That Time Adam Sandler Went to Africa

Ok, first of all, let’s get this unarguable fact out of the way: Adam Sandler is NOT hilarious/funny/comical in any way, shape, or form. All his movies are one wackjob after another of epically poor comedy. Somehow, he’s a popular, accomplished Hollywood actor, which is fine. Really, it is; Americans are not exactly famed for their wise choices in whom they bestow the privilege of celebrity (See: Snooki, pre-2014 KardashJenners, Miley Cyrus’ non-twerking rear etc.). So, yeah, I have hitherto let Adam Sandler blur into the mass of white Americans that are famous for absolutely nothing in particular…until now.

So Adam Sandler has a new movie out called “Blended”, starring his co-talentless Hollywood pal, Drew Barrymore. The trailer:

Quick recap:

Adam goes on a karmically bad date with Drew, and they somehow happen to know the same person who has TWO tickets to Africa, this person gives them the tickets and they both go on FAMILY vacations to Africa, where they are forced to live with each other, maybe become friends, maybe screw around a little bit. Blah blah blahhhhhh.

Logical inconsistencies (because I don’t know how two tickets multiply into about 8, but let’s go with it) aside, the entire premise of this film is based on tired, overused, frankly embarrassing tropes about Africa.

First of all, they’re off to AFRICA. Yes, the COUNTRY of Africa, no country in particular. But who cares about details and specificity when it comes to Africa? Who is going to fact-check, anyway? Are Africans going to see this movie? Aren’t they too busy dying/starving to see the movie in the first place? Right, Hollywood?! Americans have bluntly refused to be specific when it comes to Africa. I don’t get it- you can tell me about your vacation in Mykonos, a small island, in the country of GREECE, which is in continent of EUROPE, but you cannot tell me what country you went to in the whole of Africa?! It is downright lazy and insulting. But it’s cool. They are off to Africa. Yay!

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They land in Africa and, in true regal fashion, are greeted by the wild animals; the savannah; and (of course) those nameless, personality- and personhood-deficient, singing Africans. Africans in Hollywood movies are ALWAYS singing and dancing; it’s like an endless flashmob. I keep wondering where these singing Africans are, because I’ve never seen them in all my 21+ years of living on the continent. If this singing is really an African thing, those grumpy Lagosians might have missed the memo. Realistically, I don’t even think the combative African heat is conducive enough for carols and jingles. I mean, I don’t see how you can go singing on the streets of Lagos and not die of dehydration, or a heat stroke, or both. But hey, it’s Hollywood, let’s continue.

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To be honest, I’m kind of jealous. I certainly don’t receive this kind of welcome when I land in Lagos. Last time I landed in Murtala Muhammed Airport, my mum refused to claim me because I was apparently dressed like a homeless person. But here they are, with a presumably starving, yet unbelievably joyous, choir of Africans to herald their welcome. Life is really not fair.

At some point, some excessively enthused African man (another staple of Hollywood African movies) shouts “Is everyone ready to see the REAL Africa!” He then proceeds to take them on a Safari where they ride on ostriches (such fun, I wonder why they don’t have this attraction at the Lagos zoo. Does Lagos even have a zoo?); watch lions devour an animal (lions eating- only in Africa, people); and take leisure air rides across the vast African savannah (again: take notes, Lagos). The REAL Africa, he says. Of course, don’t we all ride ostriches for fun, and have pet lions? Oh, and who cares about buildings, roads, and other markers of civilization? The real Africa inextricably means animals, and endless dusty roads. No human beings in sight, by the way.

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Who cares about humanizing Africans, who cares about highlighting some humanity in these Africans? Hollywood manages to humanize African animals more than it does its people, it’s fascinating to watch. No, I lie, it is downright pitiful and I’m so over Hollywood’s lazy storytelling when it comes to Africa. I mean, it’s bloody 2014. The depiction of this mythical country of Africa is tired, the horse is dead and the world needs you to stop flogging its cadaver. We’re collectively over it, ok?!

