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The spirit of Rocky lives on in the Creed trilogy

Making his directorial debut in Creed III, Michael B. Jordan brings the ongoing story of Apollo Creed’s son to a satisfying conclusion—for now.

Michael B. Jordan stars in and direct "Creed III". (Image: Eli Ade | © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Sports movies are among the most durable of genres, and nostalgia sequels and long-running franchises have become almost the norm for popular movies from the past half-century. But the legacy of Rocky is unique. Few big-screen franchises in any genre have remained vital after so many years, and no other sports movie has come close to launching such an enduring cinematic saga. The nearest analogue might be the Karate Kid franchise, which ran four movies from 1984 to 1994 and now has a crowd-pleasing afterlife with Netflix’s Cobra Kai—and even The Karate Kid was almost a Rocky movie in the first place (so much so that it was directed by John Avildsen and features a song, Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best,” originally written for Rocky III).

The first two Creed films were “legacyquels” in the strict sense given by Matt Singer in coining the term: movies “in which beloved aging stars reprise classic roles and pass the torch to younger successors.” By this definition, 2006’s Rocky Balboa, coming 16 years after Rocky V, was not a legacyquel; it could be called a nostalgia sequel, which I have described as a sequel made after a franchise has lain fallow for perhaps a decade or more, in which the operative question is not “What happened next?” but “Where are they now?” Creed introduced us to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Rocky’s great adversary turned friend Apollo Creed, with Rocky now in the role of reluctant trainer and mentor. (Wood Harris played “Little Duke” Evers, the son of Apollo’s trainer Duke, who initially refuses to train Adonis.) Creed II doubled down on revisiting the Rocky films by bringing back Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago as trainer and promoter for his own son, the similarly intimidating Viktor (Florian Munteanu), who challenges Adonis in a bid for family redemption in Russia.

Helmed by Jordan himself in his directorial debut, with a story co-written by Creed writer-director Ryan Coogler, Creed III is the first Rocky film featuring neither Stallone himself nor any returning character from the first six films, except Apollo Creed’s widow and Adonis’s adoptive mother, Mary Anne (played in the Creed movies by a regal Phylicia Rashad). Rocky is fleetingly mentioned, and the younger Drago appears briefly as an Apollo-like adversary turned ally, but the antagonist is someone from Adonis’s own past. And that’s not the only way Creed III goes its own way. Instead of once again casting the hero as an underdog against a younger and/or more established opponent—or, alternatively, easing the now-retired Adonis into a mentor role in relation to one of the young fighters at the gym he manages—Creed III boldly upends the formulas: This time Adonis is confronted with an older mentor figure from his youth, a once-promising coulda-been who lost his shot thanks to a lengthy prison sentence.

Jonathan Majors is a compelling presence in any non-MCU production (see The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Da Five Bloods; you might know him as Kang the Conqueror). He’s exceptionally riveting as Damian “Dame” Anderson, once a big-brother figure to young Adonis from their days at a juvenile hall and Adonis’s first mentor in boxing. Setting the stage, an opening flashback introduces us to Dame as a young man and Adonis as a teen (respectively, Spence Duane Moore II and Alex Henderson), some time after Adonis has been adopted by Mary Anne. How this fateful early episode ends isn’t immediately revealed, but it’s clear that Adonis carries unresolved guilt over Dame taking the fall while he himself moved on as if it never happened.

Despite their shared history, Dame represents, as antagonists in this franchise generally do, a sociological contrast to the hero. Rocky was a small-time, working-class palooka whose rags-to-riches story is part grit and part dumb luck. His antagonists include the polished showman Apollo, the Soviet golden boy Drago, and Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black. “Clubber” is also the franchise’s nastiest villain, a fact highlighting an uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic running through all six films named for Rocky, every one of which depicts a Black champion humbled, beaten, or killed in the ring by a White challenger. (The White challenger isn’t always Rocky: In Rocky IV Ivan Drago kills Apollo, and in Rocky V White challenger Tommy “The Machine” Gunn defeats Black champion Union Cane. Both films end with Rocky defeating the White challenger.)

The Creed films upend all of this. Adonis’s background is complex: an Black orphan with a troubled childhood who nevertheless comes of age amid privilege in the care of his wealthy adoptive mother. The very way he talks telegraphs the quality of his education to Rocky. His sparring partners and opponents in Creed and Creed II are White and/or Latino; the main antagonist in Creed, “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, is a Liverpudlian champion and convict being forced into retirement by a looming prison sentence. (Like Rocky in the first film, Creed wins a moral victory by going the distance but loses the fight in a split decision.)

At the same time, every Rocky film in some way pits the hero against himself, and in Creed III the internal drama finds its strongest external realization. Creed III pits Adonis against a shadowy mirror image: a charismatic, confident man he once looked to as the future he wanted, and whose hard-case life easily could have become his own past, if not for the privilege and the opportunities that came with the discovery of his illustrious paternity as well as the maternal generosity of his adoptive mother. By the third film, Adonis is in many ways living the dream. He’s happily married to his love interest from the first film, successful pop musician Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson, radiating self-possession and emotional intelligence), and they have an adorable daughter. Life isn’t without challenges: Due to her progressive hearing loss, Bianca has retired from performing and is reinventing herself as a producer, and their daughter Amara was born deaf. (She’s played by 9-year-old deaf actress Mila Davis-Kent.) To Dame, though, everything Adonis has is a mocking reminder of the dreams of his own younger self.

Creed III is about the “two Americas” invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr., divided partly by race, but more by class and the economic divide between the haves and have-nots. It’s also about the extent to which the happiness of the privileged can turn on the suffering of the disadvantaged being out of sight and out of mind. None of this is explicitly stated when Dame appears again in Adonis’s life, but it’s implicit in every guarded word of ostensibly cordial conversation as the two brothers-turned-strangers warily circle one another while feigning not to. Adonis says, truthfully, that he never got any of Dame’s letters, but that’s not the whole guilty truth of why he never reached out to Dame. And while Dame, far from expressing envy, lightly needles Adonis about his “monkey-suit” and swanky home in the “boonies” of Bel-Air, the resentment is just submerged enough that Adonis can pretend to ignore it. As for Bianca, she trusts Adonis enough to invite Dame to dinner, but she also knows him well enough to be attuned to Dame’s suggestions that there may be more to their history than Adonis has admitted to her.

This may be more character drama than we expect from a Rocky sequel, although the original Rocky was perhaps a character drama first and a sports movie second. Creed III isn’t that, but it’s a kind of drama we haven’t seen before: shades of a Cape Fear–esque thriller with an insinuating, slyly menacing antagonist with a grudge threatening the hero’s domestic happiness. Majors is actually a few years younger than Jordan, but, between the poised calculation of his performance and his heavier face and bulkier build, he easily plays older. Yet he can’t be dismissed as a has-been: With his unnervingly nonchalant gaze and jaw jutting forward, Majors radiates hidden, explosive danger, and his formidably brawny physique makes an understatement of his boast to have kept in shape in prison.

