Tag Archives: Rocky

Rocky: Not My Hero Posted by Maxine Elizabeth Whitney

“When they’re cheering for Rocky, they’re cheering for themselves” – Sylvester Stallone

Many movie buffs and locals to the city of Philadelphia would argue that Rocky is one of the most influential and inspiring fictional icons in the history of American media. He is an average, middle class white American who is given an impossible task. He takes it on without fear to show that he is not just an average joe because of where he comes from. He is a symbol for masculinity, self-respect, and and drive that all people in his place can look up to. In his piece Reaffirming Tradition Values, Daniel J Leab explains that the reason Rocky got as much praise and appreciation as it did is because it mimicked the mood and the important aspects of 1970’s America. As written by Leab, “the film touched “a live nerve with the public,” as Frank Rich put it. American audiences, influenced by the bicentennial’s strong emphasis on the validity of the American Dream, had lost interest in downbeat themes, in bleak reality, in attacks on old-fashioned values- all subjects which as films of one sort or another had recently done well at the box office” (Leab, 269). Rocky showed middle class America that they can put up a fight against bigger powers and make a name for themselves no matter their background. This is what 1970’s America needed, to see that there is hope for those in a similar position, who until then felt hopeless.

However, does Rocky really deserve the icon status he has gained? I understand that I was not alive during that time and I may not understand the struggle or feel the connection that so many American’s had to him. However, its my outside, modern perspective that will allow me to make the unbiased critiques. First of all, its frustrating to me that the embodiment of the 1970’s American dream has to be a fighter. I understand its symbolic, I understand that if you get knocked down you have to get back up, but I would never idolize someone who could make 150,000 dollars for knocking someone out. I don’t think for a second that that is a realistic standard for the American dream. He did not even really do much to earn the opportunity to win that money. Someone found him and picked a fight with him. That’s not working to achieve a goal, that’s being handed an opportunity and working not to waste it. Not all Americans are going to be put in that situation.

However, I do see that his story is one that was heavily connected to what people were feeling at the time, and that’s something I will probably never be able to fully understand. However, I think my main frustration and the cause for my ranting is that I think a majority of the people who idolize him in present times may not be critically analyzing the film. In fact, I was one of those people before I actually watched it. In addition to my realization about his false American dream image, the racist and sexist under-themes are frustrating and make it hard for me to see him the same way. I think this is why he has maintained his iconic status even beyond the time period where he was most relevant. People don’t watch the film with the intention to critique, hence he stays relevant because he is a tough guy who beats his odds. Since this kind of character is much more popular in modern times, I am rejecting it. I say no more to the strong, violent male character who does more than he thinks he can. Where my girls at?

Works Cited

Leab, Daniel J. “Reaffirming Traditional Values The Blue Collar Ethnic in Bicentennial America: Rocky.” Hollywood’s America: Twentieth-Century America Through Film. Ed. Steven Mintz and Randy Roberts. N.p.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 264-71. Print.

The first picture : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Balboa

The second picture: http://totalrocky.com/the-films/rocky-iii-1982/photo-gallery

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Rocky, Symbol of a City by William Kowalik

WK1Rocky is much more than an iconic film in American culture. Rocky is representative and encyclopedic of a particular time and place. Rocky, the character and Rocky the movie are inextricably linked to the City of Philadelphia. I think few films have such a deep connection to a specific place, as does Rocky.

Philadelphia is much more than the setting of the Rocky (and Creed) franchise; it is an integral part of the movies that blurs plot and setting. In the case of Rocky, they’ve very much one and the same.

Philadelphia is Rocky. Rocky is Philadelphia.

wk2Not to mention Philadelphia’s long and storied legacy of boxing plays into the story. Much as the architecture of Frank Furness spoke to the industrial city of Philadelphia, melding the industrial with the beautiful. Rocky speaks to post-industrial Philadelphia. Rocky, like the city itself is down own his luck, but still trying to make something of himself, up against, and in the shadow of those better than him. Rocky puts up a good fight against Apollo Creed, but still ultimately loses. Philadelphia a once great city has long lagged behind its main competition New York in many ways for over two hundred years, but has slowly found its niche. “Stallone hit at the core of the matter in his comments on audience response to the film: ‘when they’re cheering for Rocky, they’re cheering for themselves’” (Leab 271).