Sadly, in some way, this depiction mirrors real life when foreigners visit Africa. Africans are just the backdrop, the faceless blur, the nameless entities that seem to interrupt while foreigners find meaning and existential truths in their interactions with African beasts of the wild. When they say “going to Africa changed my life”, they really mean “staring at a lion from my Safari caravan changed my life” or “taking a Facebook profile picture with some kid I found in a shelter got me many Facebook likes.”

It’s summer time in America, which means it’s that time of the year when my college Facebook friends “give back to Africa” by changing their profile picture to highlight the deep understanding of humanity that they gleaned from talking at interacting with a nameless African kid for all of 2 minutes. I mean, it’s great that coming within 3 feet of an elephant can radically change your outlook on life. Yay you, and yay the elephant. It’s great that going to “Africa”, spending time in hotels and barely speaking to any actual Africans panoramically enhances your world view. Go on, tell me more stories of how your 3-week trip made you a better person. I’m eager to listen. No, really, I am.

I shall be here, judging every last one of you with ALL my might.

In (not so) other news, I’m tired of people.

 

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68 thoughts on “That Time Adam Sandler Went to Africa

  1. This has completely made my day! It’s like everything that runs through my mind as I watch those utterly ridiculous movies are in this post. Also, it’s amazing how seemingly every single African, no matter which country they’re from, has the exact same accent.
    One time I got royally pissed when on an episode of one of the CSIs some guy claimed to have gotten AIDS from a blood transfusion he got in Africa. Ugh

  2. Reblogged this on I Am Akotowaa and commented:
    I haven’t even watched this yet, but I had to reblog it.
    I’ve never lived anywhere but Ghana, and I can assure you that nobody actually gives a pesewa about you when you arrive! DEFINITELY not enough to serenade you. Because, guess what! Africans have things. To. Do.

  3. It’s a freaking comedy made in America, not a documentary – sure it’s ignorant but at least it’s a ‘happy’ Africa and not full of famine and corruption. And I thought this was about how the media thinks of Africa as a country? I see a butt hurt expat hating on Sandler. In fact here are some movies he was in which weren’t half bad: Big Daddy, and Happy Gilmore.

    • How convenient for you, Jim, to sit there and say “it’s a comedy, and not a documentary”. I’ve got news for you: representation matters, and words matter. Of course, I don’t expect you to know anything about this, more less empathize; it’s not your continent, or your people that have consistently been demeaned and dehumanized, used as a fodder for tasteless American comedy. So, no, I’m not surprised by your statement.

      And, just so you know, I am not an expat. I am a fully-fledged Nigerian, born and bred. I don’t know what confused you- that I can write in English, or that I have access to the internet. Africans are literate too- we don’t just hang around the arrival section of airports to serenade foreigners. Sometimes, we get an education. Surprise!

      No, I’m not watching any Adam Sandler movies. Not into that kind of BDSM, but thanks for the heads up.

      • I don’t see your point in all this artical. this is comedy.. I agree with Jim…you are ignorant and your article makes no sense at all..and Yes, Africanst like to sing..check a good example of South Africa, Mozambique, etc.. they sing on each event. I come from Tanzania, and we do sing. and yes, we are rich in animals in Africa.. may be nigeria is not luck, but tanzania and kenya are blessed. so stop your ignorance

      • @Kim You said you are from Tanzania. Where is Tanzania, isn’t it in East Africa? Well Nigeria is in West Africa, and most wildlife are found in Eastern Africa. It is not like we don’t have animals in other countries. Also, you mentioned that Africans like singing during events. Yes we do, but what was the event that occurred in the movie, an actor (not a political dignitary or someone respected worldwide) visited a country in Africa. People do have things to do and worry about, rather than serenading some actor. I know that in Nigeria, whenever we see a white person, we would just be excited to see someone of a different colored skin, and sometimes, we might shout “see oyinbo”.

      • So I am South African – Born and Bred too and the article is amazing!! I also cringe at the moment the elusive all encompassing AFRICA is mentioned… As for all the ignorance comments… Really??? @Kim you say you have lived all your life in Ghana? Do you stand at the airport and sing to unknown individuals from lands beyond your borders just because it’s a hobby??? I know I don’t… And as a South African I am somewhat disgusted that you can say that we love to sing… Like it’s our ‘thing’… How can you judge when you have never been here? Because we sing at events? Don’t the Americans sing at every main sporting event? I HIGHLY doubt you can use celebratory events as the sole basis for your argument.
        On a personal note – I would be ever so grateful if the American entertainment industry could spend as much time perfecting a South African accent as they have with British and Russian and various other European accents. I have come to terms with the fact that, with the exception of Madiba, all South African characters will be mercenaries in some form or radicals of another… but that awful mix of accents that is used to portray South Africa seriously makes me cringe EVERY TIME!!!

  4. Ugh, my sentiments EXACTLY. And the backlash kids in the Diaspora have to deal with because of this foolishness is unbelievably unfair, especially considering all they needed to do was choose between doing a bit of research or just scrapping what they should undoubtedly have been able to anticipate as a colossal flop of a film.

    http://chaosanddreams.blogspot.co.uk

  5. The hotel shown in the trailer is the Palace of the Lost City at Sun City in South Africa, if anyone is interested.
    Adding a simple “South” to the “We’re going to Africa” would have been nice.

  6. Reblogged this on 80griots and commented:
    I agree with all of this but my response is, it is so because we as Africans have collectively failed in educating the world about our stories. Our independent and separate cultures and civilizations. Even to the very obvious fact that Africa is a continent, not a Country. Spot on rant btw, I got the chuckles.

    • It is not the job of ”we Africans” to educate anyone. You do not ask the person underneath a shoe to lift it up, especially if the owner of the shoe is rather complacent with having it there. We are privileged to live in a world where information is readily available at little to no cost, so there is really no excuse for this imperialist laziness.

      • That is a valid view. I just think we have no evidence that the responsibility of being truthful about the realities of those under the shoe will ever be taken on by the ones wearing the shoe. Over the course of history, it has been a consistent misrepresentation of those of us who are considered ‘other’ by imperialists. So we can pretend this will suddenly become their responsibility or we can decide to tell our own stories. I just happen to believe that if we want to right the ship, we’d have to be the frontline soldiers of telling our stories..

    • It nearly seems to me that the world just doesn’t want to be educated on what the real Africa is. My friends ask me allllllll the time about my Nigerian culture…. And ask again when it comes up!
      It’s their loss, not mine. I know who I am and where I come from…

  7. You have brillant writing skills. The flow with which you build up this article is amazing!
    As for the content, you’re super right, Africa is not a country, it’s a continent. I’m so stunned by how even foreigners heads of states can be talking about economic development and while stating dynamic countries, they’ll say “China, Brasil, India and Africa”.
    There are still a lot of things to change, not only in Hollywood, but globally, in the world. I am tired of the single story that westerners have of Africa.
    Btw keep writing! 🙂

    • Thank you, Brice!

      And you’re right: this misrepresentation is everywhere, and something needs to be done about it.

  8. Loved the article! Only issue with it: I find Adam Sandler to be hilarious. You can’t blame him for any of this; it’s all on the producer!

  9. Loved this. It made me really angry and also made me smile and giggle. I am done being cute with people that tell me it’s freaking comedy and that it does not matter. It might not have mattered if it was one movie; but now it’s a system that CHOOSES to be lazy when it comes to the African continent. Because I’m an international student, I tell people I’m Nigerian all the time. People from most countries hear it and remember it. But most Americans only hear that I’m African. They always respond with, “Oh, you’re African” and that’s all they ever remember. So I pointed this out to a few other international students from different African countries and asked them to tell me what they thought (the sociologist in me working overtime). Surprise!!! Turns out this actually happens a lot. So, to the people saying that it’s just comedy. All representation counts. No one would dare come out in this day and age and make a tasteless comedy about rape or domestic violence. So let’s cut the crap. Simply say you don’t care much about the issue and walk away. I’d honestly prefer that to trying to justify the misrepresentation.