Jordan gives his most layered performance of the series, though his arc is perhaps too schematic, too stubbornly withholding from Bianca, until he isn’t. This is too much like a retread of Creed II, when Bianca lamented to Mary Anne about Adonis being distant and disconnected and seeming not to care even about her. After nearly a decade of marriage, I would like to see more growth than this, though to be fair it’s plausible that the reappearance of Dame might trigger old behaviors and social scripts in Adonis. Certainly Bianca has grown, and Thompson effortlessly weaves the confidence and compassion that have always characterized her performance around an increasing number of potentially conflicting commitments that she somehow resolves. Among these are her work, her marriage, her husband’s work, their daughter, the daddy-daughter relationship, and the daughter’s struggles and acting out at school, not to mention the delicate balance between concern for her mother-in-law’s health and respect for her pride. Rashad, too, has never been better in a part with more emotional weight than in previous films.

Does it go without saying that the boxing sequences are imaginatively and energetically staged and filmed with wincing persuasiveness and emotional power? I am not—I can’t be—a fan of professional boxing. The debilitating cumulative toll on the body over the course of a boxing career is a greater issue even than with professional football, since in boxing the goal is ideally to damage the other player badly enough to concuss him or otherwise render him incapable of standing. I can’t reconcile that with the fifth commandment. Yet I find that I can still appreciate a boxing movie, especially when the fight scenes emphasize precision and strategy over sheer bludgeoning power. Creed III gives us such a great example of this early on that it somewhat undercuts the final showdown, as solid as it is. If they had switched the endings of the two fights, it would make a good movie even more satisfying.

It’s still a satisfying movie, and a rousing conclusion of a trilogy as well as an ongoing reinvention of many of the best elements of the Rocky franchise. Whether Stallone returns or not, the spirit of Rocky will live on. Creed III probably isn’t the end, but if it were, it would be a fitting finale to the Rocky saga—just like both of its predecessors.

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About Steven D. Greydanus 42 Articles
Steven D. Greydanus is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, a permanent deacon in the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, and the founder of He has degrees in media arts and religious studies. He and his wife Suzanne have seven children.


  1. Find myself perplexed by hearing Sylvester Stallone interviews. Seems an enigma. Can “Rocky” be called “artistic genius”? Hardly! And yet…

  2. This movie would seem to have included as many loose ends as possible, done that way in order to get them tied in knots at the end with a few left dangling; so that as many people in the audience would see at least one or two things in whatever combination that would evoke subsets of feeling and entice their sense of omniscience with expectation. The whole Rocky thing, you can’t tell if it is lust after fame or if it’s lessons in killer instinct for the hell of it -and maybe it’s both; at any rate the 2 of them I saw I found emotionally blood-crawling. Sorry Greydanus, it’s not that you did a bad review. Hence, now after reading it, I would not go watch Creed III, it might be that bridge too far that you never arrived at because you were actually going another way, but you nevertheless heard all about it from the fans in the grip of getting there, why it is important to cross it like so much water under the bridge that actually belonged where it had to pass. I mean think about it, part of the beauty of drama/art is how it is contained but kept intense within limits.

    The US produced a lot better in terms of boxers and movies about boxers!

  3. I am not—I can’t be—a fan of professional boxing.

    His relentless moral preening is why this is the first and last review by SGD I’ve read in ten years.

  4. “His antagonists include the polished showman Apollo, the Soviet golden boy Drago, and Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black. “Clubber” is also the franchise’s nastiest villain, a fact highlighting an uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic running through all six films named for Rocky, every one of which depicts a Black champion humbled, beaten, or killed in the ring by a White challenger. (The White challenger isn’t always Rocky: In Rocky IV Ivan Drago kills Apollo, and in Rocky V White challenger Tommy “The Machine” Gunn defeats Black champion Union Cane. Both films end with Rocky defeating the White challenger.)”

    It would be nice if just one thing – anything – today could pass through an observation without it becoming about skin color, gender, or one of a million group identity traits. The problem here seems to be a screenplay written by someone who wished to play the hero while possessing the unfortunate tendency of being white. Granted, pathological obsession with race and skin color is a modern American distinctive as much as apple pie and baseball used to be. Nonetheless, no matter how righteous this insistence on forgoing human beings in preference to focusing on skin color might make us feel, one would have to have a staggering level of obtuseness to think it is doing anyone any good, or leading to some utopia of racial harmony.

    Oh, and if the only difference between Rocky and Clubber Lang is skin color, then the only difference between MLK and Hitler is the language in which they gave speeches. Again, looking at the complexity of the human condition and seeing only one trait is something that has never worked, and isn’t working now.

    • Dave G., you don’t seem to have read me very carefully, even the bit you quoted.

      You say “The problem here seems to be a screenplay written by someone who wished to play the hero while possessing the unfortunate tendency of being white.” No, the problem is, to begin with, an unbroken pattern, playing out over six out of six movies, of White challengers (who are not always Rocky) defeating, killing, or humbling Black champions. In every Rocky film from the original to 2006’s Rocky Balboa.

      The problem is that in reality the best American boxers have historically been Black, yet popular boxing movies from the Rocky movies to Raging Bull, Cinderella Man and The Fighter are more often about White guys. In 1976, when Rocky came out, there was no white American heavyweight boxing champion—and White American boxing fans weren’t happy about it.

      In fact, Rocky was loosely inspired by a real match in 1975 between Muhammad Ali and a White boxer named Chuck Wepner, a match billed as—I am not making this up—“Give the White Guy a Break.” (This match came one year after the “Rumble in the Jungle” pitting Ali against George Foreman. Race was not incidental to how boxing was perceived and marketed in the 1970s.)

      In the real fight, Ali won by knocking out Wepner. Rocky changes this by having Apollo Creed win not in a knockout but in a split decision, giving Rocky the moral victory for going the distance—and then, in the sequel, Rocky beats Creed. It is absolutely not coincidental that Rocky gave White boxing fans in fiction what they didn’t have in reality. Which I have no problem with, in one movie! When the pattern extends to six out of six movies, though, that‘s a problem.

      You say “if the only difference between Rocky and Clubber Lang is skin color…” No, when I said Clubber Lang “is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black, I was explicitly speaking of the point of “sociological contrast.” Clubber and Rocky had similarly tough early lives, and were both involved in crime. Like Rocky in the first two films, Clubber is “young and hungry and has something to prove” (read more). I also said that Clubber is “the franchise’s nastiest villain,” so obviously race isn’t the only point of contrast!

      • No, I got perfectly what you are saying. You are analyzing this through the leftwing spectrum of group identity labels. In this case, skin color.

        As a film critic, I’m sure you’re aware of Stallone’s legendary attempt to get his story sold. Rocky was written by Stallone with himself – a white man (technically Italian/Jewish, but today just white) – in mind as the lead. And BTW, when Rocky was released, the emphasis was on the character being Italian, since in those days Italian Americans were still considered ethnic minorities (like Polish Americans, Greek Americans, or other non-Anglo Americans), not just ‘white’ per modern progressive categories. Despite being a struggling actor, he refused to take money for the story unless he got the starring role. In a different sane age, an inspiring story.

        In your world, Stallone only gets a pass if he hands the story over to the studios, who then make Rocky African American while Stallone accepts a life of being a supporting player in Hollywood. Anything else, and you get to play the race card owing to Stallone’s ethnicity.

