Jaap opened up the class with a clip of Rocky, and postulated to the class that there is a racial subtext to the fact that Rocky’s ultimate adversary, Apollo is black and clearly labelled as the antagonist while Rocky is white and is who the audience naturally sides with. Some people in class agreed. Others were a little more skeptical.
One person astutely pointed out that boxing is a sport that is often dominated by the working class of it’s time, be it the Irish, Black, and now Hispanic races. Said person argued that at the time of Rocky’s release, the boxing world was dominated mostly by Black athletes and the choice of having Apollo be black was more likely to be a reflective of the time, rather than racist.
Following a hilarious clip of Eddie Murphy’s standup about Italian’s seeing Rocky, we were given an excellent presentation of the racial undertones of Batman. The presentation detailed how, had certain batman villains been black rather than white, it would have been so blatantly racist that people would have spoken up. The Joker’s costume for example, is in clear resemblance of a ghetto pimp suit.
After another informational presentation about black exploitation in film and an exposition on the meaning behind sweetback, we watched the intro scene of Malcolm X. Jaap informed the class that although well put-together, many critics deemed the introductory scene as unnecessary and unrelated to the rest of the movie. The class however, unanimously agreed that the scene very much added to the rich-ness of Malcolm X’s character, and seeing him in his environment when he was younger made him more relatable as a genuine human being.