Considering Rocky/Creed, Our Most Successful Sports Film Franchise — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #149

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Your Pret­ty Much Pop hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Lawrence Ware, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Bak­er talk through the ups and downs of this nine-film fran­chise that start­ed with Rocky, the high­est gross­ing film of 1976 and win­ner of that year’s Acad­e­my Award for Best Pic­ture. We’re espe­cial­ly con­cerned with this year’s Creed III, direct­ed by its star Michael B. Jor­dan, which is the first entry in the fran­chise that’s entire­ly free of Sylvester Stal­lone.

How can such an appar­ent­ly sim­ple for­mu­la (start as an under­dog, train, and win at least a moral vic­to­ry) stay fresh? Why was there a robot in Rocky IV? Is there any ratio­nale for an extend­ed, con­tin­u­ing Rocky-verse? Does enjoy­ing these films involve approv­ing of box­ing as a sport, or the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of fic­tion­al sports heroes over real-life ones?

For var­i­ous arti­cles about things going on in the fran­chise, check out totalrocky.com. Sarahlyn men­tions the NPR pod­cast The Stat­ue.

Fol­low us @law_writes@sarahlynbruck@ixisnox@MarkLinsenmayer.

Hear more Pret­ty Much Pop. If you’re not sub­scribed to the pod­cast, you’re miss­ing lots of good episodes. Sup­port the show and hear bonus talk­ing for this and near­ly every oth­er episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

An Exhilarating ASL Performance of Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

Before Super Bowl LVII fades too far into the back­ground (being an Eagles fan, it can’t fade fast enough for me), it’s worth flag­ging this great ASL per­for­mance of Rihanna’s Super Bowl Half­time Show. Above, you can watch Justi­na Miles, a nurs­ing stu­dent at HBCU Bowie State Uni­ver­si­ty, become “the first female deaf per­former for the Super Bowl’s half­time show,” notes CNBC. Before this, Miles went viral when her ASL per­for­mance of Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You” explod­ed on Tik­Tok. As one com­menter not­ed on YouTube, this may be the best Super Bowl per­for­mance since Prince.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Watch Prince Per­form “Pur­ple Rain” in the Rain in His Tran­scen­dent Super Bowl Half-Time Show (2007)

“Alexan­der Hamil­ton” Per­formed with Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage

Hip Hop Hits Sung Won­der­ful­ly in Sign Lan­guage: Eminem’s “Lose Your­self,” Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yel­low” & More

How Inge­nious Sign Lan­guage Inter­preters Are Bring­ing Music to Life for the Deaf: Visu­al­iz­ing the Sound of Rhythm, Har­mo­ny & Melody

Neil deGrasse Tyson, High School Wrestling Team Captain, Once Invented a Physics-Based Wrestling Move

We know that Neil deGrasse Tyson was some­thing of a wun­derkind dur­ing his high school years. If you’re an OC reg­u­lar, you’ve read all about how Carl Sagan per­son­al­ly recruit­ed Tyson to study with him at Cor­nell. Deft­ly, polite­ly, the young Tyson declined and went to Har­vard.

There’s per­haps anoth­er side of the pre­co­cious Tyson you might not know as much about. The ath­let­ic side. While a stu­dent at The Bronx High School of Sci­ence, Tyson (class of 1976) wore bas­ket­ball sneak­ers belong­ing to the Knick­’s Walt “Clyde” Fra­zier. He ran an impres­sive 4:25 mile. And he cap­tained the school’s wrestling team, dur­ing which time he con­jured up a new-fan­gled wrestling move. In pro­fes­sion­al wrestling, Ric Flair had the dread­ed Fig­ure Four Leg Lock, and Jim­my Snu­ka, a dev­as­tat­ing Super­fly Splash. Tyson? He had the feared “Dou­ble Tidal Lock.” He explains and demon­strates the physics-based move in the video below, orig­i­nal­ly record­ed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Indi­anapo­lis.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Andy Warhol’s One Minute of Pro­fes­sion­al Wrestling Fame (1985)

The Ulti­mate War­rior, Pro­fes­sion­al Wrestler & Philoso­pher, Cre­at­ed a Glos­sary of World Philoso­phies

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

When Samuel Beck­ett Drove Young André the Giant to School

Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club: Behold Images from a 15th-Century Fighting Manual

Wel­come to Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club.

The first rule of Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club is: you do not talk about Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club.

The sec­ond rule of Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club!

Why?