        Think on it. Had Stallone and the producers made Apollo white, just imagine the reaction today. ‘Racism! They never let a black man be portrayed in a sport with so many black men in it!’ The brilliance of the left being a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t, damned if you’re carbon-based’ approach. Instead, the film makes Apollo – a very rounded and interesting and good character – black. He isn’t some cardboard cutout bad guy. You half root for him and his team in the movie. Yet that isn’t enough (it never is, since equality is never the point).

        As for Rocky IV, hello, the story line involves Apollo (whose character was already established by Carl Weathers) dying at the hands of the laughably villainous Drago, a one-dimensional Soviet bad guy if there ever was one. If anything is offensive it’s the cardboard villain that Drago is shown as. But what would you have them do to resolve your dilemma, make the Soviet boxer Drago black? Change Apollo and have him be played by a white actor for the movie? I can see that going over like a lead balloon. Have Rocky get killed and Weathers take the franchise from Stallone? What’s your solution? Or is it that from the beginning Stallone should have known his place owing to his skin color and stayed a small part actor for his life in the name of correct racial sensitivity?

        See the problem with the left’s race obsession and group identity narratives? My dad was a boxing fan and I can’t recall him obsessing about the boxers’ skin colors. He didn’t like Ali because of Ali’s activism, not because he was black. He liked George Foreman, who was black (he even bought his grill). In the early years he and most (white) boxing fans I knew were dutifully impressed by Tyson, who was black. If the media was obsessed about the skin color in Rocky’s time, it wouldn’t surprise me. Just look at today. Apparently, some things never change.

        Oh, and you did too say skin color was the main difference between Lang and Rocky:

        “Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black.”

        Which makes me wonder if you watched the third movie. In many ways, Lang was portrayed as the opposite of Rocky. Rocky was a criminal, but humble. He didn’t deserve the title in his own mind. Lang felt it was owed him. Lang felt entitled. Rocky treated Adrian with gentleness and care. Lang sees her as an object to be taunted. Lang was what Rocky could have been, but wasn’t. That we insist on boiling it down to the right and wrong skin colors is, again, a characteristic of modern progressive thinking that apparently has never changed, or learned its own lessons.

        • Excellent insights, Dave G. I wrote a similar commentary to yours that exposes Greydanus for his ongoing unjust attacks on white people in general, but the original version didn’t make it through the CWR sensors (too harsh, etc., I suppose) who have no qualms whatsoever allowing Greydanus to continue to make vile attacks on white people in general, and also from time-to-time malevolently attack specific people like Sylvester Stallone in immorally and wrongly accusing them of anti-black racism.

          An edited version of my original comments from a few days back has now been submitted, and hopefully CWR will permit that version to be published since there are many very important points in that commentary which not only dovetail in with your comments, they also add some crucial facts purposely ignored by Greydanus (which makes his accusations even more unjust in purposely providing a distorted narrative) that completely destroy his narrow-focused false conclusions that purport to show that “Stallone’s 6 Rocky Movies are anti-black racist in many respects,” which is pure hogwash.

          Kudos for seeing through and also exposing the most unjust agenda of Mr. Greydanus.

    • “It would be nice if just one thing – anything – today could pass through an observation without it becoming about skin color, gender, or one of a million group identity traits.”

      Agreed, Dave G. Having read a handful of other articles in Catholic World Report by Steven Greydanus, it is quite apparent that he often presents a very narrow left wing point of view that self-righteously sees too many things through the distorted prism of “white people are racists” except for white people like him. Rich Leonardi in his brief comment is right on the money as Greydanus does a lot of moral preening from an obtuse perspective that is just morally wrong. He recently felt compelled to attack Bill Murray for his alleged shortcomings, and now Sylvester Stallone for allegedly writing Rocky movies to promote anti-black sentiments, which a good and fair-minded deacon would never do.

      • A cursory glance at his recent social media posts tells me that he’s extremely partisan. I’m not a Catholic, but isn’t that sort of thing supposed to be discouraged among members of the clergy? Never mind the fact that one of the major political parties in the United States is intractably pro-abortion and therefore profoundly anti-Christian. One would think that he’d regard them with a lot more disdain than, say, the people at Fox News.

  5. 3/3/2023

    Greydanus writes: “Rocky was a small-time, working-class palooka whose rags-to-riches story is part grit and part dumb luck. His antagonists include the polished showman Apollo, the Soviet golden boy Drago, and Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black. “Clubber” is also the franchise’s nastiest villain, a fact highlighting an uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic running through all six films named for Rocky, every one of which depicts a Black champion humbled, beaten, or killed in the ring by a White challenger. (The White challenger isn’t always Rocky: In Rocky IV Ivan Drago kills Apollo, and in Rocky V White challenger Tommy “The Machine” Gunn defeats Black champion Union Cane. Both films end with Rocky defeating the White challenger.)”

    First, contrary to the reviewer’s bigoted narrative, the character of Clubber Lang in Rocky III is not mainly different from Rocky in being black, and the nastiest villain by far is the white Ivan Drago who mercilessly kills Apollo Creed in the ring (and is also primarily a villain again in Creed II). Clubber Lang is basically a younger and hungrier version of Rocky who also disrespects black Apollo Creed in public, a fact which motivates Apollo to help Rocky defeat Clubber in the rematch by training him. Note also in Rocky III how Rocky’s brother-in-law demonstrates some personal racism in the movie, but it is Rocky that exposes his idiocy in being so, and he comes around by the end of it.

    Second, Rocky’s character is based on 1970’s journeyman boxer Chuck Wepner who performed unexpectedly well against Muhammad Ali before ultimately losing to him a year or so before the first Rocky movie. Stallone was at the Ali-Wepner fight, and that was the motivation for his development of Apollo Creed based on Ali and Rocky based on Wepner.

    Third, the so-called “much-noted racial dynamic” is simply the reviewer’s agreement with a minor league and ignorantly bigoted narrative that he claims is “much-noted” to give it the false impression of being something obvious and accepted across the board that reveals Stallone’s alleged racism. This despicably unjust accusation leaves out all of the elements that clearly illustrate Stallone’s demonstrable lack of racism (evidenced throughout the movies by such things as the elevation of the characters of Creed who becomes a close friend of Rocky, Creed’s black manager who becomes Rocky’s manager, and the victory of black champion Mason Dixon against Rocky in the last Rocky film wherein a point is made of how Dixon demonstrated an ability to be injured but also go the distance like the best of the best champions do, a point which Rocky makes by telling Dixon that he has great heart after the fight ends,……), but of course the dishonest woke narrative must not mention any of these things. Why be honest and present a complete picture when you can self-righteously accuse various white people of being racist by setting up strawman arguments? It’s the same playbook used by many leftists to wrongly accuse white people in general of racism by leaving out essential details that demonstrate the falsity of their narrative, and Greydanus loves to play this game.

    Fourth, since Rocky is the primary hero of the movies, he succeeds against more black fighters BECAUSE at the time of most Rocky movies, blacks dominated the sport of boxing and they still do. Imagine if Stallone portrayed Apollo Creed as a white person, or that all other champions were white. That would have been racist. Of course in winning at the end, Rocky defeats some black champions. Duh! Again, only an ignorant bigot sees this as a form of racism. What is also left out is that Rocky is humbled and beaten badly in his first fight with Clubber Lang, and it is the black man Apollo Creed who gets him to admit that he lost because of his lack of humility and in many ways repeating the mistakes that Apollo made in his fights with Rocky. Imagine that? A black man portrayed by Stallone as the one who humbles and educates Rocky to help Rocky succeed. So much for the false anti-black narrative.

