Image: Netflix

Why Netflix’s “Dolemite” Is the Feel-Good Story About Original Influencers

Ezinne Ukoha
Nov 7 · 6 min read

Minor spoilers

Truth be told, I never heard about the late and great Rudy Ray Moore or his dynamite of a persona, “Dolemite” that he famously created after hearing the urban legend as told by a vibrant storyteller, who frequented the record store where Moore worked at the time.

But I’m mighty psyched and appreciative for the grand introduction to the gregarious all-a-round entertainer, who appropriately fits the attributes of the original influencer.

It makes perfect sense that one of the beloved comedy icons of our time would immerse himself in the assignment of authentically embodying the legendary soulfulness of a middle-aged, struggling Black artist, who turns his wheel of misfortune into the flawless demonstration of how dreams come true, when your belief system never leads you astray.

Eddie Murphy has always been around, even when he wasn’t around in the same way that matched the heydays of his superstardom, that skyrocketed with lucrative movie franchises, and the comedic genius that birthed the gems residing in the vault of pop culture.

But in the last few years, the Saturday Night Live alum, has maintained a lower profile with sporadic projects that didn’t illicit the familiar level of recognition and adulation. And so it’s exciting to witness his epic return to the blinding spotlight, as Murphy tackles his first starring role in four years, that exalts the tragically almost-extinct depiction of the classic hustle.

Social media has bequeathed the rose-colored lenses that remain securely fastened to impossible dreams that are possible with a few clicks and the authoritativeness that leads to immediate gratification via the followers who made you.

As a proud but scarred Gen-Xer, I scarily recall the old-fashioned way of applying for jobs, or sending editorial pitches that would take months to resolve. It was all due to the laborious methods of networking, that grossly lacked the miraculous accessibility and efficiency, that we are presently managing with damaging obsessiveness.

My twenties were basically about sprinting through hurdles, and getting nowhere.

The most vital years of my young adulthood, were lost to the crippling setbacks that could’ve been easily reversed to some degree, if I had been conceived in 1993.

The hustle was real in the nineties and early aughts.

The blood, sweat and tears, weren’t fabricated for ratings because the road blocks were concretely assembled to stumble those of us who didn’t have the badge of an Ivy Leaguer, and the luck of well-positioned mentors to assist in the flawless construction of pre-ordained careers.

The limitations that I encountered as a young, inexperienced writer, who tried to make the very best of situations beyond her control, readily schooled me about the invaluableness of consistent hard work. I understood that it would require the missing compensation that many who shared my sentiment willingly gave up, in order to pay those very expensive dues.

It wasn’t until my mid-to-late thirties that things finally got into formation, as it pertained to be my editorial pursuits, and the much-needed exposure that was tragically elusive when I needed it the most.

The extra long ride to the top has hit major snags and caused the brief derailment that keeps you humble and hopeful for what’s to come. Despite numerous disappointments and the increasing odds, there’s the instinctual commitment that’s borne from the practiced self-realization that takes pride in your lifesaving work ethic.

As we bid adieu to another historical decade, one of the many toxic themes that will follow into the next frontier will be the formidable influence of very influential, influencers, who demonstratively endorse the validity of “over-night success,” that gratifyingly demolishes the ancient route of “making it” with the click-worthy middle finger to toiling away with no guarantees.

It’s quite difficult to confidently rely on a healthy stream of self-assuredness as an early mid-lifer, who is cruelly surrounded by younger and brighter minds, excelling at a maddening rate that surpasses anything you could’ve imagined when you’re were at that stage.

And it’s exactly that brand of emphatic optimism by an active dreamer, who obstinately refuses to be overshadowed and distracted by narratives falsely assuming my defeat, that inevitably elevates the organically personalized response to the resonated identifiers in Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name.

The main takeaways from the hilariously delightful biopic, that also features Mike Epps, Keegan-Michael Key, the ever-sublime Tituss Burgess, and the worthiness of Broadway actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph, with the notable addition of Wesley Snipes — are all delivered in the inspirational tones that prove why it’s never too late to give it another try.