In his chapter on “The Blue Collar Ethnic in Bicentennial America”, historian Daniel Leab uses Rocky as his example.  Leab’s picture of life in the 1970’s–particularly urban life in the 1970s, as a gloomy era when everything looked to be hopeless is part of the “Rocky narrative”, however, peaking through this darkness is some form of the American dream, some will to triumph and overcome. This same attitude is one that Philadelphia experienced during this time, coming to a very dark place at the time of Rocky, and then slowly rising up from that depression. In just the last census, conducted in 2010, Philadelphia five-decade population decline began to reverse. “Rocky’s life is bleak. He seems to have no future” (Leab 265).  Despite the darkness in the film, critics and viewers see Rocky as “optimistic, idealistic, and sentimental” (Leab 269).

The character of Rocky Balboa is flawed and multidimensional, despite that the fact that he might not seem so at first look. Issues related particular to race, racism, and sexism, which in itself is an entire topic to delve into, but would be inappropriate not to mention. Especially given Rocky’s clear and specific depiction as an Ethnic White, the film’s relationship to Philadelphia, where race has long been a heated and difficult topic.

WK3There’s a certain self deprecation and criticism from the community. Several individuals throughout the film call Rocky a bum. He ardently denies this claim. A marketing push for Philadelphia on billboards in the 1970s, which certainly didn’t speak well for the city, touted: “Philadelphia isn’t as bad as Philadelphians say it is”.

Rocky is a symbol of the city, this city, Philadelphia. But he is a symbol of this city at a very defined moment in its history. The once great industrial city, fallen and down. While Philadelphia has come back strong in many areas—a leader in healthcare, education, and culture, with a thriving tourism industry—where in fact tourists marvel in the sights of our nation’s founding, and make the trip up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to, run, climb or walk the seventy-few steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Visit Philadelphia proudly declares that in 2011, the steps were named the second most famous filming location in the world, second only to Grand Central Terminal in New York. At the same time, few tourists will venture away from Center City to experience the rest of Philadelphia; where over a quarter of city lives in poverty. The gritty image of the city, has sold well, and continues to do so. Five months after Rocky was released, they had earned over $50 million. And on top of that, Rocky still earns money (Leab 268). Even though much of the city has changed from the time of Rocky in 1976. Many Philadelphians still have a bleak future, and still live like Rocky. This further emphasizes that Rocky is not exclusively a snapshot of one place and one time, but part of the narrative of city; it’s not the story (or just the story) of a boxer, of a man; it is the city.

Sources

Leab, Daniel. “Reaffirming Traditional Values: The Blue Collar Worker in Bicentennial America: Rocky.” Hollywood’s America: Twentieth Century America Through Film. Ed. Steven Mintz and Randy Roberts. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 264-71. Print.

Eakins, Thomas. Between Rounds. 1899. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Rocky Statue: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/99/b9/85/99b985cf1dda1bf40cc294e7b75de9bb.jpg

Philadelphia Billboard: http://ilovebricks.blogspot.com/2011/05/philadelphia-isnt-as-bad-as.html

 

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Rocky and the Global Common Man’s Resonance by Samantha Smyth

stamplRocky’s resonance through the ages is paralleled by few other films. The rough and tumble Philadelphia boy seems to be the pinnacle of icons for the down-and-out, the under-achieved, under-represented, the gritty real people, whose lives aren’t glossy like Good Housekeeping covers depict. Rocky plucked himself out of obscurity and, quite literally, fought his way to the top (only after a humbling loss in Rocky I). He is the every-man’s underdog. He’s a dim-witted, fourth-rate, club fighter with no particular distinction, but he manages to embody optimism and courage (Leab, 265).

The reason for Rocky’s resonance beyond a bicentennial United States icon is to do with his relatability. As such, his image has been lifted and utilized many times, in many countries, making the Italian Stallion more than just an American idol but also an international icon.

Stamp collectors had the opportunity to enjoy the mangled-up Stallone face on 5 sets of limited edition stamps released in 1996 bringing fact to Rocky’s own line: “Yo, is this a face you can trust? Someday, they’ll put this face on a stamp.”