    Food for more thought: Rocky’s record against black and white fighters in the Rocky movies:

    1 win; 1 loss vs. black Apollo Creed
    1 win; 1 loss vs. black Clubber Lang
    1 win vs. white Ivan Drago
    1 win vs. white Tommy Gunn (street fight)
    1 loss vs. black Mason Dixon

    Total: 2 wins and 3 losses against black fighters
    2 wins and no losses against white fighters

    Good readers of CWR: Always be on the look-out for an anti-white narrative that permeates much of Greydanus’ writing. He is indeed a committed leftist in many respects who also shamelessly promotes the obtuse 2018 document “Open Wide Our Hearts” from the USCCB that also presents a left-wing biased narrative that sets forth the false left wing woke narrative that most if not all white people are inherently racist, and that systemic oppression and racism against blacks and other minorities are still prevalent today. The claims are absurdly false and easily refuted, but much like the laughably ridiculous anti-white “1619 Project,” all that matters is the malevolent shaming of white people in order to push various forms of socialism and more government controls favored by most members of the USCCB. To further this goal, objective truth and justice must simply be ignored.

    • The racism of the entire ‘white privilege’ narrative shows the appeal and ease with which people embrace one of history’s most common practices. A brief scan of world history shows racism is quite common around the world and through the ages. And it’s almost always about power, justifying the treating of those people the way us people wish for our own ends. That this anti-white racism is driven mostly (though not exclusively) by white progressives doesn’t make it any less racist. Brilliant perhaps, but no less racist.

      Part of what makes it so popular is that we are already a mighty smug and self-righteous era, where criticizing, condemning, judging, and complaining about almost anyone but me is as much a part of culture as bellbottoms were in the 1970s. It’s what we do. We criticize the past, dead people, other people, anything we see, anything we like. There is no end to it. As one of my sons so brutally put it, when your generation has such a dearth of accomplishments as ours, arrogance will have to do.

      Adding this idea that whites can cash in some dime store righteousness by accepting an attitude about whites that sounds like it was lifted from a 1930s Reichstag speech is just what the doctor ordered. After all, not only does it fit in with the whole idea that anything and anyone before us deserves only to be criticized and condemned, it gives a bit of the pharisee’s prayer for a bonus. After all, when whites insist that whites are racist and anything involving whites is racist, you can almost hear them add the unspoken qualifier ‘except me, thank you that you didn’t make me like all the other whites who aren’t as righteous as me.’

  6. I don’t think SDG is getting phased by any of you, his eyes in his picture used to look right but now they staring straight in the camera. Why should it be so upsetting if the movies he discusses lead him with a certain point of view? I think they have this array in them that allows that. My own initial comment goes from aesthetic criteria so I can circumscribe what I see happening overall in them. I think I am right to notice that something toxic and dark stews in Stallone and it was there from the first Rocky. Also there in later films of his that have no connection, such as Bullet to the Head where it reaches its pitch.

    Also to SDG’s credit, he is more dispassionate in his assessments. For example, the misplaced boxing events in Creed III. The Rocky franchise couldn’t find its best way forward so it had to sensationalize more -which is impossible to balance.

    ‘ This may be more character drama than we expect from a Rocky sequel, although the original Rocky was perhaps a character drama first and a sports movie second. Creed III isn’t that, but it’s a kind of drama we haven’t seen before: shades of a Cape Fear–esque thriller with an insinuating, slyly menacing antagonist with a grudge threatening the hero’s domestic happiness. ‘

    – quoting SDG from his article

    • I don’t think it’s his analysis of the movie or the overall franchise that is the issue. It’s that he is tapping into the modern socially acceptable racism of the day. That it happens to be aimed at ‘whites’ makes is no less racist. The thought that we can assume malice or worst motives or anything about someone based on their skin color was supposed to have gone out after 1945. That it has become all the rage, and often driven by people with the same color, simply demonstrates man’s capacity to miss the lessons of history. What Deacon Greydanus thinks of the overall film series is, of course, a matter of opinion. And he’s welcome to share it. But if we ever wondered if we would have joined or stood against the racism of Germany in the 1930s or the Jim Crow South of the 1920s, now is our chance. And some are apparently trying to show they wouldn’t have gone along with the packs then, since they’re not doing it now.

      • I’m not sure, Dave, but it almost sounds to me like you’re saying that White people have become the new Jews in Nazi Germany or the new Blacks in the Jim Crow South. Please tell me I’m wrong.

        • Of course. Well done. That’s exactly what is happening. I wouldn’t say we’re there yet, but it’s obviously the goal. When you can assume worst motives of someone based upon their skin color, or insist that everyone in an entire ethnic group is a somehow guilty of this or that owing to their ethnic identity, how is that different from how the Nazis portrayed Jews? Or blacks were portrayed in the Jim Crow South? It’s racism pure and simple. That it’s promoted mostly (but again, not exclusively) by white liberals in positions of societal influence doesn’t change that fact. It makes it a bit cleverer, but no less racist. And if someone is prepared to embrace such racism today, there is little to suggest he wouldn’t have embraced those other forms of racism in the past.

          If you’re interested, I have a wonderful anecdote that displays this from my time sojourning with Antiochian Orthodox Christians. It’s quite an eye-opener. You’ll never see the phrase ‘white privilege’ the same way again.

          • Dave G, I know literally not a single person who believes that everyone in any entire ethnic group is guilty of anything owing to their ethnic identity. I’m not saying no one anywhere says such a thing, but I know a lot of religious and secular people who lean left or progressive and/or could be called or call themselves “woke,” and no one I know believes that. I certainly don’t.

            I don’t assume bad motives or malice on anyone’s part, because of race or any other reason. I don’t assume that you are motivated by malice, or by racism. I don’t assume that you are racist, although you appear to have some ideas that I consider to come from a racist cultural matrix. That’s an important difference to me, because I believe in what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “social sins,” and in the application to racism in the 2018 USCCB pastoral letter against racism Open Wide Our Hearts:

            Racism can often be found in our hearts — in many cases placed there unwillingly or unknowingly by our upbringing and culture. As such, it can lead to thoughts and actions that we do not even see as racist, but nonetheless flow from the same prejudicial root.

            Such thoughts and actions are not necessarily sinful, but the challenge to confront social sin in our society and their effects on us is one we are obliged to face.

            I don’t think you are incapable of following a train of thought for two sentences at a time, and I suspect you realize that not all differences are sociological differences. I assume, therefore, that your insistence on reading my comment about Clubber Lang being like Rocky as if the prior sentence (the paragraph’s thesis sentence!) didn’t exist is due to your prejudiced misconceptions about what people like me believe.

        • He’s not. But we are getting to that point. White people aren’t being shoved into concentration camps or being attacked with firehoses. But every major cultural institution in America is beholden to an “equity” agenda that’s unapologetically anti-white. And the only logical endpoint of the “equity” agenda is what happened in Rwanda. No amount of gaslighting can obscure that fact.

