Old Glory, New Story

Now, I haven't seen footage from the 1966 NCAA championship basketball game between Texas Western and Kentucky, but from what I do know of ball in that era, it was a pretty 2-dimensional, ground-bound game (ie. not much dunking, much less reverse dunking). I also don't think there was much in the way of behind-the-back or alley-oop passing off the glass during the college games of that era, either.

Yet all of the above appear in the TV commercial and official trailer for the movie Glory Road, which pays tribute to Texas Western's all-black starting five and is coming soon to a theatre near you, courtesy of the Walt Disney Company.

Did Disney feel they needed to "blackify" the basketball action scenes to make Glory Road more "authentic" and/or marketable? How can we juxtapose this with the movie's implicit message that that was then and today we live in a purportedly post-racial America?

What is the difference between creative license in an artistic work and historical revisionism? Does the answer to that question change given the racial overtones involved?

Jerry Bruckheimer, "Mr. Blockbuster" and Glory Road's producer, has been quoted on IMDB as saying: "We are in the transportation business. We transport audiences from one place to another."

In this case, he apparently neglects to mention that you have to ride at the back of the bus on the way there.


2 responses to Old Glory, New Story

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  1. Mark Yacoub says:

    "Did Disney feel they needed to "blackify" the basketball action scenes to make Glory Road more "authentic" and/or marketable?"

    I did not feel that the dunks and the alley-oops present in this movie were done to make the movie "blacker". Last year I had to read the book "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Basketball Game That Changed American Sports". It was a book explaining the details of that fateful game. You are right about the fact that the game was 2-dimensional. There was very little dunking or behind the back passes. Often times the author and even the players from the actual game that the author interviewed would say that the game was boring.

    Well how do you make a basketball game that is boring interesting? You add dunks, you add difficult passes. It has nothing to do with the fact that black people were playing the game so they had to produce in a street ball type of manner. It just so happens that dunks happen to be the most exciting part of the game. You can clearly see this in the popularity of the dunk competition during the all-star weekend.

    So no, in my opinion, the movie did not add dunks to try to make the movie appear more black. The dunks in the movie are the same dunks that players like Yao Ming or Nestorovic can perform. They are dunks done by tall players. Their skin colour doesn't matter. It's their size. The dunks are added to the movie to add a sense of excitement. As you mentioned, Jerry Bruckheimer was the producer of this movie. Most of his movies involve something blowing up. Well if he can't blow something up in this movie, he has to throw some kind of explosive action in it and he decided that dunks were sufficient.

  2. Elyse Laughton says:

    This movie, "Glory Road," can portray an intensified relationship that sport has with the media. Disney, one of the big corportations that have control over a lot of the media, is able to control what one sees. It may be that this game was boring, but to those living in that time period it was not. It was significant. This intensified game shown throughout the movie, with dunks and alley-oops can present what society now wants in sports. Watching a game from the past with different skill levels and a different speed of players may not be interesting to the present public. It is possible that the media (in this case Disney) wanted to increase their revenue for this movie. With increased action and intense scenes, including new skills, the population is more likely to watch this movie. Now I don't mind watching basketball but it is not something I do on a regular basis, but seeing the previews for this movie I wanted to go and see it, which is what I did. So although there is a significant race issue throughout the movie I don't believe that Disney tries to "blackify" the sport, but the company is instead interested in revenue and satisfying the enternainment consumer.