Director: Brian Helgeland
Built to last: Chadwick Boseman
Impressed by his ability to be an Old Man: Harrison Ford
Cool moustache: Andrew Holland
I just realized she's not Kerry Washington: Nicole Beharie
Bulked up: Christopher Meloni
Poor Ralph Branca: Hamish Linklater
Did not realize he was in the movie: CJ Nitkowski
Really weird seeing him being an intense racist: Alan Tudyk
Charm: Lucas Black
Random role: John C. McGinley
What It's Good For:
-reminding people how ridiculous racism is
-the scene where the father and son are excited to see Pee Wee Reese then slur Jackie Robison
-the career of Chadwick Boseman
-reminding me Harrison Ford can actually method act
-a movie for young adults to see with their parents
-potentially encouraging black kids to pursue baseball rather than other sports
-has people who can actually throw a baseball throwing a baseball
-not a movie to really take kids to
-some critics have complained about the "hero worship"
-sort of simplistic
-Tudyk's lines could bother people
-supporting characters are a little bleh
We discussed with the 2011 Footloose how films are indicative of the culture they're made in. If you compare the dances in the original, 1984 Footloose movie with those in the 2011 version, you see how American teenage dance culture has progressed. It also says something about film culture and thus American culture that we show a "high school" girl (quoted because actress Julianne Hough was 22/23 when the movie came out) wearing booty shorts and shaking her ass and swaying her hips and gyrating and etc. etc. etc. We've reached a point in our culture where it's common for high school girls to do this, and not shocking to see it on film (though probably shocking to some, still).
As much as films can reflect culture, we also know films IMPACT culture. From a LiveScience article:
The film's key mistake was portraying great white sharks as vengeful predators that could remember specific human beings and go after them to settle a grudge.
"The movie certainly gave sharks too much of an ability to engage in revenge," Burgess said.
As a consequence of this depiction of sharks as monsters bent on massacring swimmers and boaters in "Jaws," dozens of shark fishing tournaments popped up. "A collective testosterone rush certainly swept through the East Coast of the U.S.," Burgess said. "It was good blue-collar fishing. You didn't have to have a fancy boat or gear — an average Joe could catch big fish, and there was no remorse, since there was this mindset that they were man-killers."
This proved to be part of a growing shark-hunting trend that dramatically reduced nearly all shark species over the following decades, Burgess said. In the waters off the U.S. eastern seaboard, populations of many species of sharks have dropped by 50 percent and some have fallen by as much as 90 percent.
"The movie helped initiate that decline by making it sexy to go catch sharks," Burgess said.
One inadvertent benefit linked with this calamitous drop in shark numbers was that scientists became aware of the need to learn more about sharks. This resulted in increased funding for shark research, improving our understanding of shark biology.
"Up until that point, there was virtually no funding for sharks, because they were not thought particularly interesting to humans, not being a major food fish — they were regularly regarded as a pest or nuisance that ate the baits or catches of commercial fishermen," Burgess said.
Now researchers know more about contributing factors to shark attacks, "so we're smarter when it comes to avoiding certain situations, and have minimized the number of attacks over the years," Burgess said. "Our medical capabilities are also far better than 100 years ago, so even when shark attacks occur, the consequences are not as severe — if bitten, the fatality rate was 40 to 50 percent in the early part of the 20th century, and now it's down to 10 percent."
"I think nowadays that there is a more enlightened view that sharks are part of the environment, and that you have to look out for sharks as you would for anything else in a wilderness experience," Burgess said.
"Still, there are some people who don't want to put their feet into the water as a result of seeing 'Jaws,'" he added.
Do I even have to mention Star War's impact on culture?
Atticus Finch, the father and lawyer from To Kill a Mockingbird, had such an affect on lawyers the Alabama State Bar put up a monument in his honor. Atticus Finch wasn't a real person.
Movies and books and TV shows and theater and music affect the conversations we have, the way we dress, the words we use, the jokes we make, the things we want in our life.
The question is: how often is this intentional?
Businesses certainly know how to take advantage of movies. You've heard of "product placement". Businesses hope viewers will take heed of the products in movies and will buy the product (or at least recognize the brand). "Oh, look, Tony Stark drives a sick Audi. I want a Tony Stark Audi!"