        • First, I doubt you are unaware of Catholics who embrace such racist attitudes. I know of several Catholics who embrace the very racist ‘white privilege’ template. What is ‘white privilege’ but making a sweeping judgment against an entire ethnic group based on skin color? If that’s not racism I don’t know what is. Again, just because it’s sanctioned at the best parties of the day doesn’t mitigate the racism. If you personally reject such things, then I’m glad. Not surprised, but certainly glad.

          Second, I don’t consider my resistance to judging or condemning a group or individuals based on ethnicity or skin color to be grounded in a racist cultural matrix. Like so many things, it’s me clinging to the hardline sermonizing I heard from post-war liberalism growing up in the 70s and 80s. For most of my life it was always content of character, never color of skin. You start making judgements based on skin color, and you had best slip on your knee-high leathers and start goosestepping around Nuremberg. So said the liberals of my youth.

          I still hold to that. Granted, that view about group identity has been dealt with like so many other ‘liberal virtues’ of the post war years (equality, judgmentalism, free speech, religious liberty, presumption of innocence), but that doesn’t mean I have to change with the times because the current powers that be say so.

          But yes, you did make this about Stallone’s ethnicity, or at least skin color. That paragraph (and granted, I stopped there) pulled the same stunt we see now whenever too many white people are around. See the latest BAFTA kerfuffle (FWIW, just once when someone is screaming about too many whites getting an award, I’d love to see one journalist ask, “That’s an interesting observation Mr. Lee. So who among the nominees do you believe didn’t deserve the nomination?”). As I said, what choice did Stallone have, other than not be in his own movie? By the modern group identity templates, it was a chance to troll racism because a white guy beats a couple black guys a couple times in the series – context being irrelevant, skin color being primary.

          Oh, and I have read the Church’s statement you quote. That’s all fine and dandy, but can easily be abused. Sure, the statement is true for all people, but more concerning to me isn’t some old attitude now deemed racist (for some, anything from the day before yesterday is racist and bigoted). What concerns me is the nakedly obvious racism in such ideas a ‘white privilege’ or the nebulous ‘institutional racism’, where whole rivers of accusation can flow with little need for evidence beyond ‘of course they are, look at their skin color/nationality!’.

          BTW, no clue what you’re saying about the Lang statement:

          “Despite their shared history, Dame represents, as antagonists in this franchise generally do, a sociological contrast to the hero. Rocky was a small-time, working-class palooka whose rags-to-riches story is part grit and part dumb luck. His antagonists include the polished showman Apollo, the Soviet golden boy Drago, and Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black. “Clubber” is also the franchise’s nastiest villain, a fact highlighting an uncomfortable, much-noted racial dynamic running through all six films named for Rocky, every one of which depicts a Black champion humbled, beaten, or killed in the ring by a White challenger.”

          Please explain what sentence makes the statement “Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black” not mean ‘the main difference between Lang and Rocky is skin color’. I’m missing that one.

      • I think race is a ridiculous social construct but status, ethnicity, and appearance can make a real difference regarding opportunities .
        I hear “White ” people fussing about privilege and it’s true that the concept of White privilege is being utilized to divide our society and drive a certain political narrative. But on the other hand, if your ancestry is not African, Latin American, etc. would you have been hired for the job you hold now if if it was?

        • Of course. It’s applying a racial designator to a simple universal truth: those who are the majority in a given society typically have the advantage. Try living in Japan if you’re not Japanese. The same is true for living in China if you’re not Chinese and communist. Or Mexico if you’re not Mexican. Or India if you’re not Indian or Hindu. Or any Middle Eastern country if you’re not Arabic and Muslim. It’s a sad truth in this vale of tears, but it’s a universal truth. By making that truth in the US, a political experiment born of Anglo-Europeans in the 18th Century, purely about skin color makes it some unique racial condemnation. Which, I’d wager, is the goal.

          • You can actually do extremely well in Mexico even being an ethnic minority. Mexican citizens come in every variety. Carlos Slim is an example. But yes, there’s generally a status ladder in each society. The rungs just look a little different per culture.

        • mrscracker, of course. There are always exceptions. There are plenty of ethnic minorities and immigrants in our country who will live lives that many a modern native born American will never imagine. General rule though.

        • Of course I would have been hired. Want to know why? Because I didnt come from a broken home. I didnt get pregnant at 16. I didn’t drop out of school. I didn’t use drugs. I didn’t get arrested for dealing, assault, gang banging or having a gun. Like it or not these SOCIAL issues are the responsibility of each individual’s choices. Communities of color refuse to look at these issues or deal with them because its so much easier to blame someone else. Decades of affirmative action have made the whine about not being hired if you are a POC a total laughable farce. For a long time now, better qualified whites, white males in particular, have been at a disadvantage because of their color. This has been true since before the Bakke legal case in 1978 when a white student who finally sued the University of California because he was rejected multiple times in favor of less qualified applicants of color. Affirmative action was then declared illegal but the wheels on that bus are still turning.Racism is racism no matter WHO is the victim. Creating even more victims will not stop the problem.It will GROW the problem. Hiring on the basis of qualification will stop the problem. Its disturbing to think that lately the anti-white mantra has even invaded medical schools who now make this a point of reference, as if a doctor must now consider if your white color makes you less worthy to save.Even if your white family came here, as many did , well after 1900, and had nothing to do with slavery, etc. Now that airlinse have declared publicly ( United, et al.)they will hire PILOTS based on color and sex, NOT experience or qualifications, expect an awful lot of mass tragedies which could have been prevented. One recent near miss resulted in those airline crew members being sent back to school. Isn’t that charming? My final word: I have to reveal that I am white, and have friends who are of color. I also have RELATIVES of color that worked hard, did it right, live the American dream. Kudos to them, the hard working non-whiners. I come from a lower middle class background where neither parent attended college. My two brothers and I ALL finished public college, and two of us have post graduate degrees. ALL of us worked as teens. And know what?? NOBODY handed us a thing. Which is good, because I dont owe anyone anything, and I dont feel a bit guilty about WHO I am or WHERE I am. My advice to the whiners: earn your place!

          • Perhaps I should have asked instead: Did you risk being immediately rejected for a job solely because of your ethnicity or ancestry?

        • I dont know how old you are but you must be unaware of many elements of American immigration history. Do you know what happened during the heavy immigration period when Irish and Italians were immigrating here? Signs went up on store fronts saying “No Irish need apply”. And Italians, who frequently worked outside in construction or agricultural settings and thus often had darker skin than some Europeans, were routinely called the “N” word. So yes darling, being white isnt a free pass to ANYPLACE. Lots of us are rejected for many other reasons. Not enough education, too fat, sound uneducated when you speak, a history of being late and unreliable, whatever you want to say. And you may want to BLAME someone for your own failures. Because thats easier than examining yourself truthfully. But the reality is often that you lack the credentials. Period. I scratched around for more than a year as a young woman in a poor economy to get even a part time minimum wage job. My “whiteness” got me nothing and my family had no contacts to call upon. Thats real life, period. Nobody gets promised a rose garden. Racism?? Its a claim that after 60 years of affirmative action and set aside college quotas rings pretty hollow to the rest of us.

          • You’re absolutely correct. Those ethnicities could cause one to be immediately rejected for hiring in the past, but I was referring to more recent history.
            Avoiding bigotry through assimilation can be a great deal easier if you physically resemble those on the higher rung of society. My 2x’s great grandparents came to the US poor, half starved, & illiterate but one of their sons married into the Andrew Mellon family. Had his parents emigrated from Ghana in 1850 instead of Ireland it’s unlikely that scenario would have played out the same way.
            I don’t think anyone in the article or comments are disrespecting hard working blue-collar folk with European ancestry. Poor “White” men are a very underserved demographic in the US & studies in the UK show they’re the least likely group to receive a college education.
            As Christians we should all be aware & compassionate of each other’s struggles. It’s not a contest. I don’t like the idea of scoring victimhood points for social credits, but some people really do have things stacked against them differently than others.

        • A final story. A couple of years ago, a relative asked my black nephew ( who is now about 40 years old) if he had ever experienced discrimination. His answer: “never”. By the way, he is a professional and works in the medical field. No one ever prevented him from being educated or hired.

          That answer may or may not be a typical experience for someone who is of color. But the reality is, this is not 1930 and every white person is not a KKK member in disguise. Many of us are tired of being treated as though we are. In fact I would go so far as to say that the hate and discrimination which has been directed at whites over the last two years in particular, and continues in schools and workplaces, has set race relations back a generation. People dont like being blamed for crimes they have not committed. And none of this is good for the country.

          • I agree mostly. Race is a social construct in the first place and at this point in time it’s being selectively used to divide us in ways that are not good for our society.

            People have had different experiences with discrimination for sure. It’s not 1930 but I live in a part of the country where we still have 2 Catholic churches in each parish:one Black, one White. At this late point, the Black families are attached to their historic churches and aren’t about to give them up, which makes sense but it can still feel like a time warp.
            I believe that with each mixed marriage and each DNA test result revealing that few of us are 100% European, African, etc. we’ll move forward and put much of this behind us. I find it’s becoming more of a generational thing and young people don’t have the same prejudices. Thankfully.
            God bless !

      • Dave G., altogether, you have diverted the movie and its review from both its context and any meaningful paradigm. As a reader, for me Greydanus’ movie review stands on what it discusses in its details and frankness and in its own framing. You didn’t come close!

        • I find racism to be meaningful. Even if it’s of the sort that is sanctioned and promoted in our modern age by our society’s best and brightest. Of course, whenever a society endorses such things it’s our choice to go along or oppose them. We do well condemning those who made the wrong choices in the past. We would do better not becoming the same in the present. Plus, Deacon Greydanus is the one that brought it up.

        • Elias: My comment of 3/3/2023 posted by CWR on 3/6/2023 exposes the lack of objectivity and intentionally distorted picture provided by Greydanus to wrongly criticize Stallone. Also note in my comment how many important facts and details involving the 6 Rocky movies are not included in Greydanus’ article because they expose the lie of his objectively unjust narrative that you unfortunately find favor with.

          Also note that a critical reading of “Open Wide Our Hearts” demonstrates that it is written from the same biased mindset that wrongly sees many white people in general of having a racist bias that they may not be consciously aware of, and that systemic racism is alive and well. These malevolent claims have been completely debunked, yet like the “Covid virus came from a wet market” lie, these lies of “unconscious bias and ongoing systemic racism” made popular by the likes of gaslighter Robin DiAngelo continue to be spread even by members of the Church who should know better, but they have quaffed very deeply from the grail of the hideous anti-white narrative. Try not to get sucked in by reviewing objective data and works of real scholars like James McWhorter (“Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America”), Kathleen Brush (“America’s Discrimination Circus” and other similar books), Heather MacDonald (“The Diversity Delusion”), James Lindsay (“Race Marxism”) and Wilfred Reilly (“Taboo: Ten Facts You Can’t Talk About”).

  7. Greydanus I enjoyed reading your post March 8, 2023 at 9:51 am and finding the pastoral letter. The pastoral has a very sound orientation that seems to have eluded the hierarchy where I live. You brought out the best in the ramblings on this page, Deacon; thank you.

  8. Okay, Dave G, I’ll take you at your word, and offer straight answers to your questions and comments, which I hope and expect you offer in good faith and a willingness to learn.

    What is ‘white privilege’ but making a sweeping judgment against an entire ethnic group based on skin color? If that’s not racism I don’t know what is.

    In all sincerity and candor: You misunderstand the concept of White privilege. In particular, White privilege has nothing to do with the bogosity of so-called “White guilt.” “White guilt” is literally meaningless, except as a term for a subjective, pointless, nonveridical psychological state. (Some White people may “feel guilty” about being White or about racial injustice generally, but such feelings are meaningless and benefit no one.) There is no such thing as collective guilt; each person is responsible only for his own actions.

    That said, the Catechism explains how the sinful actions of many people cooperating with one another can lead to unjust social/cultural/structural situations that Catholic social thought calls “social sins.” “Social sins” are inherited by each new generation through no fault of their own, though people they respond to unjust situations may involve fault or merit. Systemic racism and White privilege are examples of such social situations. They are not sins in the literal sense, since they are not individual actions, but they are unjust situations created by sin and making certain kinds of sins easier to commit.

    For a place to start understanding White privilege and how it doesn’t entail “White guilt,” see Zero white guilt; this analogy to tallness privilege; and this response from a Black woman to her White friend.

    Second, I don’t consider my resistance to judging or condemning a group or individuals based on ethnicity or skin color to be grounded in a racist cultural matrix.

    Neither do I; you are quite right about that! It was the suggestion that White people are the new disadvantaged, marginalized members of society—the new Jews in Nazi Germany or Blacks in the Jim Crow South—rather than the advantaged members of society that I indicted on that ground.

    what choice did Stallone have, other than not be in his own movie?

    This is honestly a good question, and not easy to answer. I want to be clear that I haven’t accused Stallone of any racist intent, and I don’t think the Rocky films are intentionally racist. As a critic, I’m reluctant to offer alternative ideas for how a movie (or a franchise) could have gone, but I’ll throw out a couple of ideas, just as examples. One of the better moves in the Rocky films was turning Apollo Creed—who was unsympathetic in the original film, but never a villain—into an ally and trainer for Rocky. What if instead of Burgess Meredith Rocky had had a Black trainer in the original—perhaps a boxer with a checkered history with Apollo? That would have softened the White vs. Black dynamic from the outset. Again, one of the things I really liked about Creed II was how Ivan Drogo is ultimately at least semi-redeemed; he realizes that his relationship with his son is more important than his reputation in Russia. In a similar vein, one version of the script for Rocky Balboa brought back Clubber Lang as a born-again Christian, a very interesting idea. There are ways the character of Clubber Lang could have been handled in Rocky III (and/or Rocky IV, had they a mind to do so) that would not have played into the stereotype of the animalistic, sexually predatory, Black male criminal.

    Please explain what sentence makes the statement “Mr. T’s “Clubber” Lang, who is mainly different from Rocky, alas, in being Black” not mean ‘the main difference between Lang and Rocky is skin color’. I’m missing that one.