The Pub­lic Domain Review’s man­ag­ing edi­tor, Hunter Dukes, wise­ly argues that it’s because we have so lit­tle to go on, beyond these star­tling images of “judi­cial duels” between men and women in Ger­man fenc­ing mas­ter Hans Tal­hof­fer’s illus­trat­ed 15th-cen­tu­ry “fight books.”

The male com­bat­ant, armed with a wood­en mace, starts out in a waist-deep hole.

The female, armed with a rock wrapped in a length of cloth, stands above, feet plant­ed to the ground.

Their match­ing uni­sex gar­ments wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Gala, and pro­vide for max­i­mum move­ment as evi­denced by the acro­bat­ic, and seri­ous­ly painful-look­ing paces Tal­hof­fer puts them through.

Dukes is not alone in won­der­ing what’s going on here, and he doesn’t mince words when call­ing bull­shit on those respon­si­ble for “hasti­ly researched arti­cles” eager­ly pro­nounc­ing them to be action shots of divorce-by-com­bat.

Such bru­tal meth­ods of for­mal uncou­pling had been ren­dered obso­lete cen­turies before Tal­hof­fer began work on his instruc­tion­al man­u­als. 

In a 1985 arti­cle in Source: Notes in the His­to­ry of Art, Alli­son Coud­ert,  a pro­fes­sor of Reli­gious Stud­ies at UC Davis, posits that Tal­hof­fer might have been draw­ing on the past in these pages:

I would sug­gest that no records of judi­cial duels between hus­bands and wives exists after 1200 because of both changes in the real­i­ty and the ide­al of what a woman could be and do. Before 1200, women may well have bat­tled their hus­bands. Women under­stood and defend­ed the impor­tance of their eco­nom­ic and admin­is­tra­tive roles in the house­hold. After the twelfth cen­tu­ry, how­ev­er, law, cus­tom and reli­gion made mar­i­tal duels all but unthink­able.

Why would Tal­hof­fer both­er includ­ing archa­ic mate­r­i­al if the focus of his Fecht­buchs was giv­ing less expe­ri­enced fight­ers con­crete infor­ma­tion for their bet­ter­ment?

We like the notion that he might have been seek­ing to inject his man­u­scripts with a bit of an erot­ic charge, but con­cede that schol­ars like Coud­ert, who have PhDs, research chops, and actu­al exper­tise in the sub­ject, are prob­a­bly warmer when reck­on­ing that he was just cov­er­ing his his­tor­i­cal bases.

For now, let us enjoy these images as art, and pos­si­ble sources of inspi­ra­tion for avant-garde cir­cus acts, Hal­loween cou­ples cos­tumes, and Valen­tines.

 

Explore more images from the 15th-cen­tu­ry Fecht­buchs of Hans Tal­hof­fer here and here.

via the Pub­lic Domain Review

Relat­ed Con­tent 

What It’s Like to Actu­al­ly Fight in Medieval Armor

How to Get Dressed & Fight in 14th Cen­tu­ry Armor: A Reen­act­ment

Watch Accu­rate Recre­ations of Medieval Ital­ian Longsword Fight­ing Tech­niques, All Based on a Man­u­script from 1404

The Medieval Mas­ter­piece, the Book of Kells, Is Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Pelé’s Great World Cup Goals (RIP)

Today, the soc­cer leg­end, Pelé, passed away at age 82. The most dom­i­nant play­er of his gen­er­a­tion, Pelé turned pro­fes­sion­al at age 15, won the World Cup at age 17 in 1958 (before win­ning two more World Cups in 1962 and 1970), and ulti­mate­ly scored 1,283 goals in 1,367 pro­fes­sion­al match­es, aver­ag­ing near­ly one goal per game. On the inter­na­tion­al stage, he scored 77 goals for Brazil, 12 of them in the World Cup.

The high­light reel above fea­tures the young Pelé’s goals in the 1958 World Cup. Sep­a­rate­ly, you can see his 5 great­est goals in the World Cup finals here. And, for good mea­sure, we’ve added more footage below that high­lights his mag­i­cal skills across his career.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Video: Bob Mar­ley Plays a Soc­cer Match in Brazil, 1980

Albert Camus’ Lessons Learned from Play­ing Goalie: “What I Know Most Sure­ly about Moral­i­ty and Oblig­a­tions, I Owe to Foot­ball”

Why Jorge Luis Borges Hat­ed Soc­cer: “Soc­cer is Pop­u­lar Because Stu­pid­i­ty is Pop­u­lar”

How Qatar Built Stadiums with Forced Labor

I will let Vox pref­ace the video above:

Ever since Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010, its treat­ment of migrant work­ers has made inter­na­tion­al head­lines. News sto­ries and human rights orga­ni­za­tions revealed migrant work­ers who built the sta­di­ums, hotels, and all the new infra­struc­ture required for the World Cup were being forced to work, not get­ting paid, unable to leave, and in some cas­es, dying.

