March 11, 2008

Guilty Pleasure Film: The Golden Child

I have a secret. I love The Golden Child. Say what you want about the acting, the plot, or the production values. It won't change the fact that this movie is a classic. Do you want to know why? Of course you do. You're an intelligent human being, and you want to know why you should care about some movie Eddie Murphy made in the 80s.

Let me get this out of the way: I'm a fantasy movie buff. If there's magic or dragons or elves and that sort of stuff in a movie, I'll watch it at least once even if it's terrible. Maybe twice to make sure I don't like it. I've sometimes paid full price to see horrendous movies (say, Bloodrayne or Dragon Wars) simply because they're in the fantasy genre. I even watch Red Sonja whenever it comes on, and I think I'm one of the few Black people who knew of Brigette Nielson before she met Flava Flav.

I have a soft spot for The Golden Child because it breaks longstanding patterns in fantasy movies. What other Hollywood movie can you name in which the hero is Black, Jesus is Asian, and the Devil is a White man?

Take a few minutes to Google it. Seriously, go ahead and look it up.

Welcome back.

First of all, let's look at the protagonist, Chandler Jarrell. First of all, he's actually the main character. This is rare by itself. Most of the time Black characters are mere functionaries in a White person's story. They're only important insofar as they show off how heroic the White protagonist is or to help said White person find himself. Chandler Jarrell is nobody's Magic Negro. He has no weird powers or special insights. We don't even know if he can dance (though he tries to rap). All he has are guts, smarts, and conscience. But it is his story that is being told, his transformation we are witnessing. To make matters even more interesting, Chandler Jarrell's transformation clearly follows the archetypal heroic journey. It's straight out of Joseph Campbell.

Too bad the trend didn't catch on.

You know what? We should find someone to produce a sequel. Let's call it The Platinum Child. In this movie, D.L. Hughley or Katt Williams will try to save a Native American baby from being sacrificed to summon a demon who looks a lot like our current President.

Then again, that would probably be closer to reality TV, wouldn't it?