  10. Adam Sandler is not only funny but extremely hilarious, come on! I agree with the rest, but it might just be part of the comical feature of the movie, which would make sense since Hollywood caters primarily to an American audience.

  11. Thank you so much! I have been meaning to have a proper rant about this. I was watching a show on TV sometime last week and the contestants were being introduced: This is Tom, he is from Denver, Colorado, USA. This is Jill her family is originally from Seville, Andalucia in Spain. This is Jack, he is from Liverpool, England. And this is Harry, he is from Africa. Would it have killed you to even find out what country in Africa?? I still can’t believe people this Africa is a country or just some place in the world where all the poor, sick and dying people are. I was listening to a preacher on YouTube one day and he had to audacity to say AIDS started from Nigeria and that 80% of the population is infected with full blown AIDS. I almost fell out of my seat. I am seriously tired of this.

  12. I see where you are coming from.. i really do… i tend to hulk out myself when people say “Africa” in that all encompassing and lazy way ( its a pet peeve)
    But… to be honest.. to expect anything approaching realism, balance and perspective in an Adam Sandler comedy is a bit much. Comedies by nature are exaggerations… hyper realities.
    Hell even Coming to America, ie the best film ever made, is rife with stereotypes about Africa, even though in this case they are arguably positive.
    So brilliant point, but perhaps not so brilliant argument.
    I loved this post though.. it cracked me up no end!

  13. Brilliant rant. You’ve pretty much summed up the awfulness that is Hollywood’s treatment of the African continent. Fifty four countries, and they’re hard pressed to name just one in a movie. People now honestly believe “Africa” is a single undivided landmass, populated solely by exotic animals, unmapped jungle and savanna, and a few cheerful, raggedy natives . Singing Africans indeed!!

  14. hollywood is extremely racist, that’s why when you watch the oscars the only black folks who win are the ones that fit the stereotypical roles (not saying they do bad jobs). ie. The Butler, 12 years a slave, hustle and flow, precious, monster’s ball, the help, the blind side, driving ms daisy…..blackface minstrel show were america’s money maker…hollywood really hasn’t strayed from the formula….with the blended trailer…every black man is bug eyed and dancing, it seems it was also a point to make every black person dark skinned as well. Oh well at least the f*ckin movie tanked at the box office I hear LOL.

  15. Brilliantly written. Hollywood is superb in perpetuating cultural stereotypes; as an Arab, I can identify similarly with your sentiments. As every black man seems to be “bug eyed and dancing”, so on and so forth, every Arab is depicted as a half-witted, ridiculously clothed, hardly understandable idiot with violent tendencies. The same stereotype of a terrorist that is supposed to “represent” over 25 countries through North Africa to East Asia. It’s a shame that mainstream films don’t exemplify the vast range of cultural differences and beauty that is found throughout the countries in the continent of Africa to the Western public. Americans (not all, but majority) have a tendency to do this with Hispanics as well; everything from Mexico as far south as Chile is seen as the “same”, yet each Latino country has incredible cultural differences and traditions that should all be celebrated. The same with Africa and the Middle East. I believe it is in the hands of emerging generations (us) to bring the extreme beauty and truths (the good and bad) of our countries and cultures to the table, and share the soul of our nations with the Western world. Combat ethnocentrism and ignorance. Advocate global/cultural awareness. The world is too beautiful and made up of too many (amazing) differences to allow ourselves and others to miss out on.

  16. “Who cares about humanizing Africans, who cares about highlighting some humanity in these Africans? Hollywood manages to humanize African animals more than it does its people, it’s fascinating to watch. No, I lie, it is downright pitiful and I’m so over Hollywood’s lazy storytelling when it comes to Africa. I mean, it’s bloody 2014. The depiction of this mythical country of Africa is tired, the horse is dead and the world needs you to stop flogging its cadaver. We’re collectively over it, ok?!”
    Great passage! You pretty much summed it very well. You’re a very talented writer with great insight. Keep it up. I had to follow your blog. 🙂

  17. Great post. I agree on certain aspects that you hit on the head, but we also have to understand that because of Sterling, and now Justin beiber’s racial jokes and comments there will be a witchhunt on White celebrities on racisim. Yes they’re ignorance is blatant, but lets be honsest here how many of your white friends crack black jokes, or even say horrible things about blacks NOT IN FRONT OF A LENS? i had to ask myself that question alot. But it is Comedy Good Post! Great discussion!