    Okay. The key phrase is “a sociological contrast to the hero.” In these sentences I’m talking about how the antagonists contrast with the hero sociologically—that is, with respect to demographic categories like socioeconomic background, education, race/ethnicity, current occupation and income/wealth (other sociological categories not relevant here include age, sex, religion, and marital status). So, for instance, in Creed III, had Adonis not been adopted by the wealthy Mary Anne Creed, he and Dame would have had nearly identical sociological profiles. My point is that Rocky, and later Adonis, are generally fighting people from a different background or with a different social status than themselves, and that these differences are part of the drama. Differences of personality and especially moral character can obviously be much more important than sociological differences, but they are not what I’m talking about here. Hope that helps.

    • Regarding those three articles you linked. I like the ones from Yes Magazine and Concord Monitor, and generally agree with the points you are trying to make in your post and comments here. But yesh, the one about tallness (whiteness) from Quora… And I say this as a person short enough to have gotten a depressing amount of crap for it: The person who wrote that is trying to be funny, but is instead coming off as a rude jerk who *actually* doesn’t like tall people and blames them, all of them, for the trouble they’ve had as a short person. I would be horrified at myself if I thought of tall people that way. I’m really sure that’s not the illustrative article you want to be using for this argument.

    • First, thank you for your response. You obviously spent time on it, and that’s not bad in our present age. I typically appreciate the discussions we’ve had over the years for that reason. It’s also why I belabor the point: I believe you’re better than falling into this mess.

      I will say it’s funny that you point to the Church’s teaching on social sins (also present in Protestant thought in various forms). When I was in seminary studying with Dr. Dave Gushee, that topic was a focal point for me. I understood the concept, but was always mindful of the ease with which it could be abused. Nothing shows I was correct more than modern applications of this idea.

      So White privilege. It is, again, racism. Consider your solution for Rocky. Replace white Burgess Meredith with a black actor because skin color. The idea that we can treat people in this group differently than people in that group, or give someone or take away from someone else, because of, but not limited to, skin color can’t be anything other than bigotry and racism. At least before the 2000s it would have been denounced as such – by American liberalism no less.

      Of course beyond the simple ‘sorry, you have the wrong skin color so you can’t have the part’, there is the backhanded racism that accompanies this. In our neck of the woods (Columbus, Ohio) for example, a year or so ago there was an elderly white man murdered by three black teens. Per the press reports, motives were unknown. I ask you honestly, if it was an elderly black man murdered by three white teens, do you really think anyone would be wondering about the motives? That, too, is an extension of the racism behind these concepts. It’s also why I put little stock in various ‘these groups are the real threat to our nation!’ stories. Sure, if you assume there are only certain groups whose group identity can be linked to a motive.

      Now, as for the idea that whites are somehow privileged from being white. To paraphrase Tevye (RIP Topol) – may the good Lord smite me with that privilege. Yes, the majority in most societies typically has the advantage in the most general sense. That’s called reality. But by slapping the skin color label on it, now it’s a matter of ethnicity and the all-important racial division, able to be used to judge or diminish with impunity. Not to mention the terrible idea that a 12 year old white girl born into poverty and abused by her father is the advantaged one, and a 12 year old black girl born to loving millionaire parents in Beverly Hills, attending the best schools from limos and private jets, is the disadvantaged one, and all because of skin color. It is naked racism, albeit of a brilliant sort (insert chef’s kiss here). And none of this includes the frequent exploitation or endless accusations of racism where none is, simply because ‘of course, racist! – it’s systemic after all.’

      I should also touch on the idea that whites are in no way falling under discrimination or other persecutory policies due to their skin color. I’m immediately reminded of the story a few years ago when two white girls working at a bakery turned away customers because it was past serving time. One of the customers, a black woman, yelled racism. The company then fired the girls. The tragedy of it? In its official press release, the company admitted there was nothing to suggest the girls acted with racial malice, or were doing anything other than following company policy. Nonetheless, to satiate the outrage owing to our racist nation, the girls were fired. Two girls scraping by, losing what little they had – purely because of their skin color and the skin colors involved. White hoods in 1920s Alabama are no more racist than that. Yet it fits perfectly within the sociological framework of ‘systemic racism’ and ‘white privilege’. Both of which can be brought in to justify such actions when convenient (and, in fact, were used in that case). Tell those two girls that there is no such thing as advantaged whites being discriminated against or somehow oppressed because of their ethnicity. And those two are hardly alone. There are boatloads of such stories, and not just about race (though oddly enough, they seldom make their way into MSM reports).

      I’ll be brutally honest; I don’t see how you can not see what is happening and the problems with this. And that’s not even touching on the premises upon which these ideas are based. I mean, the amount of credulity needed to believe that the BLM approach to race is some ‘best path to racial harmony’ is staggering. Though I seriously doubt racial harmony or social justice are the goals.

      And as I said before, none of this is mitigated by it being driven largely by white liberals (though I do note a growing number of non-whites warming up to the ideas). The fact that it is, as often as not, old white people, with their careers and professions safely in the rearview mirror, being fine with policies that ensure up and coming white people are sent to the margins to make way for social justice (a little trick I call proxy martyrdom) makes it even less impressive. I’d be more impressed if those established white liberals would step aside from their own careers and flip burgers so minorities could have their positions, and let merit drive the up-and-coming generations. Then again, I’d be more impressed if so many of our modern crusaders displayed more than a dime store righteousness more concerned with back patting than actually sacrificing for a cause. But that’s for another post.

  9. DocVerit, I am responding to your post above March 9, 2023 at 10:53am. I will follow your suggested reading plan because I have delved into some material and I want to see what could supplement my findings.

    I consider I have some insights into Rocky and as it happens they align with Greydanus’ own results!

    There are enough story strands and imagery in the things in the movie and in the franchise, described by Greydanus, that support his interpretation. I myself already acknowledged the objective situation of it so it’s not that I would be “taken in” by his approach.

    The “success brand” is ubiquitous in Hollywood movies and it is undeniable that the Rocky franchise deploys it with deliberate purpose and effect. It not just for decoration and mood effects, it is for energizing ideas in kinds of ethics, for legitimizing them at junctures and for advertising them acceptable.

    The Rocky franchise tells you clearly that minorities, the disaffected and the unique, etc., may proceed in the success brand. What is stressed over and over is the canonizing of the brand in the “survivors”, the victors.

    In it’s mentoring designs it can be called reverse privilege. The audiences of today are very familiar with this in both dimensions -art and work- and so the audiences themselves will recognize it in this franchise.

    In other words Greydanus is only bringing out what everyone knows to be present noticing where the tracks lead or what all the contention is.

    Dramatic elements become ancillary: the emotional-cultural matrix, the (pseudo-)patriotic get-up brought to apotheosis, the distinct sense that such ones are “the beloved of the fathers” doing what they had to, to get there. Take a look at Paul Newman in “Somebody up there likes me”.

    Some have boasted about art imitating life. It’s a misleading or digressive figuration. The reality is that parts of Hollywood operate to define life and perception; and the success brand has always had a particular favour along with styles of mentoring.

    They admit to this defining life and perception here and there, as in the series Mannix; but it’s quite obvious that well before Mannix they were casting real individuals in what they saw as their personality types, to role types; eg., Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen. Back to Paul Newman aforementioned.

    Integrations-as-art: Hollywood takes business very seriously no matter how low-grade the approach. It doesn’t always work well. It is definitely part of the repeats in the Rocky series, where it is bringing in some money and where Stallone has built up a persona-profile of importance to him and others.

