Eddie Murphy Giving Up The Oscar Gig? That Was A Stupid Career Move

What a waste.  Nothing but smack talk about putting together a humorous, sci-fi  “summit” film with other black comics and going back to stand-up for the past couple of weeks, and now this.

Eddie Murphy giving up MC’ing the Oscars ceremony because he was furious (reportedly) over how his pal Brett Ratner was treated after Ratner let fly some disgusting gay jokes (and got on Howard Stern blabbing profusely about his sexual exploits with actress Olivia Munn) was a dumb-ass career move.

When I read about Ratner’s downfall, I thought, well and good. Those jokes hinted at something darker, if not plain stupid, about Brett Ratner. But in retrospect, I also could see why Ratner chose Eddie Murphy, of all people, to host the Oscars. Promoting Tower Heist was one thing. Touting the film as Eddie’s comeback was yet another.

But really, both of these men have an ambivalent attitude towards homosexuals. Some Jewish straight guys like Ratner have adopted a very hypermasculinist attitude regarding homosexuality, leading them to make constant snide jokes or unfortunate offensive remarks about gays or questioning someone else’s masculinity–but of course, never inquiring about their own.

And then there has been the ongoing ambiguity regarding Eddie Murphy’s sexuality as well, confirmed for many when Murphy picked up that transvestite hooker in L.A. one night years ago. There had been rumors about what really went on at Bubble Hill, Eddie’s New Jersey home, since the 1980s. The more Eddie made gay jokes during the time that he did stand-up, the more people wondered what the deal actually was with him. I’ve read that some guys on the Down Low insist they’re still straight even after numerous affairs–short or long–with men as well as with women, and it could be that Eddie thinks of himself in this way. If what I write has a scintilla of truth, then both Ratner and Eddie deserve each other as friends. They’re both in denial.

I don’t know whether Eddie would have let fly one or two gay jokes while MC’ing the Oscars. I would think, though, that a smart guy wouldn’t try to mess up a second wind or a comeback (especially with a house full of  gay and gay-friendly people).  However, I don’t think that giving up an opportunity like this for a bromance wins Eddie any points in Hollywood for integrity.  Instead, he looks like a class idiot divo unwilling to get along.   And he had been working towards credibility beyond being an ass.

The credibility turnaround – in grownups’ eyes – began with a strong supporting performance in Dreamgirls, which earned him an Oscar nomination in 2006, while Ratner’s Tower Heist placed him in front of a sizable blockbuster audience. The Oscar hosting gig looked set to cement all this and, if he made a success of it, allow him to latch on to the Hollywood-fixture status enjoyed by the likes of Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin.

So Murphy appears to have given up quite a bit even if – as we’re being honest here – he’s never seemed particularly good at strategic thinking in his career. His relationship with Ratner has only extended to this one film so far, as well as a forthcoming big screen version of Hong Kong Phooey, which Ratner is producing. They appear to have become solid friends though – before the Oscar scandal hit, Ratner said: “I really love working with him. To me, he’s my hero.”

Umph.  And apparently Eddie thinks of Ratner as a muse in the guise of his being a “creative partner.”

I think Ratner would have understood that it was just business if Eddie had gone ahead without him, and worked with Brian Grazer.  It was his favor to the comedian to move forward and get himself back on track.  To me, I think Eddie Murphy has blown this opportunity to get better exposure, work and roles.  As the Guardian article states, Eddie has never been good at strategic thinking. He’s Eddie Murphy and that should suffice.  Unfortunately, that’s not enough these days, especially when there are new generations who were mere babies when Eddie did The Nutty Professor.

I have yet to see Tower Heist, but in previews, what is dismaying to me is that Eddie’s make-up makes his face look darker than what it actually is and more clownish.  I just wonder how much of this is an accident.  Sadly, however, the film has not lived up to blockbuster predictions, with Puss in Boots taking the number one spot two weeks in a row.

Some entertainment pundits are saying that there was no way that Eddie Murphy could have carried it off in the first place, that he did not possess the coolness and patience to host the Oscars, and they are breathing a sign of relief.  I doubt that Eddie was that ill-equipped.  Why couldn’t Eddie work with Brian Grazer, the other Tower Heist producer?  They were only at the beginning of working through the program with Ratner’s production group.  Perhaps this observation could be a reason why:

[…D]uring interviews in recent weeks, Murphy commented on the job, specifically what he wouldn’t do. He wasn’t going to do the same song and dance routine that hosts had done in recent years. This could have been read two ways: either he was going to phone it in or he was going to do the Oscars his way and not let formula rule.

What isn’t said is that Grazer may have had other white-bread ideas about how (and even who) he wanted to host the show (despite his saying that he hoped Eddie would stay), and that is probably why Eddie left.  Brian Grazer has been aligned with more middle-of-the-road elements in Hollywood like Ron Howard, although he is also known as the producer of Eminem’s 8 Mile. Eddie, I think, should have taken the high road and stayed on point.   That is, he would do this show and work it in order to move his career forward regardless of any feelings about Ratner or how he was treated.

The immediate top vote getters to take the host spot are runaway favorite Billy Crystal, who’s made no secret of the fact that he wanted back on the Oscar show; Hugh Jackman, always likeable and always handsome; and Neil Patrick Harris, gay, a trooper and as likeable.  Today, Barbara Walters put up an ambushed and embarrassed Whoopi Goldberg on The View as a likely host, but Whoopi replied that she would only do it with Billy Crystal.  Whoopi is also on that vote getter list, but she’s farther down.  She’s been there and done that, and from the look on her face, she doesn’t want to do it again, or alone.

This episode rates with Eddie’s abrupt departure from the audience a few years back when he did not win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Dreamgirls.  I can see that he didn’t want to hear from the likes of Clint Eastwood and Beyoncé telling him that there will be other roles and other award nominations, but it looks bad nonetheless to pull out of the biggest awards show of the year in the film industry before it has even ended.  The result is that Eddie’s may have torpedoed his own comeback in midswing.  Oh, I have no doubt that bad boy Ratner is going to recover from this mess, and will make more films, but Eddie?  I don’t think so; at least, not right now.  The stars are way out of alignment, and it is all his own doing, not theirs.

~ by blksista on November 10, 2011.

%d bloggers like this: