Module 1: Introduction to Sport and Film
I. History of Hollywood
a. Began with silent era,
b. then moved toward classical Hollywood era (19271963). Often referred to as the Golden age of Hollywood. Had continuity editing camera and sound recording isn’t really manipulated.
c. New Hollywood post Classical films from mid60s to 80s. ex: Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate. Young filmmakers of this time began to see how you could use film, camera angles, lighting and music to change the audience’s perception of reality and how people engaged with reality. Also, this was the time studios began being more important in the industry.
d. Contemporary Era 80s to present. Movies that use a lot of special effects i. Blockbuster films high production value. A notable cast. A lot of money spent marketing the films. A successful blockbuster attracted a large
audience. Worked in reverse Asked how much can we make from this film, then worked to produce it with that figure in mind.
ii. Independent films If you want to learn more check out What is genomics?
II. Film Theory
a. An academic discipline premised on numerous interpretive frameworks that can be used to understand cinema in all its aesthetical, social, cultural, and psychological dimensions.
b. Films can project views of our nation. Promotes certain ideas and tells certain stories from specific perspectives
c. Broken down and follows the trend of the film industry itself
i. Classical Film Theory 19151960: medium of imperialism. Was an important part of propaganda
ii. Modern Film Theory 19451972: film reflects the director’s creative vision (auteurism). Film was beginning to be used to create certain
We also discuss several other topics like What is metaphysics?
meanings. Structuralism (the school of thought based on the notion that our lives are largely determined by outside forces, resulting from
institutional or structural norms) began to appear. So does semiology study of signs. How things in film could promote certain ideology.
iii. Contemporary Film Theory 1968present
III. Film Industry
a. By 2010, 6 companies controlled the industry. Sony, News Corp, Disney NBCUniversal, etc.
b. Oligarchyrefers to a market condition in which there are a limited number of producers. Not a lot of room for innovation or independent companies to come into the formula. By controlling industry, the companies dictate what ideas are coming through, so the ideas tend to always be the same.
IV. Film as Pedagogy
a. Film serves as a public pedagogy, or a way to influence a mass audience’s way of thinking about a certain subject.
V. The Sport Film
a. Sports films are popular because they are not political. They are the means through which certain ideals are formed and popularized. Ex: Friday Night Lights of 2004 which shows a West Texan city that is obsessed with football. Don't forget about the age old question of Describe the characteristics of risk structure of interest rate.
b. In 1920s, athletes were incorporated into films. Movies like Golden Boy question capitalism. Ronald Regan starred in a lot of these movies
c. Themes began emerging: sacrifice for the nation, idea of meritocracy (work hard and it pays off)
d. Black people and Native American people were included Jackie Robinson Story e. Film especially at the beginning of cold war used as a way to both show ideals and challenge some of society’s ideas
f. With women’s movement and civil rights movement, we start to see more women and minorities in the late 20th century. Don't forget about the age old question of What are the five basic arthistorical methodologies?
i. Sports are sometimes seen as a way to break racial barriers.
ii. But many sports films focus on white America skating, surfing, tennis, etc.
g. Nostalgia for a past America is also evident in sports films
VI. Sport and Films
a. There is a conversation between sport film and American life. And this reinforces dominate ideas about American society.
b. Filmic Elements As we watch these films, we should think about certain things i. Aesthetics nature and expression of beauty.
1. Movement of the subjects, colors, placement of lighting, sound
ii. Camera Shots
1. Extreme wide establishes location. Captures landscape.
2. Wide shotgive viewer more specific setting.
3. Medium shot complete view of characters. Take in the costumes
and contrast characters from one another If you want to learn more check out What is the best adventure race?
4. Medium close up social shot. Can’t see full bodywaist up
5. Close upjust one character’s face. Enables viewer to see emotions. Personal shot
6. Extreme close up one part of characters face is being emphasized Used in 1970s/80s horror films
iii. Musicoften used to elicit different emotions from the audience. The songs typically are triumphant. Build and build. If you want to learn more check out How can you recognize the growth of the sports industry?
iv. The story
1. Whose story is being told? Whose is not being told?
2. Usually a case of working hard to achieve (individual) dreams in
the current system, rather than changing the system
3. But offers transcendental storyline athlete/team can overcome all
odds to achieve victory, both in sport and in a bigger sense
v. The Bodies
1. What bodies are on display? How are bodies gendered, racialized
2. Pay attention to how the body is performing.
3. The body in film is key to the narrative and to the subject matter—
it is vulnerable, it conquers, it is often the object through which the
story is told.
a. The concept of realism is ultimately rooted in the Greek conception mimesis, or imitation.
b. We see the same themes storylines and music. Is there a Generic formula for all films?
Module 2: Identities and Ideologies
I. Ideology & Sport Film
a. Ideology is a set of conscious/unconscious ideas that influence way we see and interpret world
i. It’s comprehensive system of thought that is majority defined by the most dominant class in society and disseminated to the public through certain
mediums like sport films
ii. When major sporting events are put into film: we see only a part of what happened. Its impossible to show everything that went on.
1. What’s being included (and excluded) is important
2. What characters are being privileged? What characters are being
b. IdentityA person’s conception and expression of their individuality or group affiliations
i. Helps people understand who they are and why they do what they do
ii. Can often lead to stereotyping and divides between people
c. How do we learn about identity? Answer: Pop culture.
i. Some critics say film adopts a utopian entertainment” or that sport film don’t really look at identity. They treat it apolitically b/c it makes it less controversial. Universal appeal.
II. Sport, Film and History
a. b/c they draw on real contests, sport films have often claimed historical status b. In most films, there is PROGRESS (things have gotten or are getting better) Deterring from collectivity solidarity and putting success on individual
c. Sport movies frame history as represented by individual desires, goals and dramas of main characters.
d. Telescopingdon’t actual think about the society the person is having to overcome just focus on the individual’s triumph. This blurs the outside world e. Myth of meritocracy everyone can’t succeed.
f. Sports movies fit into “traditional American myth” champions the promise that identity will come through individual achievement UTOPIAN
a. Realists believe that film is a truthful representation of everyday life
b. Decontextualized celebrations of the achievements of star athletes
c. Many sports movies are based on real events. This often leads us to think that filmic representations are a true representation of this story. When this happens films become a tool for recreating history in line with the director’s politics, to suit their ends (these ends may not be overtly sinister, they could be simply to make money and therefore produce a form of utopian entertainment).
d. Think about what’s going on in society when these films were made.
IV. Critically Reading Films
a. Read film in a way that we can deconstruct dominant meaning
b. Functionalism interprets each part of society by how it contributes to an overall stable society. Views sports films as inherently good for society it encourages people to be good citizens
i. But tends to ignore cultural and economical functions that the athlete is created out of
c. Feminism aims to understand gender inequality. Examines women’s social roles, experience, interests, and feminist politics
i. Patriarchy: a social system in which males are the primary authority
figures, determine the mode of social organization, and occupy the
positions of political leadership
d. Critical Theory Approach concerned with liberating human being from circumstances that enslave them. Ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation
i. For example, sport film may be viewed as promoting ideologies such as meritocracy which leads people to put faith in particular economic and
political structures or systems which are in fact oppressing them
V. Cultural identities: Identities grounded in constructs of race, gender, social class, nationalism, regionalism, ability, etc.
Module 3: Filmic Representations of Popular Nationalism
Sport plays a role in promoting nationalistic ideals. How is the nation depicted in sport film?
I. Theorizing Sporting Nationalism
a. Nationalism: Several ways to describe it: 1.) Love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it. 2.) The doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other PROBLEMATIC 3.) The doctrine that nations should act
independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals pits them against one another 4.) The aspiration for national independence felt by people under foreign domination looking out for ourselves so we fight attempts from other nations to dominate us.
b. Problem: Nationalism is emotionally charged. Rarely benign.
c. Nowhere during these sporting megaevents (Olympics, World Cup, etc.) do we see a platform for advancing understanding of the nation. During these events, we learn who we are as a nation. Are used to communicate definite national political values/ideologies to both:
i. Internal Audiences: informing/informing those from the country
ii. External audiences: informing/educating the global audience
d. These have positive and negative qualities Dominant ideas of nationhood can exclude some members of the population, through the promotion of particular norms. Furthermore negative consequences can arise when nations and national populations are pitted against each other:
e. “war minus the shooting” said by George Orwell. Physical events with nations going against one another in sport
f. Benedict Anderson (1983) has suggested that the “nation” is an “imagined community”. We might consider the role of sport in such imagined communities. The nation is projected onto the athletes. The imagined community is put on their soldiers
g. Deep, horizontal comradeship” The comradeship or imagined community that defines a nation is not “natural”. Instead particular versions of a nation are created at particular points of time, by powerful groups of people, for particular purposes.
h. Ethnic nationalism: a dominant story about nationalism that privileges particular racial (and to a lesser extent gender) identities and norms
i. Geopolitics: The political relationships that result from national boundaries and borders and the pursuit of international power by competing nations (e.g. the Cold War is an example of a geopolitical conflict).