From a study by Williams et al in the Journal of Management and Marketing Research:
What is the effect of Tom Cruise chewing Hollywood gum or Agent 007 using a BMW? These are typical examples of product placement in movies. Higher involvement is required to view a movie than for viewing television. Television viewers can multi-task in the home setting thereby reducing their attention span and brand retention. Moviegoers actively choose the experience, movie, time, and cost. As such, they are much more receptive to the brand communication during the movie. (Panda, 2004) A majority of movie watchers have a positive attitude toward this form of marketing communication, feeling it is preferable to commercials shown on the screen before the movie. (d'Astous and Sequin, 1999) More frequent viewers and viewers who enjoy the movie more, pay attention to product placements in the movie (Argan, Velioglu, and Argan, 2007).
Shapiro (1993) has classified four types of product placements in movies: (1) provides only clear visibility of the product or brand being shown without verbal reference, for example, a bottle of Coca-Cola sitting on the counter; (2) used in a scene without verbal reference, for example, actor drinks a Coca-Cola but does not mention anything about it; (3) has a spoken reference, for example, "Boy, I'm thirsty for a Coke"; and (4) provides brand in use and is mentioned by a main star, for example, actor says "This Coke tastes so refreshing" while drinking the Coke. The star using and speaking about the brand in the film is assumed to have higher impact than the mere visual display of the brand. That is, meaningful stimuli become more integrated into a person's cognitive structure and are processed deeply and generate greater recall. (Panda, 2004) Yang and Roskos-Ewoldsen (2007) found that higher levels of placements influence recognition of the brand and attitudes toward the brand. However, single placement of the brand within the movie influenced implicit memory and the implicit choice task. To gain greater audience recognition, the brand needs to be used by the main character or needs to play a role in the unfolding story. That is, prominence and plot connection are important. Product placements may have a long-term effect on implicit memory and perceptions of familiarity. (Lehn and Bressoud, 2009)
How often is CONCEPT placement intentional?
"Do you mean...how often do people make propaganda movies?"
No. Not quite. I mean something more on the level with a product appearing in the movie. The product isn't the main character. Just like a concept isn't the main theme. "Go Russia! Fuck Germany!" is definitely the propaganistic point of Alexander Nevsky. But there's an inserted concept in the opening scene. Mongolians, the former enemy of Nevsky, show up in the beginning of the movie. A fight could break out. Nevsky avoids it. A few scenes later, he chooses to fight the invading Germans. What's the inserted concept? Our old enemies are old enemies--are the past, are no longer important. What is important? The current enemy. When did Alexander Nevsky come out? Oh, at the height of WWII? You mean when Russia had to team up with countries it had formally had conflict with in order to battle Germany? YOU DON'T SAY???!?!?!?!!?
This is why I wouldn't go so far as to call 42 a propaganda film. But I will say: I think it has ulterior motives.
From an ESPN article:
"The national release of 42 coincides with an initiative by commissioner Bud Selig to study the declining participation of blacks in baseball. If aspiring African-American ballplayers take the lessons of the film to heart in the same way that future big leaguer Ed Charles was affected watching Jackie Robinson in spring training in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the movie..."
This decline has been going on for some time.
From an article in the Shreveport Times:
While Robinson’s legacy is not in danger of being forgotten, a chasm has developed between the game he changed and those for whom he opened doors. Two days before today’s nationwide opening of the Robinson biopic “42,” a USA Today study revealed that 7.7 percent of players on Major League Baseball opening day rosters are black, the lowest percentage since the game achieved full integration.
“It disturbs me,” said former Grambling State coach Wilbert Ellis, a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “It disturbs me because I love the game.”
Major League Baseball’s numbers aren’t an anomaly. From youth leagues through high schools and colleges and into the professional ranks, black players are becoming fewer.
It is a trend a few decades in the making. In 1996, 19 percent of Major League Baseball players were black. In the 17 years since, MLB has seen almost a 60 percent drop in that category.
Ellis attributed it to the NBA’s meteoric rise in popularity, fueled first by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and taken to stratospheric heights by Michael Jordan.
In terms of discussing Jackie Robinson's crossing of the color barrier, it makes sense Helgeland would discuss the good and the bad. The bad: racism, death threats, conflict. The good: eradication of racism, inspiration for black community, Jackie becoming a hero.