The fact that Rocky’s face was lifted for the 5 countries (Ghana, The Gambia, Uganda, St. Vincent and Grenadines, and Grenada) was explained as: “Rocky Balboa stands for the average guy who wants to lead a decent life and be the best he or she can be. The Philadelphia club boxer symbolizes everyone who has at anytime in their life been faced with seemingly impossible obstacles and yet refused to just give up” (Daniel Keren, Total Rocky). Each country felt an affinity for the man who nearly won, and each country boasts “more Rocky fans than America,” according to the article published on Total Rocky.

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In 2007, Serbian city Žitište erected a statue dedicated to the fighter. The subject of a documentary, Amerika Idol by Barry Avrich, the statue was revealed to be the hope of the city to counteract the misfortunes of the past 4000 years. The statue is thought to bring “inspiration,” and “tourism dollars,” as reviewer Robert Bell points out. Bell also states that the residents believe Rocky will be a good role model for the youth and also stands as the “universal representation of the underdog.” Rocky as the symbol of luck, a waypoint for wayward youth, and the ultimate underdog has been utilized by town.

“WON’T BE DEFEATED”Ne Jamais

“When they’re cheering for Rocky, they’re cheering for themselves,” seems to be the most apt description of Rocky uttered by the man himself Sylvester Stallone (Leab, 271). It’s Rocky’s ability to appeal to the every-man that makes him so relatable. He stands for the underdog and embodies the emotions of courage, bravery, and pluck (which we could all use a bit of sometimes). As such, Rocky’s image has become the symbol of fight, of determination, and of strength in the face of adversity.

So, why Rocky? Because he’s every man, every person, the common man… he’s one of us. His appeal crosses borders, but his message remains the same. Go get it, and don’t give up.

Sources:

Daniel Leab, “Reaffirming Traditional Values,” Hollywood’s America.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1347302/

http://totalrocky.com/articles/five-nations-honor-stallone.html

http://exclaim.ca/film/article/amerika_idol_true_story-directed_by_barry_avrich

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Rocky: The Quintessential Philadelphian Story by Keira Wingert

C4SD4Ti2EsiqHj3x34QPUv8UAs a Philadelphian, one of my best kept secrets to date was that I had never seen the movie Rocky. This movie has become an icon not only to Philadelphia but also to the world, spurring hundreds of thousands of people to flock to the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps and run to the top or pose beside the hulking Rocky Balboa statue at the base of the steps. I always felt ashamed that I never watched the iconic film before, but I figured I didn’t have to; growing up here, I was told the Rocky story dozens of times without ever actually having to see the movie itself. I knew about Apollo Creed, Adrian, Mickey, and Paulie, and I had performed the film’s punchy, upbeat score in my elementary school orchestra. I was familiar with all the iconic lines (“Yo, Adrian!”), the major plot points, and the iconic still image of Rocky at the top of the PMA steps. But one thing I never understood is why the low-budget movie starring an unknown actor Rocky became such an important part of Philadelphia’s culture. After all, it’s certainly not the only film that takes place in Philadelphia (need I mention the film literally named Philadelphia?). So why did Rocky become thefilm set in Philly? Recently, I was forced to watch Rocky finally, after 22 years of somehow avoiding it, and I came to a better understanding of Philadelphia’s connection to the film. This film represents the city and its people in a way that is realistic, not dolled up to conform to typical, fabulous Hollywood representations of big cities. Philadelphia is known for its grit and hardworking attitude, and that is exactly how the city and its people are represented in Rocky.

Philadelphia has a reputation among other cities as being a bit…rough. This is the city whose sports fans have a penchant for throwing things at people they don’t like, including, but not limited to, the poor Santa Claus who was booed and pelted with snowballs at an Eagles game back in 1968—a story that despite having happened over 40 years ago has somehow remained a defining part of this city’s lore. It’s the city that (unsurprisingly) beheaded the adorable hitchhiking robot whose journey was supposed to represent human kindness and togetherness. Five years ago, Philly was named the 2nd Dirtiest City in the country, beating out Los Angeles, Memphis, and New York. (New York!! Have the people who made that decision ever even been to New York? It’s disgusting!! And they expect us to believe that we’re actually worse than that?!). We don’t have a great reputation—and yet, we’re completely unfazed by the way the world sees us. We’re pretty content just doing our own thing. That’s the Philadelphia represented inRocky.