II. Sport and the Imagined Nation
a. Sport symbolically represents people, communities, regions, nations. Chants, flags, symbols
b. Sport provides two spaces for representation: the athletes and the spectators. i. People in the stands: Except during times of war, seldom is the
communion between members of the nation who otherwise would be
classified as strangers
ii. Sport is passion.
III. Sports and the Promotion of National Identity
a. Sporting occasions are just one of many megaevents that cities/nations have used to assert international prestige/status.
i. Others include world fairs, expositions, festivals, cultural events
IV. Sport and Political Ideology
a. Sport is deeply political
i. Promote superiority (winning on an international stage),
ii. show strength of character,
iii. demonstrate the viability of given political economic systems (international completion during the cold war),
iv. protest or impose sanctions (apartheid South Africa)
v. foster diplomatic relations (ping pong diplomacy).
b. The Olympics have always been deeply political. They are a way to use physical bodies in a competitive setting to promote certain ideas
i. The body politic: This is a notion that refers to how the people within a national political structure represent a metaphysical body. head of the state= ruling power, All the different aspects of state (military, commercial aspects) = organs that keep body alive.
ii. Some sports scholars would argue that the “body politic” metaphor comes to life in the body of the athlete. For example, when the athlete wins this is taken to suggest that the athlete’s nation, the structures that make up that nation (i.e. economic and political systems), and that nation’s peoples, are superiorly embodied by that athlete.
c. The Nazi Olympics
i. 1936 was the first televised Olympic games. This was propaganda for nation and ethnic nationalism Aryan supremacy. B/c televisioncould send message to nations that Germany was a major political player. Hitler could secure consent through media and the control of space put people (gypsees and others) in encampments and “clean up Berlin” and other places
ii. Many elite athletes boycotted Games and organizaed a People’s Olympiad in Barcelona but abandoned the day before because of outbreak of the Spanish Civil War
iii. The Game’s propaganda
1. Body’s Culture racist conception of the German Vilk and
sociallife (concentration camps, denial of humanitarism)
2. Theatre of Power display of collective, disciplined German boides celebrating the cause. Suggests that there was widespread
3. Use of the Games of ideological force to express historical
ambitions and significance of Nazim, despite Games’ emphasis on peace
d. Sport and Aryan Propaganda
i. Footage of the 1936 Olympics were used as celebration of political regime following the games. Images of Hitler in the crowd. Viewing screens wee ejected around Germany. Most famous film to do this:
1. The film Olympia, directed by Leni Riefenstal juxtaposes ancient Greek bodies with modern German bodies promoted the idea of the athletic body as an extension of the Nazi body politic of power and
history. Not explicit but there are subtle uses of bodily aesthetics
2. Provides a specific example of sport film as a tool of propaganda
that promoted Nazi propaganda. For example, the bodies that
comprise the film Olympia suggest that the metaphorical body of
the German nation is/or should be comprised of specifically
gendered, radicalized, and nationalized bodies.
V. Rocky IV
a. Context: 1980s. Fears in U.S. Soe people supported socialism people working together. And others supported capitalism. socialism and capitalism were competing through rampant Cold War propaganda and geopolitical reform. During this time sport was very important for promoting national identities and in turn political ideologies for both Russia and America.
i. In Russia, sport was important for showing ideals and showing certain ways of life.
ii. Russian athletes were basically employees of the state who were supposed to promote the ideals of the state
iii. Successes on the sport field were taken to reinforce the superiority of the nation and its system (this is why the Miracle on Ice of 1980 was so
important to beat Russia in a sport they dominated was a huge feat. We sent a message about American strength during a time where we were in Cuban Missile Crisis).
b. LA 1984 Summer Games. Hamburger Olypics. Was America’s chance to show that capitalism is the preferred way to run society. A lot of American sponsors. Strong corporate prescense.
c. The climate was changing So Rocky IV goes out into the streets.
i. Pay attention to two scenes
1. Rocky training in the wilderness. Speaks to American passion.
Trains for the fight with the land. His competitor was hooked up to
machine. Dehumanizes him. Fighting Soviets.
