In the wake of Meet Dave‘s still-born arrival, a very well written manifesto by Defamer’s Stu Van Airsdale (unless someone else wrote it) that doesn’t call for Murphy’s retirement (like the Vulture guys have suggested) or going back to stand-up or moving to Myanmar, but an announcement that the man absolutely and incontestably doesn’t matter to anyone. The piece is called “Why You Don’t Care About Eddie Murphy.”
“More than any recent bust by Mike Myers or Jim Carrey, Meet Dave‘s disastrous showing owes less to Murphy’s presence than to 20th Century Fox’s miscalculation of what that presence means.
“This is important. The half of the so-called marketing quadrants that made Norbit a hit — men and women under 25 — weren’t there to see Eddie Murphy. They were there for the Trick — the concept, the execution, the ease of it all, however crude, stupid and condescending. Basically, they were there for the movie part of it. They weren’t yet born when Murphy was Murphy; they didn’t know any mighty had fallen, nor from how far up.
“Fox counted on that perspective, however, in foisting ‘Eddie Murphy in Eddie Murphy in Meet Dave‘ — even if Murphy was too far gone for our liking, he had proven reliable enough for a few of the studio’s recent family romps. Right? Doctor Doolittle? Right? Maybe our kids would dig it, while we barely tolerated it for their sake, and, by summer dog-days extension, for our own.
“Except ‘our’ kids don’t care. They’ve got better things to do. And we don’t care that they don’t care. And we don’t care that the millions of others who don’t care (their numbers reflect indirectly in Meet Dave’s box-office trough) don’t care either.
“All we feel is sort of a relief at no longer having to pretend to care — no more calling for Murphy’s head or lamenting his choices. That it should happen to such a household name reinforces only its novelty, not its unlikelihood; actors are forgotten and disused all the time. Eddie Murphy’s indelibility is his only entitlement; he’s achieved that much, Oscar losses and all.
“His value, though? His very place? Gone. And this is us, shrugging.”