At the heart of the abuse faced by migrant work­ers is the kafala sys­tem. A sys­tem preva­lent in Gulf states that ties work­ers to their spon­sors, it often gives spon­sors almost total con­trol of migrant work­ers’ employ­ment and immi­gra­tion sta­tus.

Due to all the scruti­ny Qatar has been under, some reforms have been put in place, but the kafala sys­tem is more than a law — it’s a prac­tice. And while these reforms exist on paper, human rights orga­ni­za­tions say there’s still a long way to go.

To under­stand how hun­dreds of thou­sands of migrant work­ers were stuck in an exploita­tive sys­tem while build­ing the sta­di­ums for the World Cup, watch our 10-minute video above.

To delve deep­er, it’s also worth lis­ten­ing to the New York Times’ recent pod­cast, Qatar’s Big Bet on the World Cup and read The Guardian arti­cle, 6,500 migrant work­ers have died in Qatar since World Cup award­ed.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Albert Camus’ Lessons Learned from Playing Goalie: “What I Know Most Surely about Morality and Obligations, I Owe to Football”

Here’s a vin­tage foot­ball [aka soc­cer] post in cel­e­bra­tion of the World Cup…

Albert Camus once said, “After many years in which the world has afford­ed me many expe­ri­ences, what I know most sure­ly in the long run about moral­i­ty and oblig­a­tions, I owe to foot­ball.”

He was refer­ring to his col­lege days when he played goalie for the Rac­ing Uni­ver­si­taire d’Al­ger (RUA) junior team. Camus was a decent play­er, though not the great play­er that leg­end lat­er made him out to be.

For Jim White, author of A Mat­ter of Life and Death: A His­to­ry of Foot­ball in 100 Quo­ta­tions, soc­cer per­haps taught Camus a few things about self­less­ness, coop­er­a­tion, brav­ery and resilience. That’s a sun­ny way of look­ing at things. But per­haps The Tele­graph gets at the deep­er, dark­er life lessons Camus took away from soc­cer:

[T]here is some­thing appro­pri­ate about a philoso­pher like Camus sta­tion­ing him­self between the sticks [that is, in goal]. It is a lone­ly call­ing, an indi­vid­ual iso­lat­ed with­in a team eth­ic, one who plays to dif­fer­ent con­straints. If his team scores, the keep­er knows it is noth­ing to do with him. If the oppo­si­tion score, how­ev­er, it is all his fault. Stand­ing sen­tinel in goal, Camus had plen­ty of time to reflect on the absur­dist nature of his posi­tion.

And per­haps the absur­dist nature of life itself…

Camus — who appears in the pic­ture up top, wear­ing the dark col­or jer­sey in the front row — con­tract­ed tuber­cu­lo­sis when he was only 18 years old. His lungs too dam­aged to con­tin­ue play­ing sports, the young man turned to phi­los­o­phy. When Camus moved from Alge­ria to France, he learned that phi­los­o­phy was a rough and tum­ble game too — some­thing his soc­cer days pre­pared him for. He once quipped, “I learned … that a ball nev­er arrives from the direc­tion you expect­ed it. That helped me in lat­er life, espe­cial­ly in main­land France, where nobody plays straight.”

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why Jorge Luis Borges Hat­ed Soc­cer: “Soc­cer is Pop­u­lar Because Stu­pid­i­ty is Pop­u­lar”

What is Albert Camus’ The Plague About? An Intro­duc­tion

Video: The Day Bob Mar­ley Played a Big Soc­cer Match in Brazil, 1980

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch Reads Albert Camus’ Touch­ing Thank You Let­ter to His Ele­men­tary School Teacher

Why Jorge Luis Borges Hated Soccer: “Soccer is Popular Because Stupidity is Popular”

Image by Grete Stern, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

I will admit it: I’m one of those oft-maligned non-sports peo­ple who becomes a foot­ball (okay, soc­cer) enthu­si­ast every four years, seduced by the col­or­ful pageantry, cos­mopoli­tan air, nos­tal­gia for a game I played as a kid, and an embar­rass­ing­ly sen­ti­men­tal pride in my home coun­try’s team. I don’t lose all my crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties, but I can’t help but love the World Cup even while rec­og­niz­ing the cor­rup­tion, deep­en­ing pover­ty and exploita­tion, and host of oth­er seri­ous sociopo­lit­i­cal issues sur­round­ing it. And as an Amer­i­can, it’s sim­ply much eas­i­er to put some dis­tance between the sport itself and the jin­go­is­tic big­otry and violence—“sentimental hooli­gan­ism,” to use Franklin Foer’s phrase—that very often attend the game in var­i­ous parts of the world.

In Argenti­na, as in many soc­cer-mad coun­tries with deep social divides, gang vio­lence is a rou­tine part of fut­bol, part of what Argen­tine writer Jorge Luis Borges termed a hor­ri­ble “idea of suprema­cy.” Borges found it impos­si­ble to sep­a­rate the fan cul­ture from the game itself, once declar­ing, “soc­cer is pop­u­lar because stu­pid­i­ty is pop­u­lar.” As Shaj Math­ew writes in The New Repub­lic, the author asso­ci­at­ed the mass mania of soc­cer fan­dom with the mass fer­vor of fas­cism or dog­mat­ic nation­al­ism. “Nation­al­ism,” he wrote, “only allows for affir­ma­tions, and every doc­trine that dis­cards doubt, nega­tion, is a form of fanati­cism and stu­pid­i­ty.” As Math­ews points out, nation­al soc­cer teams and stars do often become the tools of author­i­tar­i­an regimes that “take advan­tage of the bond that fans share with their nation­al teams to drum up pop­u­lar sup­port [….] This is what Borges feared—and resented—about the sport.”

There is cer­tain­ly a sense in which Borges’ hatred of soc­cer is also indica­tive of his well-known cul­tur­al elit­ism (despite his roman­ti­ciz­ing of low­er-class gau­cho life and the once-demi­monde tan­go). Out­side of the huge­ly expen­sive World Cup, the class dynam­ics of soc­cer fan­dom in most every coun­try but the U.S. are fair­ly uncom­pli­cat­ed. New Repub­lic edi­tor Foer summed it up suc­cinct­ly in How Soc­cer Explains the World: “In every oth­er part of the world, soccer’s soci­ol­o­gy varies lit­tle: it is the province of the work­ing class.” (The inver­sion of this soc­cer class divide in the U.S., Foer writes, explains Amer­i­cans’ dis­dain for the game in gen­er­al and for elit­ist soc­cer dilet­tantes in par­tic­u­lar, though those atti­tudes are rapid­ly chang­ing). If Borges had been a North, rather than South, Amer­i­can, I imag­ine he would have had sim­i­lar things to say about the NFL, NBA, NHL, or NASCAR.

Nonethe­less, being Jorge Luis Borges, the writer did not sim­ply lodge cranky com­plaints, how­ev­er polit­i­cal­ly astute, about the game. He wrote a spec­u­la­tive sto­ry about it with his close friend and some­time writ­ing part­ner Adol­fo Bioy Casares. In “Esse Est Per­cipi” (“to be is to be per­ceived”), we learn that soc­cer has “ceased to be a sport and entered the realm of spec­ta­cle,” writes Math­ews: “rep­re­sen­ta­tion of sport has replaced actu­al sport.” The phys­i­cal sta­di­ums crum­ble, while the games are per­formed by “a sin­gle man in a booth or by actors in jer­seys before the TV cam­eras.” An eas­i­ly duped pop­u­lace fol­lows “nonex­is­tent games on TV and the radio with­out ques­tion­ing a thing.”

The sto­ry effec­tive­ly illus­trates Borges’ cri­tique of soc­cer as an intrin­sic part of a mass cul­ture that, Math­ews says, “leaves itself open to dem­a­goguery and manip­u­la­tion.” Borges’ own snob­beries aside, his res­olute sus­pi­cion of mass media spec­ta­cle and the coopt­ing of pop­u­lar cul­ture by polit­i­cal forces seems to me still, as it was in his day, a healthy atti­tude. You can read the full sto­ry here, and an excel­lent crit­i­cal essay on Borges’ polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy here.  For those inter­est­ed in explor­ing Franklin Foer’s book, see How Soc­cer Explains the World: An Unlike­ly The­o­ry of Glob­al­iza­tion.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

via The New Repub­lic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Video: Bob Mar­ley Plays a Soc­cer Match in Brazil, 1980

Jorge Luis Borges’ 1967–8 Nor­ton Lec­tures On Poet­ry (And Every­thing Else Lit­er­ary)

Jorge Luis Borges Draws a Self-Por­trait After Going Blind

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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