Helgeland chose to show young Ed Charles encountering Robinson during spring training, how this inspired Charles to pursue baseball. This could be a small detail Helgeland included because it's nice. Just like having Rickey with his cigars, or the accent of Red Barber, or the scene where Pee Wee puts his arm around Robinson in Cincinnati, etc. etc. Authenticity was important to Helgeland.
But in the wake of the declining numbers of black ballplayers, I think it's entirely possible Helgeland, who is a baseball fan, planned on inserting a concept placement.
Will 42 inspire young blacks to pursue baseball rather than football or basketball?
I have no way of knowing this. I don't think it will hurt. Knowing what we know about film impact culture, I think 42 will make playing baseball seem "cooler" than what it currently is. I can definitely see it motivating some kids. How many though? 10? 100? 3,000? 16,000? If the movie where the only agent on this mission, I'd say the chance of influencing thousands is slim. You'd need kids to see the movie, then to know other kids playing baseball, then to pursue baseball into high school then college, for their families to have the money to afford the equipment, for the kid to have the opportunity to practice and become as good as others who have extra coaching, etc etc. etc.. But. The movie isn't alone. Major League Baseball itself is trying to provide opportunities for kids. They have two programs already. One: Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. Two: the Urban Youth Academies in Compton (CA), Houston, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, Cincinnati, and New Orleans. The RBI program provides various baseball leagues for children ages 5 to 18. While the Youth Academies provide after-school baseball coaching and training. Plus, MLB just began a initiative to help with the "representation and development of diversity".
People are, I think, misinterpreting the diversity initiative. You get comments like this
Selig isn't saying he wants to get the numbers back up to 20%. That he wants to force other players off the field to make room for people who are worse players but are ethnically diverse. He's saying there are reasons the number of black players have gone down and there's a possibility opportunity could have something to do with it.
Jackie Robinson didn't play for the Brooklyn Dodgers because the Dodgers wanted a publicity stunt. Robinson played because he was a fucking ballplayer. Larry Doby was signed by the Indians shortly thereafter. Why? Because Larry Doby could play baseball at a Major League level.
To me, this diversity program isn't to say "We need 100 blacks playing baseball, no matter their skill!" It's saying: "If there are good players out there who don't have the opportunity to play baseball, MLB wants to give them that chance."
42 could, very well, influence young blacks to take part of these MLB programs. Especially if the MLB is actively seeking those interested (rather than passively waiting for people to join).
We'll have seen reality inspire reality which then inspires a movie that then inspires reality. This stuff is so cool.
Did I Like It:
Yes. The trailer made me think the movie would be...a little more artistic or poetic in its shot selection. That trailing shot while Robinson rounds the bases after hitting a home run: so cool. I can't think of another shot where I thought that. And even the "trail Jackie around the bases" shot isn't continuous as I hoped it would be. Oh well. I'm being nitpicky.
I thought the film did a great job with Robinson and Rickey. I was really impressed with Ford. But the rest of the supporting characters somehow felt...too brief?
And I still have my problems of a film based on real people who are still alive not being represented properly.
In the movie, Reese tells Robinson, “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear Number 42, so they can’t tell us apart.”
But did Reese actually say it?
“Actually, it was Gene Hermanski [a Dodger outfielder] who said it,” says Helgeland, who wrote and directed “42,” opening Friday. “But I didn’t develop Gene as a character. I thought it was such a great line that I gave it to Pee Wee.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/winning-story-helps-42-director-brian-helgeland-article-1.1310868#ixzz2QawK3kCS
I find that a weird detail to change?
I think it's a cool movie for baseball fans to see. No way do I think it competes with Bull Durham or The Natural or Major League or Little Big League.
"Why didn't you put Field of Dreams in there?"
Uh...this is crazy. But.. I love baseball. I love movies. Yeeeeeettttt...I uh....haven't seen Field of Dreams. I should get on that.
I definitely recommend it over For Love of the Game (which is sort of a guilty pleasure movie of mine). I'd say it's in a good second-tier of baseball movies, right there with Moneyball. (Moneyball is arguably a "better" made movie, but all of its crazy inaccuracies and shielding of information leash and hinder it, as far as I'm concerned.
I like all the actors involved. I think they all do a great job.
Still can't get over Harrison Ford getting so into character.