    • Bieber is cool, that was just bigotry plus he was only 15….Donald is a racist ,

      “racism exists only when one group holds a disproportionate share of wealth and power over another group then uses those resources to marginalize, exploit, exclude and subordinate the weaker group.” – Dr. Claude Anderson

      And sterling marginalized, excluded, and subordinated blacks with housing practices for years….but because he wassn’t yelling n*gger from a rooftop nobody cared….racists are a problem…bigots not so much.

      • Howdy Mr. Perfect. Bieber doesn’t have enough talent for you to waste your time defending. He’s doing a lot to assist in the stereotyping image of young black men. The money he’s made in the industry at such a young age suggests a cog in the machine and nothing “cool”. He’s been groomed and we can feel sorry for a child star, and about the usury, but ultimately his ignorance and selfishness the same racist monster. Just wait for him to grow up. You’ll see.

      • I have a theory on the Biebs…now his music isn’t great but I think he’s a good dude. He had a pretty humble begining struggling with his single mother, he builds schools in third world countries, and always seems genuwine to me….smoking weed, driving fast, and throwing parties isn’t enough to hate somebody……..I think what it is, is this…..the Bieber is super popular, especially among white america…but the problem is, he mostly hangs with people like lil wayne, cash money, mayweather’s team, etc….the media doesn’t want young white kids growing up thinking it’s cool to hang with people like that so you have the Justin smear campaign going on everyday all day…….his rock star antics are no different than anybody else (aerosmith, marky mark, korn, whoever)….and it seems like what he’s doing is pretty tame compared to them………remember eminem, they said he was a racist too, not to mention homophobe….but since he’s gotten away from Dre and Snoop and released more pop type music he’s been fine with the media. Racism is an institution in america and any white artist who reaches the masses will be smeared once become known for hanging with too many black people, especially hip hop stars…… that’s just my theory though.

      • I love how you wrote this and I do agree with your tracks, but he goes off rail in my book as the macrocosm of industry and what his music “cooperative” actually did and is doing to further kill music… and expression, tailoring it precisely to obtain the effect you have mentioned…no matter what charity work he does. Charity work is a requirement of his celebrity if he’s going to sustain it.
        I got a new blog going… and had written my Bieber-diatribe within it… and had planned to post it tomorrow but bumped it up today…if you’re interested in why I think he is a reckless choice… Feel free to disagree and or shred as openly as you want. Maybe I will change my mind… I doubt it, but I’d be open to your perspectives to be sure.
        http://katherinejlegry.wordpress.com

  18. Did you see and or approve of the South African Musical by Mbongeni Ngema, called Sarafina!, about the Soweto student riots, and that was first a theater play and then later adapted and made into a film featuring comedian/actress Whoopi Goldberg and actress Leleti Khumalo? (Ironic the vehicle is singing?) It was a very serious drama and well received.
    You’re right portrayals of Africa and the diversity of it’s peoples have been brain damaging to American audiences. Hollywood does that to preserve gaps in understanding and perpetuate reasons for arming various nations, which is big business while we go for oil, diamonds and gold. Then actors like George Clooney and Angelina Jolie emerge feeling very guilty about Hollywood feeding them, and they proceed to try and “save” all of Africa. It’s very lucrative business. Capitalism is interested more in entertainment and dumbing down. Education, knowledge, self-sufficiency, is far too liberating. Plus Hollywood doesn’t want to pay writers anymore. They don’t bother with too many original works and are simply adapting old stories. Stan Lee the comic book writer responsible for heroes like Captain America are taking over. There are very few black action heroes, despite Will Smith’s attempts to fill that role.
    Sandler and Barrymoore are essentially out of touch, which is too bad. They are both capable of deeper work.