The Rocky character himself represents Philadelphia perfectly. In this film, Rocky Balboa is a lovably ordinary character. He is a working class guy who lives in a tiny, unattractive apartment. He is apparently uneducated and boxes for a meager living—though he also works as a loan shark’s muscle to make ends meet. He has two turtles and a fish, all of whom he greets as friends when he comes home in the evening. He has a painfully awkward crush on an even more painfully awkward woman, Adrian. When we first meet him, Rocky doesn’t seem like the type of person to seek out greatness; rather, he seems largely content with the life he has. For Rocky, winning isn’t everything. He is completely ordinary—that is, until he is handed a great opportunity. That’s when we see Rocky begin to change from the modest working-class citizen to the great Philadelphia icon he is today.

The environments in which Rocky exists also represent his journey to greatness. In this film, director John Avildsen clearly made deliberate choices regarding the shooting locations in Rocky and what they represented in the character’s journey. Nearly every outdoor scene at the beginning of the film takes place in an industrial setting—ships float in the background, trains clatter by, water towers loom over the residents of the city. Trash is scattered on the ground. The color palette is bleak and hazy, and frankly, it could not be more representative of the more working-class or poor areas in the actual city of Philadelphia, as well as the meager beginnings of the Rocky character. As Rocky trains, we literally see him move from these more modest areas of Philadelphia—the dirty streets of South Philly and the bustling, working-class Italian Market—toward the more grandiose locations in the city, like the ornately designed City Hall and the beautiful Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The range of activities in which Rocky partakes—from feeding his turtles in his tiny apartment to climbing the daunting steps of the PMA—represents exactly the type of hardworking, ordinary people living in Philadelphia. He is content with his ordinary life, but he is capable of greatness, just like Philadelphia is. Rocky is a film that represents the both the everyday activities and the greatest triumphs of which a city like Philly is capable, and that is why it has become the essential cultural icon to represent us.

References

Chartoff, R., & Winkler, I. (Producers), & Avildsen, J. (Director). (1976). Rocky [Motion picture]. United States:  United Artists.

Leab, D. “Reaffirming Traditional Values – The Blue Collar Ethnic in Bicentennial America:  Rocky.” In Mintz, S. & Roberts, R. (Eds.), Hollywood’s America:  Twentieth-Century America Through Film (p. 264-71). Hoboken:  Wiley-Blackwell.

Leopold, T. 4 Aug. 2015. HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot, gets beheaded in Philadelphia. CNN. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/us/hitchbot-robot-beheaded-philadelphia-feat/

14 June 2011. Interaction:  Is Philadelphia 2nd Dirtiest City? 6ABC Action News. Retrieved fromhttp://6abc.com/archive/8189374/

4 May 2010. 9 Terrible Philly Fan Incidents…And Their Harmless Explanations. Sports Pickle. Retrieved fromhttp://www.sportspickle.com/2010/05/9-terrible-philly-fan-incidents-and-their-harmless-explanations

 

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You Can’t Sit With Us! by Annmarie B Persico

A princess, a boxer, a Phanatic, and a statesman are sitting in a bar eating cheesesteaks and soft pretzels having a Philadelphia Icons party with me.  In walks Edgar Allen Poe…

This pretty much defines how I feel about Edgar Allen Poe as a Philadelphia Icon.

A “City of Neighborhoods”

Yes we are the “City of Brotherly Love” but as a resident Philadelphian I adhere firmly to the belief that we are a “City of Neighborhoods” and Poe does not check all of my “You’re a Philadelphia Icon if” boxes mostly because he isn’t from a neighborhood. He lived here for 6 years and wrote some major pieces of work here, he is undeniably a Literary Icon but as far as I’m concerned Baltimore can have him. I’ve made the argument in class that Poe was using Philadelphia as a launching pad into greatness (aren’t all Philadelphians) but that fact of the matter is he didn’t even live in a section of Philadelphia that was Philadelphia yet.

“Many of the current neighborhoods around Philadelphia existed as separate boroughs, districts and townships in the County of Philadelphia before absorption into the city via the 1854 Act of Consolidation. Before consolidation, Philadelphia’s city boundaries extended only as far as William Penn’s original plan, from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill and from Vine to South Streets.”  Poe’s neighborhood didn’t even make the cut. “Consolidation brought into the city neighborhoods such as historic Germantown in the northwest, formally founded one year before William Penn’s arrival, and the Spring Garden community on the city’s northwest edge.”