These are the lessons of the original influencers, who weren’t outfitted with army of worshipers, who are employed to supply the number of “likes” that are necessary for brand sponsorships. These ambitious partnerships fuel the daily curation of million-dollar content to sustain the demanding itinerary of #livingyourverybestlife.

Eddie Murphy elegantly portrays the colorful rambunctiousness of Rudy Ray Moore, a brilliant performer who pushed the envelope with his comical brashness. Moore simply refused to bow out in shame and disillusionment when his middle-aged years during the seventies, kept him down on his luck; as he expertly juggled multiple gigs.

In this volatile age of acute deadliness on a global scale, coupled with the hourly updates that frighten and assault, there’s really not enough pure goodness to counteract the intoxication from unhealthy byproducts of a terminally ill landscape of dysfunction.

It’s also intimidatingly tasking to constantly reject the insurmountable evidence that threatens to seduce away unrealized dreams, that can’t be converted to award-winning soundbites for viral videos with special effects.

Moore had his ears and eyes and wide open for prime absorption. He knew he had to become “Dolemite” to service the mass consumption that he faithfully catered. And once he internalized the theatrical embodiments of that character, the creative vibes alighted with the familiar sensation that never fails to show up in rare form.

Murphy captures the defiant sense of urgency and sheer determination that accompanied Moore’s larger-than-life vision, that was enhanced by the company of like-minded originators, who were ready to force the system to play by the only rules that apply when it comes to timed manifestation.

It felt so damn good to surrender to the epitome of a “feel-good movie,” that contains the affecting contribution of a cohesive cast, dutifully delivering tangible offerings that are noteworthy, without taking anything away from the main attraction.

The modest beginning, eventful middle and triumphant end, were all vital in their assembly.

And the doses of euphoria that swelled, while watching the birthing and rearing of Dolemite, the futuristic project that Moore and his crew concocted with the prayer that it would be the initiator of what came to be known as Blaxploitation films — was the preferred reaction to revaluate our humanness.

The world of robots and ruthless algorithms have presented the frigidity of relations, that’s been normalized by our adherence to the formulated “green screen,” that subs as the distorted reality of why fame and fortune can’t wait for the zigzag patterns of life’s unpredictability.

As far as I’m concerned, Dolemite Is My Name showcases Eddie Murphy at his absolute best, at time in his life when it’s paramount for this legendary comedian to effortlessly prove his relevance in a rapidly evolving culture that he helped shape.

That’s why it was poignant to observe the gorgeous integration of two masterminds, from the past and present, who both share similarly outrageous personas that were destined for unification.

This prize is for the sake of nostalgic homage to the real influencers, who weren’t trending for clicks, because it was about laying down the foundation for future dreamers who won’t quit.

Rudy Ray Moore was a hustler to the core, and as one of the originators, who never threw in the towel, even when he gave all he had to no avail, there’s a deep satisfaction and profound respect that settles when you’re treated to the play by play of how taking that risk with honest sacrifice — will definitely pay off.

Moore continued to be the artist of his dreams until his death in 2008, and by then he had endearingly garnered the title of “Godfather of Rap,” thanks to his catchy musical recordings that set the tone for what was to come.

As the revered pioneer of his time, who exhibited the key elements of a faithful artist, Moore was the influencer, young influencers today would categorize as the generation that “ok boomer” was coined for.

But in this polarizing hellhole, that has trained wearied minds to foully denounce the audacity of individualism, with the detrimental disposition that can’t fathom the distinctions that raised originators, who are still winning — the magic of Dolemite’s ascension puts the ruling class of influencers to shame.

Eddie Murphy & Co., did what they needed to do for mankind in these very troubling and brutish times, and for those of us who know what’s up, it’s time to take our positions.

Action!

Ezinne Ukoha

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say, so bear with me. https://medium.com/membership

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