknesses of others.

But Buddy Love is not really the opposite of Professor Klump; he is the slimmed-down, attractive, version of Professor Klump, unencumbered by reservation, inhibition or social restraint. And herein is the problem: without restraint Professor Klump (Buddy Love) is not a real likeable person. Professor Klump recognizes the defects of his creation but is powerless to rid himself of the newer, slimmer, sexier, more  desirable "me." But it is a movie, and unlike real life all works out in an hour and thirty-five minutes.

Perhaps The Nutty Professor is merely an attempt to recapture his former market and represents no real change in Mr. Murphy, or his message? After all, those who deal in destruction are merely misguided businessmen. But, in the emergence of Buddy Love as the self assured, wise-cracking, womanizer, Mr. Murphy appears to deride his previous characters, perhaps signaling a real change in the message he intends to present to his audiences. And there is a good message--when what is pleasurable is also harmful, to ourselves or others, we should forgo momentary pleasure. The shame is that language prevents admission to the very young, particularly since there was no need for it--the language did not make any point more emphatic or impassioned or add to understanding of time or circumstance.  

It' s no longer at theaters, but you can get it at 90X29-w-logo.gif (1557 bytes).