    • I have seen Sarafina! (way more times than is normal), and loved. But that was a musical, so it made sense that they were singing.

      This movie (and many others) on the other hand… Smh.

    • I have seen Sarafina! (way more times than is normal), and loved. But that was a musical, so it made sense that they were singing.

      This movie (and many others) on the other hand… Smh.

  19. I agree with a lot of this. It seems as though they went to South Africa or Kenya. (I can tell from the touristy looking WASPs in the background). When WASP say they are going to Africa they mean they are going to congregate in high density tourist area with similar looking people. These people are usually to scared or feel to superior to have to interact with actual African blacks. In these areas Africans actually do sing and perform for you and the hosts of these tours do say absurd things like ” Are you ready to see the real Africa ?” I have seen this first hand in both South Africa and Kenya when I visited. For measly foreigner tips. I hate it all. WASPs need to do better but so do Africans

  20. I totally agree with you and we as Africans have very right to be put off pissed and what not. But why rant at their ignorance and also remember they do that to almost every other race… the Arabs are suicide bombers how they get a real Arab to act that I don’t know. Every French is about to seduce the next lady. Every italian is a mafia boss and cooks great tomato sauce. Every African has a thick nigerian accent and is super dark. Every Chinese is a computer hacker. Its tired I agree but I wouldn’t break a sweat hay.

    • It’s funny you should say that, because the one thing Hollywood has almost never been able to do, is get a proper Nigerian accent from any of the many, many tribes there are here. They almost always cast east or southern Africans in Nigerian parts (Nigeria is in West Africa) because they’re aware most people can’t tell the difference, and they don’t really care what actual Nigerians think, because we don’t affect the grosses of their movies in any serious way. District 9 was the worst offender in recent times, not a single actual Nigerian in sight. Ugh.

      • This is so true. The Nigerians and even Ghanians usually sound like East African’s or South African’s. They could have at least gotten someone with a thick Igbo accent or something.

  21. You’re a funny writer! This gave me a good laugh. I will say I have yet to see ‘Blended’ and I understand where you’re coming from but we shouldn’t wait around for Hollywood to make a big motion picture that properly captures Africa, neh. I’m looking forward to a future of films made by people from all over, especially African countries. Not just Steven Spielberg. They used the stereotypes they did to capture the type of humor they were going for. And actually Sun City (where it was filmed) is sorta like this minus the riding ostriches thing. Haha. But this type of humor is not funny to everyone…clearly. Just so we’re clear, you were saying you love Adam Sandler and he’s the funniest person alive, right? Just kidding.
    Movies like this could make some people want to go to ‘Africa’ to see if it’s actually like this. Yes, they’re misguided, yes, they’re incredibly uninformed and closed-minded but once they see for themselves they’ll get out of their little bubble.

  22. Right, i agree with this article…but have you all also noticed that as much as 98% of all comments agree with this article, some AFRICANs also refer to their home country as Africa in conversations….wonder why THEY wouldn’t also be specific. “…when i went to Africa” kmt! why not “….when i went to Nigeria; or Ghana; or Zambia etc”…..?

  23. This is a beautiful piece of art!! Bravo! No one in Africa even sounds like the stupid accents they put up. Most of the time, I think, it actually makes Africans sound stupid. I hate what americans have chosen to believe about Africa.

  24. I think they did say South Africa, which made me even more confused as to why Terry Crews was speaking with a Jamaican accent and wearing kente. What a mess that film was! I’m realty surprised Black Twitter didn’t give it the Alessandra Stanley treatment.

  25. Spot on. I’ve watched the trailer and not only do I not want to see the movie, I want to erase it from all recorded memory.
    To defend Adam Sandler, he’s done better than this. To defend the rest of the world, the movie got 14% on rotten tomatoes. A lower score would have been even better, but good to know 6 out of seven reviewers share your view, in some way or another.

  26. I did see movie and your rant is on point, a fair assesment, if you ask me. The aim of the producers of the movie was to perpetuate and shove down our throat a skewed racial stereotype, it’s simply passing an insult as comedy.

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