    Nevertheless many of those who will watch Rocky etc., will do it purely for the entertainment and will come out saying, all the same, “Take your hand off my shoulder.” Or, some say, “Yo, Sly, I don’t owe you one over there.”

    • Elias:

      Wow. You skipped over all of the specific points I made that counter Greydanus’ narrative, and so you do not mention any of them. So be it, but unless you honestly assess my direct counterpoints to show why Greydanus’ accusations are false and leave out important details, all you are doing is also ignoring the complete picture to support Greydanus by claiming there are enough things in the Rocky movies he presents that support his biased interpretation.

      Imagine that you are accused of racism in one form or another by Mr. G, but Mr. G only presents a few things and distorts some of them to boot to make you look guilty. You rightly point out many more facts and essential details that counter Mr. G’s accusations, and you note that such were ignored by person G, which is unjust, and so you have been wrongly accused by Mr. G. However, Mr. El comes along and says you are absolutely guilty of racism because the one-sided, distorted, and incomplete picture presented by Mr. G is good enough for him. Would you be fine with that conclusion by Mr. El and support Mr. G’s accusations because the complete picture that exonerates you is not important after all? It’s what you’ve done here in supporting Greydanus’ incomplete and unjust accusations against Stallone and the Rocky movies.

      • Very patient! I thought you’d take my offering in good stride and indeed, you did; and I can explain why. Good luck!

        A broader type of analysis rather than your specified points makes sense to me because of 1. the artistic nature of the subject, 2. the contents provided in the film and franchise and 3. Greydanus’ outline. These items permit a ranging survey and also they are best treated – I think – on that scale.

        In other words, a partitioned approach like yours will necessarily be incomplete and disruptive.

        Greydanus did his own type of in-depth which throws up so many points of intersection with my approach, i.e., the correspondence between his way and mine are complemented and I thought it would invite your reconsideration.

        Then too I haven’t yet read the articles you flagged and I imagine it would be best to delay in that area accordingly; however, in all honesty, I surmise privately in advance but without saying so before now, that my point about reverse privilege has already settled the issue.

        Actually one critic said that the final fight in Creed III was pointless, they could’ve just talked it through; and so the movie proves to be disappointing anti-climax glib. (Greydanus was more accommodating on it.) Yet this lends to my side again, it would still support my view that the script writers skew to the sensational while yet that can sometimes miss the mark.

        Yes and I chose to focus on the artistic and downsize the religious, because, the former, dealt with properly, gets confirmed on its own merits.

        • One more try, Elias:

          It is I who call for the broader approach in direct contradiction to Greydanus’ limited, cherry-picked, and distorted focus in order to wrongly accuse Stallone of some racism, which violates basic Catholic morality in doing so without sufficient evidence, and, as pointed out by me and others, Greydanus does not have sufficient evidence, but instead relies primarily on the reprehensible “most white people are racists in some respects even if they don’t know it,” and that “systemic racism is alive and well today” hideous narrative (debunked) to render his unjust claims against Stallone.

          When you write that “a partitioned approach like yours will necessarily be incomplete and disruptive,” incompleteness is what actually applies to Greydanus regarding the racism issue, not to me, so you have this entirely backwards. I have no idea what you mean by ‘disruptive’ as it appears to be a non-sequitur would-be pejorative. In any case, also note that whenever anyone writes on a topic, and they raise several issues in their writing, it is legitimate to challenge them on any one issue while bypassing other issues that have no application to the disputed issue. This is not a wrongful partition as you would have it, but, again, a wrongful partition is the sole possession of Greydanus because he makes unjust accusations of racism authored by Stallone while purposely refusing to consider all relevant factors in making his unjust accusations (i.e. partitioning off relevant factors because they would weaken his unjust accusations. Withholding such information is egregiously immoral for what should be obvious reasons, yet this is what Greydanus has done, and, sadly, you approve of this immoral approach).

          Alas, methinks you love to drink the same biased Kool-aid that Greydanus drinks, and so this prevents you, like him, from looking at the complete picture to avoid jumping to the unjust conclusion that Stallone is guilty of some racism in his Rocky movies. You gullibly accept the things Greydanus mentions and the spin he puts on them without question, but you completely ignore all of those elements featured in the Rocky movies that give the lie to Greydanus’ false claims. Again, this is simply unjust and tantamount to accepting a prosecutor’s case against X while purposely ignoring X’s defense. In short, an offensively immoral kangaroo court.

          Lastly, the dispute with Greydanus that I and others commenting in CWR have is indeed focused primarily on his unjust accusations of racism he attributes to the Rocky movies, yet you keep wandering into things like sensationalism and other aspects in the Greydanus review that are irrelevant to my critical comments and the critical comments of others like Dave G. and LG who also apply sound moral principles in rightly challenging the Greydanus unjust narrative regarding racism.

  10. Audiences of different categories are already making the interpretations about the race element, the privilege, the sensationalism, the success brand, the fate aspect, etc., etc. That would be in local groups like mine, on-line and among the “official” critics; and, it would be fair to say, including Greydanus as audience and myself. Many of them will do their background reading for fun or whatever and discover that the ideas are shared in a widespread feeling. It’s inescapable. That is simply the nature of the industry.

    Actually then it is not as if those viewpoints and “appreciations” are entirely confined to here. And it is only natural to always consider the audience.

    But I can also say that, if, in a case as this, we are obliged to confine interpretation/appreciation to one theme and set of insights, eg., that lines up with James Lindsay, say; it will still be arguable! Then again what we often see with certain critics is that they themselves do not define in an explicit way what it is they would want set down as the authentic rubric.

    So right now they are mulling over how to continue the franchise down through the 2 paths, the Rocky one and the Creed one. This would explain why Stallone is absent in Creed III but is advising it nonetheless. I am going to refrain from further input that might suggest more bad ideas to them; and I will leave it be and wait to see what they decide they will be presenting next.

    • That various groups are making it about race doesn’t make it any less problematic. The idea that we can make a judgement about someone because of skin color and it isn’t naked racism is not true. In fact, it explains why so many found racism and other forms of bigotry in the past so easy.

      So here. Deacon Greydanus insisted he wasn’t accusing Stallone of racism. To be honest, it would be better if he was. If a person falsely accused a black man of something bad just because he was black, that would be an major issue. If, however, he was content with saying the problem is simply that he is black, now we’re into deep, dark racism. Scratch out black and change it to white and it shouldn’t suddenly be acceptable.

      And that was the thing here. The only reason there is a “problem” with the movies in terms of race is that Stallone wrote the part for himself, a white man. Had Stallone not been white – given the left’s modern bigoted and deeply flawed template – there would have been no problem. Or, as Deacon Greydanus suggested, if we just scrubbed some of the white actors and replaced them with blacks, that might have helped.

      But just think on that. Think real, real, real hard. Suddenly the problem is once again skin color. The wrong skin colors. As if we never heard that before. And don’t say you can justify it. Again, as if the bigotries of the past weren’t espoused by people who believed they were just as justified as we’re seeing now.

      Remember, it doesn’t stop being racism, and therefore evil, simply because the people at the best parties in the biggest houses say it isn’t. In fact, if history has anything to say, that might just be when you start sweating if you are on their side.

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