2. Famous ending scene. Says I can change, you can change. Uses
images of the crowd. The crowd converts to his way of thinking.
Shows mass consent.
Module 4 Sport, Film, and Race I: Constructing Blackness
a. White individuals cerebral, intellectual hardworking individuals that achieve success by virtue of their character and work ethic, key gatekeepers
b. African Americans, “natural” abilities and the use of their body as a labor tool. Because black people were brought here for physical labor, there are emphasis put on black bodies, saying they are strong and that their minds were weak
c. Identity politics: work with and though the interests of social groups and identities (through race, class, religion, gender, ethnicity, ideology, nation, sexual orientation, culture, medical conditions, profession, etc.).
d. Racial Stereotypes: beliefs that we hold about the tendencies or characteristics of certain groups. They often work by way of two fallacies:
i. The first is to assume that the group shares the tendencies or
characteristics that belongs to the group.
ii. The second is to assume the individual shares the tendencies or characteristics that have been attributed to the group
e. Binary logic: opposite that only make since when used in pairs
i. Examples include: black/white, male/female, nature/civilization, good/evil.
II. Blackness in American Pop Culture
a. One of the most enduring racist myths “black body”. This natural physicality myth is linked to ideas of intellectual inferiority and, in turn white superiority i. Commodified blackness: black identity being sold. A good example of
this is how Michael Jordan was rebranded to appeal to middleclass white consumers and families
b. Colorblind society: suggests that race doesn’t matter. However, the issue is that we tend to transpose “blackness” on to other individuals. In this sense racial transcendence by characters such as Jordan and Tiger Woods is in reality racial displacement. Key point: Popular media is an important cultural forum through which racial politics can be reinforced/ and or challenged III. Mediating Black Culture
a. 1970s. Black sitcoms. Sanford and son. Fat Albert.
1. Emerging black middle class that corporate peole wanted to tap
into and capitalize on. Blacks moving from south to
2. But still had stereotypes Mush Mouth, Dumb Donald. These
types of characters sold to wide audience.
b. Late 70s Jimmy Carter America.
1. Good Times family that was trying to get by in Chicago but
could still enjoy life. Very specific representation of urban
2. The Jeffersonsmany characters trying to get by. Main
character gets hit by bus and gets money. They lucked up and
got rich. But black folks weren’t comfortable living with
c. 1980s Different Strokes, Webster, Benson
1. Black character relying on white people ex: Webster adopted
by white NFL player
2. Juxtaposes civilized white culture with uncivilized working
3. White Paternalism: the idea that without white individuals and
their kind and giving ways, the black characters would not be
able to survive or succeed in society.
4. Fresh Prince he moves out of the streets to Bel Air and him
trying to grow into this new world.
5. Cosby Show & A Different World popular notion of upward
mobility (the notion that one can increase their “lot” in
d. Later shows created a new form of black identity that was being sold to a wider audience blackness became popular to white audience i.e Michael Jordan (see above). David Aldredge said he became someone who people would want to introduce their children to. Well, who is someone you wouldn’t want to introduce your children to?
i. The Atypical (Exceptional) African American male people like Jordan, Prince and Magic Johnson transcend race but if they transcend race than race is displaced onto other people and the stereotype is
1. Who the is actually black in America?
i. NWASeen as terrorist group. Showed that what it meant to be black in mainstream meant to be outspoken and urban.
ii. A lot of this is tied to the context. There was a lot of issues
iii. Hip hop allowed black people to have an art form that challenged the status quo.
IV. Representing Blackness
a. Film is important in representing cultural belonging and showing subjects as representing cultures
i. Subjectivity: means two thing: 1) how we can be governed by society 2) how we as individuals have decisions we can make (i.e. play sports that we want to). But even when we choose sometimes, we don’t have may choices. This demonstrates how both meanings of subjectivity
work together in our lives. We might suggest that film works to create, change and reinforce the limits to the subjective opportunities for
given racial identities.
b. Negro Art began in Harlem renaissance. Did two things: 1.) Sought to show positive black representation in protest of negative images. Ex: Cooley High, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. 2.) took negative images and made them good with black vernacular. Ex: Duke Ellington’s Black and Tan
c. Blaxploitation: the commercial exploitation and manipulation of cultural practices, identities, and bodies. empowering and disempowering
V. Whitewashing Racial History: Sport movies have a tendency to rewrite important historical moments. Gives white protagonist credit for everything.
a. Rarely do films challenge dominant rendering of history. For instance, The Blind Side ignores Michael’s struggle and gives him a white savior.