Ben said it best, if you’re from the city and you meet someone from the city the first thing you asked is where did you grow up? And if the answer isn’t a neighborhood than you are probably going to doubt their Philadelphia-ness.

“Implicit in the “City of Neighborhoods” dynamic is the intense pride Philadelphians hold about the distinct residential areas comprising this city. Philadelphians love their city but they particularly love those sections of their city where they were born, raised and in many instances continue to live.”

Strike 1 Mr. Poe.

Exposure to your Home-City Icons

When born and raised in a city as wonderful as Philadelphia you are exposed at quite a young age to some ritualistic pilgrimages to places where icons walked and lived. Who didn’t go to the Betsy Ross house, the Franklin Institute, the Art Museum, or a Philadelphia sports game at least once during their Philadelphia childhood? If you aren’t making these pilgrimages yourself, then you are at least schooled in knowing when and where significant events in Philadelphia Icons lives happened.

I’m 25 years old and didn’t even know the Poe House existed in Philadelphia.

Now we can maybe blame that one on a sheltered childhood, or a lack of parental interest in exposing me to Philadelphia Icons properly but I’ve known where Grace Kelly lived, went to high school, and got married since I was 5. My sister changed her parish to get married at the same church as her even though she will never admit it.  I knew Rocky ran up those steps since forever. And I certainly knew that the founding fathers were hanging out writing the Declaration of Independence in our fair city from a young age too.

*Side-note- Poe is definitely a literary Icon and my mom was an English literature major and still didn’t find the need to make me aware of “his” house.

Strike 2 Mr. Poe.

It’s my Party

Grace Kelly, East Falls. Rocky Balboa, South Philly. The Phillie Phanatic, South Philly. Bejamin Franklin, it doesn’t matter he harnessed electricity and was a founding father but we will give him Old City. I could offer my own personal Roxborough Icons that no one would know; mostly because they’re neighborhood people who grew up in and impacted my community while eating Wawa Hoagies and Deli’s cheesesteaks twice a week but I’ll just stick to my claims based on neighborhood pride and exposure to his story that Poe just can’t sit with MY Philadelphia Icons.  Sure it’s a little Mean Girls of me, but who better than a Philadelphian to decide who makes the cut. Not everyone can be from Philadelphia- but my Philadelphia pride just couldn’t take the blow of admitting him to my Icons party.

Strike 3 Mr. Poe

 

 

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-latest/35592-philadelphia-the-city-of-neighborhoods

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The Poe House and America’s Underdogs by Nicole Thomas

In visiting the Poe house, I found myself most excited to go into the cellar. I saved the cellar for last, and when I got there, I found it to be satisfyingly creepy, but I wasn’t scared, I was fascinated. I found it interesting that the Park Service did not clean the cobwebs on the ceiling. These cobwebs acted as a natural decoration of the cellar and added to that creepy feeling one gets when they think of Poe, especially in the dark cellar where he once lived. The empty house leaves everything up to the imagination, and as someone who is familiar with Poe, the emptiness of the house is the best part. In the podcast of The Great Poe Debate, Paul Lewis, the representative from Boston said something very interesting that really hit the nail on the head: “No city can claim Poe. He is a figure of world literature” (33:46). Poe’s works are so popular around the world, and if he was alive today, I don’t think he would want us to credit his legacy to a certain city. Poe gave his legacy to us, his readers through his mystifying works. Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore should be honored to have been a part of his journey in fascinating and captivating the entire world. Those three cities in particular have an intimate connection with Poe, and should feel lucky to have that connection. Without Poe’s works, The Poe House in Philadelphia would just be an empty house.

In The Great Poe Debate audio, in his opening statement, Paul Lewis (Boston) jokingly says “We know how badly underdogs do in American society”, and then shortly after, Philadelphian Ed Pettit is introduced. Pettit comes on stage accompanied by “Gonna Fly Now” the iconic theme song from Rocky. This made me laugh, and then I found myself realizing that Edgar Allan Poe and Rocky Balboa are very similar. Who would have thought that one of the best writers in the world has something in common with a fictional, Philadelphia native boxing icon? Like Rocky, Poe was just a poor underdog, looking to find his way in the world. Then I began thinking about all the Rosie’s, Wonder Woman, Cowboys in Westerns, the Migrant Mother, even John Henry. So many of America’s icons began at the bottom and rose up from the ashes. They were all underdogs, and we love them for it. There is something so satisfying and rewarding to America about the idea of the underdog. Can this be because America itself started out as an underdog? As a country we have been through so many hardships:  The Industrial Revolution (John Henry), The Civil War (Betsy Ross), Migrating West, The Great Depression (Migrant Mother), The Populist Era (The Wizard of Oz), World War 2 (Rosie the Riveter/Wonder Woman), and we made it through all of them. We fought our Apollo Creed’s (Rocky) and our contemptible publishers (Poe) and we made it out alive (for the most part).

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A Yinzer: The Most Unconventional Philadelphia Icon There Ever Was by Elizabeth Yazvac

I wanted to like Rocky. I really tried to get into the film, and to feel inspired as he punched meat and jogged around in gray sweats to instantly recognizable themepittsburghese music. I understand the underdog story, and its appeal (especially in the context of the film’s release coinciding with the country’s bicentennial), but, in the end, Rocky was just… okay.

I went into the movie thinking that I was already at a disadvantage being a yinzer. A yinzer is a stereotypical Pittsburgh native, and I believe that a lot of Rocky’s appeal comes from the classic shots of Philadelphia, and the embodiment of the struggle of “ethnic white” and lower-middle class Philadelphians. I assumed that, by my resident alien status in this city, this was something I was just not going to be able to understand. (Like, for example, the term water ice. If it’s ice, then obviously it is water… )

But after watching the movie and reading the Leab article, especially the sections about the struggle of the ethnic white class, I was struck by the similarities between the quintessential Philadelphian and the yinzer. A yinzer may be hard to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced their, shall we say, charm. I highly recommend watching a few Pittsburgh Dad videos on YouTube to fully immerse yourself in yinzer culture, but, generally speaking, a yinzer is a blue collar worker who speaks with a heavy Pittsburghese accent, bleeds black and gold, loves Donnie Iris (pronounced Dawny Arrris) and puts french fries on everything (see attached image of a “salad” featuring fried buffalo chicken tenders and fries, YUM!, my kind of salad!!). Yinzer takes on an almost pejorative meaning, portraying the idea that these Pittsburgh people lack sophistication, that the off-brand pop they drink and their rundown row homes in the Pittsburgh hills are indicators of their lesser social status. But the rundown row homes are not exclusive to Pittsburgh. In fact, Leab discusses the similarities between many ethnic neighborhoods – “tiny front yard”, “neat but worn furniture”, chintz lamps.

salad

The similarities between a Yinzer and a Philadelphian like Rocky are striking, at least in terms of their lifestyles and economic struggles. No, the comparison doesn’t hold up when the Pens play the Flyers or the Wawas turn into Sheetz on the Turnpike but what’s important are the shared beliefs in making an honest living. The working class spirit is essential to both the yinzer and to Rocky. Both of the groups feel a connection to the American Dream, and both groups were influenced by the bicentennial and the subsequent revival of entrepreneurial spirit and patriotism.

A yinzer is certainly an icon. It has a graphic component (wave a Terrible Towel in the air, drink an Iron City Beer, and put a folding chair with a Pirates “P” emblazoned on it on the side of the road to reserve your tailgate parking spot), which is key to any icon. As Kemp defines an icon, “it has widespread recognizability” and it can move across space and time. A yinzer seems permanently stuck in 1994, clad in a black and gold Starter windbreaker, but that image resonates just as strongly now as it did then. And, in this blog, I have tried to make the argument that a yinzer can also travel through space into Philadelphia. Because what makes a yinzer truly iconic is not a sports team alliances but a spirit that never waivers, even under economic hardship. And this spirit is shared by Rocky, Rocky fans, and the people who live in the City of Brotherly Love.

kroll show

Imagining Rocky as a yinzer rather than an Italian south Philadelphian, and I start to see more of his appeal. An underdog story always resonates with audiences, but an underdog from your hometown who embodies your very personal story is incredibly empowering. And this speaks to the versatility of Rocky, as well as the versatility of the yinzer.

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In the Shadow of Rocky by Meredith L Pymer

If you are not familiar with the 2006 movie, Invicible, I would start off with its trailer which can be viewed via this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BF7EqnYvuGw

While Rocky was debuting on the big screen in November of 1976, Philadelphians were watching the real rag to riches story come true on the Eagles’ football field. Vince Papale, a thirty-year-old teacher at the time, became a wide receiver and member of special teams for the Philadelphia Eagles. Papale was the oldest rookie, excluding kickers, in the history of the NFL to play professionally without having a college football career. In many ways the ordinary Philadelphian boxer being portrayed in theaters, embodied the new rookie of the Eagles, even gaining the nickname ‘Rocky’. Rocky and Papale even shared the same age, both in their 30s, and considered out of their prime for physical competition.

By 2006, Papale’s story was told on the big screen. Invincible, set in 1976, retold Papale’s story and shared many aspects that could also be found in Rocky. For example both stories embody the chaos during the 1970s as well as take place in South Philadelphia (I included an image of a typical Philly doorstep in Invincible and immediately was like “That’s so Rocky”). Rocky portrayed the scandals of Watergate, the War in Vietnam, the Oil Crisis and Affirmative Action in the distance, typical of the historical time period.

However, Invincible takes up issues of unemployment. Papale actually looses his job within the movie, a teacher turned bartender, and even deals with his wife leaving him, disgusted of his professional failures… Sound familiar? While watching TV it is broadcasted that the Eagles will be holding open tryouts. This eventually leads to Papale gaining a spot on the team, hence the rag to riches mentality that reflects the movie Rocky.  The movie even goes to imitate a special moment where Rocky remarks that the Bicentennial poster doesn’t depict the actual shorts he is wearing. Mr. Jergens responds that it doesn’t really matter. Similar to Rocky, Paple remarks that his name is spelled wrong on his Eagles’ locker. The equipment manager tells him, “Nothing personal, but is it really going to matter.”

Personally, I prefer the Papale’s version of the rag to riches commentary, that you too can have the American Dream. However, I would have to argue that Papale himself is not an American icon, which leads me to wonder why isn’t he? I think the icons are strongly embedded into our culture when a sense of myth or anonymity comes into play. Rocky isn’t an actual person, he is fictional, and like Barbie is fluid enough in his identity that Rocky can embody everyone. Unlike Papale who has a face and an actual real life story to tell, Rocky is a figment of our imagination. Even you can run the Art Museum stairs, turn back towards the city and for that moment feel a sense of pride in our accomplishment.

Just like in Rocky where he is portrayed as a bum, and told he could never be a good boxer, Papale reads this note from his former wife before she leaves him.

I mean… this might be stretching it, but those stairs are so familiar… Rocky much?

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The irony of the film “Rocky” coming from a city of Quaker by Janelle Janci

Rocky is arguably one of the most iconic sports movies of all time. Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, is a fighter. He’s gruff and tough, hulkish and able to take a punch as well as dole one out. One of the main points that the movie hinges itself on is Rocky proving his worth through his masculinity by fighting.

However, it’s incredibly ironic that this violent (albeit iconic) film is born from a city of Quakers, a group of people known for their pacifist beliefs.

When tourists are running up and down the art museum steps and posing with flexed arms and a dopey grin, they could probably see Billy Penn perched atop City Hall if they squint enough. While we’ll never quite know how Penn would feel watching people flock to his city to perpetuate the image of a violent fighter, it’s a humorous juxtaposition nonetheless.

For those of us non-Quakers, most of our introductions to the image of a Quaker likely came from a cylindrical container of oatmeal. (While it may be a stretch to call the oatmeal logo itself a Philadelphia icon, the image of a Quaker man no doubt has Philadelphia ties, as I’ll explain.) The Quaker man was actuallythe first registered trademark for a breakfast cereal, secured in 1877. However, the Quaker oats company didn’t have a religious affiliation to Quakers. Rather, the image of a Quaker was chosen to represent “good quality and honest value,” according to the official history on Quaker Oatmeal’s website.

(Side note: If you’ve bought oatmeal recently and noticed the Quaker man looked a little different, it’s because designers made him lose weight in an updated version of the logo.)

Historically, the Quakers are a form of Christianity that formed in the mid-1600s. The religion itself is called the Religious Society of Friends, and “friend” and “Quaker” are synonymous to people within the religion’s community. (Source) Philadelphia is a huge piece of Quaker’s history, with William Penn himself identifying as one. On quakerinfo.org, there’s an entire page dedicated to information on historical sites for Quakers in Philadelphia alone. While Penn didn’t settle in Philadelphia immediately, Philadelphia became a very important location for the Quakers – it’s the home of the oldest and largest yearly meeting of The Society of Friends. And hey, since sports are the one true way Philadelphia shows affection, a hockey team, a football team and a baseball team were even named “Philadelphia Quakers.”

According to the BBC’s historical page on the Quaker religion, promoting pacifism and non-violence are very important to Quakers – making the fact that “Rocky,” a film about a man who makes his livelihood on very non-pacifist activities, is a Philadelphia movie absolutely ironic.

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Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog by Quinn W Karpiak

To quote 1984’s Spinal Tap: “Now, Philly, that’s a real rock and roll town.” Taken out of the context of the movie, this quote means little more than a compliment to Philadelphia’s music scene. However, like the majority of Spinal Tap, the quote is a joke. Philadelphia had a famous music scene, but it had almost nothing to do with rock and roll; the sound of Philadelphia was soul music, R&B by the likes of Patti Labell, Teddy Pendergrass, and the Dellfonics. The only major rock and roll artist produced out of Philadelphia before Spinal Tap was Todd Rundgren, and he’s not exactly an international superstar. Yet, this lack of prominent, well-known rock and roll acts does something interesting: if a band achieves even a small amount of national or regional success, they become heroes within the music scene. The other factor in creating this heroism is the tendency for most Philadelphia artists to stay loyal and local, even with increased success. In Dr. Dog, we see a Philadelphia artist who have commanded the most rock and roll respect since Todd Rundgren or the Hooters — whom many people of my parent’s generation will cite as the most impressive Philadelphia band. Dr. Dog’s influence has been so vital to the area that a new wave of distinguished artists have been following their path for the past ten years.

Dr. Dog has typical origins, beginning with the two band leaders, Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman, discovering their musical similarities on an eighth-grade field trip. Their first album to be widely distributed was 2005’s, Easy Beat, which coincided with a tour alongside Jim James’ My Morning Jacket. Over the past ten years, Dr. Dog has released four other studio albums, along with a few EP’s and rarities albums. They have not garnered especially favorable reviews from magazines like Pitchfork, and they have only in the past five years been earning major spots at festivals outside Philadelphia, but what makes them so critical is their importance in Philadelphia.

Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, I did not know there was any good modern music being made. I was raised on the classic rock my dad showed me, which I devoured as my only musical sustenance because I did not have older brothers or older friends who were hip to what was going on. But luck shined on me one Sunday morning as I read the Inquirer’s review of Dr. Dog’s 2008 album, Fate. I bought it off iTunes that day because it was so amazing to me that music, supposedly worth listening to, was being made in my backyard. I shared the band with every one of my friends who would listen to me, and I arrived at college a few years later to discover hundreds of others kids that loved Dr. Dog like I did. This little thing that I loved, that I admired and revered, was being loved and admired by a greater audience than I ever knew existed. I would go to their concerts when they returned to Philly and strike conversations with people who have been seeing Dr. Dog live since they released their first album. There was a secret world built on the backs of this band. But everyone was in on the secret, and since attending Temple I’ve watched the number of signature Dr. Dog hats and t-shirts soar, as the community has spread.

Since Dr. Dog’s small appearance on the national scene, with songs in movie trailers and spots in the nation’s top music festivals, other noticable rock and roll acts have put Philadelphia on the music map. The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are the biggest artists to ride in Dr. Dog’s indie wake. Though I’m sure these bands would have made a name for themselves out in the world, gaining as much national notoriety as they have, even without Dr. Dog to preceed them, it was essential for their long-term success as Philadelphia bands for Dr. Dog to set the stage and plant the seeds in the scene. Dr. Dog’s DIY attitude works perfectly in a blue-collar city that lives in the shadow of New York City, but is determined not to be percieved through that shadow.

 

http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/thisisspinaltap.txt

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/2608-easy-beat/

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