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No Laughing Matter

August 02, 1992

I can't help but wonder how Murphy might feel if the tables were turned (all too frequently they have been) and a similar kind of reference were made in a film that tended to identify all blacks by referring to the violent act of an individual.

Imagine a white police officer in "Lethal Weapon 3" or "Unlawful Entry" turning to his partner and, in the guise of a gang member, mumbling in street jive and translating for his partner: "That means I'm sorry I shot your 3-year-old daughter, but I was aiming at a rival gang member." Would Murphy be outraged, or would he see this as a "forum to explore real-life issues in a less-threatening environment"?

"Boomerang" screenwriter Barry Blaustein, who says the director added the line to his script, notes that the line "makes light of a serious situation, without shedding any light on it. It exploits it." Perhaps Murphy needs to consider the notion that getting a laugh at the expense of racial defamation might not be the best formula for living "together in peace."

CARL WYANT

Los Angeles

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