Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Whatzupwitu" -- a music video retrospective

[I wrote this about a month ago, but delayed it because of Michael Jackson's death and the media response. It appears here unaltered.]

Eddie Murphy
. Once the crown prince of standup, once a box office boon, once a successful recording artist. In a nutshell, another casualty of the 80's-90's transition. The same transition that swallowed whole the careers of stage and screen. Hair metal, Members Only jackets, Atari, California Raisins, Pee-Wee Herman, side ponytails and Eddie Murphy all became (tragic) statistics.

Teaming up with Michael Jackson in the early nineties shouldn't be a bad idea; just like teaming up with Rick James in '85. But for Eddie Murphy, the career tailspin had already begun. Yes, he's still making movies, but seriously: Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn, Holy Man, Pluto Nash, The Haunted Mansion, Norbit, Meet Dave. Have any of you actually seen one of those in the theaters?

The first grim error of the video is the fact that those New Jack Groove sunglasses are just annoying. I don't know if you were self-aware back in that time, but honesty muscle shirts were not that cool then. But, black denim was. He totally reminds me of my junior high geometry teacher, wife-beater or not. The green screen/blue screen was still pretty damn high tech for those days. I mean, this came out just before Jurassic Park. Michael Jackson is probably the best thing to happen to this video. He brings a comic effect, startingly. He's remarkably loose. And, no choirboy jokes!

I guess the concept is that happiness is a state of mind. I get this because Eddie starts out in grayscale, and then MJ comes in and just brightens everything up. Then the kids come in and start la-la-la-ing.

Video facts
Length: 3:26
Director: Wayne Isham
Date: April 1993
Est. Cost: Unknown

I think it's the hearts and peace signs that put this puppy over the edge... In the words of John Stewart (while on the show that permanently retired this video from the MTV airwaves, 25 Lame): "what's up with THAT?"


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1 comment:

  1. Just noticed this writer beat me to the punch on this by about 5 months: