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:
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!
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.
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.
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.