Remember the Titans ignores the civil rights movement
Module 5 Sport, Film, and Race II: Reproducing Whiteness
The body is a sight of racial identity. Those
I. Theorizing Filmic Whiteness
a. Varieties of Whiteness: rich/poor, lower/middle/upper class, urban/suburban/rural b. Subjectivity/subject position: Subject position refers to how individuals come to identify with, or position themselves against, particular subjectivities.
i. In relation to sports film, we could think how characters in the story line offer us multiple subject positions with which we could identify.
ii. In turn, these filmic subjects provide an avenue to learn our place, and the place of other subjects (individuals or groups), in the world.
c. Invisible whiteness: Many critics suggest that white privilege is linked to the notion that whiteness is invisible, in that to be white is to be “normal” and not marked as “different.”
d. Whiteness studies: originally developed in line with conservative values to explore how white people were being disadvantaged in society by policies such as affirmative action or equal opportunity initiatives. More recently there has been a turn towards the study of white privilege.
II. The Meaning of Whiteness
a. white identities can be promoted, celebrated, and linked to white identity politics (in certain contexts).The body is a site of identity and racial identity. Typically in Hollywood, which bodies have been represented as heroes (studies show the protagonist tends to be white) and villains (the villain, thief, murderer, etc. tends to be a person of color or of dark complexion)
b. What is Whiteness:
i. Not Biology no gene determines color. It’s socially constructed. The science behind race is ideological which is historical. Whiteness is a
ii. Not an Illusion an identity. It is social history where it gave people more powerful than others
iii. Is Power & Privilege, Pain & Pride whiteness gave people power because of the myth that they were naturally more powerful
c. Phenotypes and Signs of Race how people are classified
i. Phenotype skin color, hair, facial features
1. In film phenotypically traits are used to signify particular signified ideas (good: white, bad: evil)
1. Signifier: something that comes to represent something else, or the signified (American flag: signifier, Nation: signified). But the
signifier always is used to point to a broader topics i.e. good, bad,
2. Certain elements of people are used to signify something. But the
issue is that signifiers that evoke a certain type of racial group are
used to evoke negative ideals= arbitrary relationship
3. Film as a form of popular representation is important for creating
identity positions and promoting identity politics.
III. Embodying Rural (White) America
a. Whiteness and Sport in the Rural South
i. “Warriors and Servants” Ole Miss home team of the old south
1. The Grove at Ole Miss has “Walk of Champions” where the
student athletes, mosty black, walk to the stadium. Only people of
color are “warriors and servants”
2. In the past, the Ole Miss games were used to stir up white pride.
Used to say they weren’t going to integrate.
ii. People argue that its heritage and confederate flag represents heritage. IV. Mediating NASCAR Nation
a. In NASCAR there is a unique alignment of cultural and political ideologies. i. Explicit and particular white identity, linked to broader political ideas (tea party believe blacks lack in jobs/willpower to get out of poverty) and consumption practices (confederate flag tshirts).
ii. The production and consumption of cultural goods and practices is heavily political.
iii. NASCAR is also space that intersects with other cultural practices (religion Christianity).
1. Specific brand of Christianity at NASCAR. “Real America.” often said about people at NASCAR races. Faith and Sponsorshipwhite
folks at a race talking about Jesus. Certain identies being
b. Talladega Nights challenges, reinforces, or offers satire about 1) white privilege and white identity politics in the sport of NASCAR, 2) white privilege and white identity politics in the U.S. South, and 3) Hollywood’s tendency to promote or mock Southern white identity politics.
i. Satires all the concepts of NASCAR
c. Locating Whiteness: in the South. Hundreds of years later, the Slave states still have precivil war ideals
d. Denzin: “new cultural racism”: we see a consistent positioning of white bodies in positions of wealth and privilege; shows white privilege as something natural or innate within American society.
V. Racism in ‘PostRace’ America
a. Many people saw election of Obama as a turning point. Is it?
b. Individual vs structural arguments to poverty:
i. Individualism: the individual is choosing not to do the things that would allow them to rise from positions of poverty
ii. Structuralism: history and racism are still part of our society, therefore when you are born into a particular cultural grouping these histories are working with or against you