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Spider Rico's Revenge

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spider Rico's Revenge

During my psychiatry session the other day (yeah, I have a shrink.  Shocking, I know.  And a therapist.  In fact I pay more in mental health maintenance every week than I earn in a week.  Figure that shit out), I mentioned the movie Rocky, which I must've done a hundred times before.

Because my psychiatrist says, "Wow, Rocky is really important to you."

Ya think, doc?

I'm a white forty-year-old (Italian) guy from the East Coast with a history of fucking up and no discernible skills other than an ability to take a massive, non-stop beating. What forty-something with those credentials isn't enamored with Rocky?  Rocky is a hero to people like us.  Rocky says, Hey, it's OK that you can't do nothing no good. You just keep taking these shots,  get your head bashed in and stay on your feet, and you could do something great.  And you're like, yeah, I can do that.

Of course, the subtext of this is that the relentless pounding you take is the precursor to greatness.  It's why the movie struck, and still strikes, such a chord with your--forgive the pun--Average Joe.  In our quiet desperation, we wait for our shot at something special, the moment the world will be forced to take notice of what we've known we had inside us all along, that hidden, secret...ability...buried deep within that has been yearning for the chance to shine.  Or not.

There's a great scene in the movie High Fidelity, where Rob turns down sex with an ex-girlfriend, who has obviously fallen on hard times, still living in the same shithole apartment, mired in the same shitbag job.  As Rob leaves her at her door, he says to the camera, "I could've wound up having sex back there...but it wouldn't have been sleeping a single person; it would've been like sleeping with a whole sad single person culture.  Sorta like sleeping with Taila Shire in Rocky if you weren't Rocky."

How many more years did Rocky have left if Apollo didn't need a fill-in for the bicentennial match?  In the movie he's thirty.  Maybe ten years?  Tops.  And he certainly isn't going the distance at forty.  Forget the four shitty sequels (although I still maintain the final installment, Rocky Balboa, was significantly better.  Not in the league with the first movie, but a nice way to say goodbye to the character, nonetheless); we're only looking at the first, because I'm not sure Stallone even knew what he had created: the quintessential American hero.

Most of our heroes come larger than life; it's part of the appeal.  James Bond can do things we can't.  John Wayne.  Brad Pitt.  Sherlock Holmes.  Whoever.  But they don't sell the American Dream.  Not like Rocky.  Which is what this place is all about.

In the 1850s, the majority of southerners didn't own slaves, because they were too poor to own slaves, and yet they supported the rich, white aristocracy's right to do so.  Why?  The same reason poor people supported George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy: because one day, when they too attain their piece of the pie, they don't want anybody telling them they can't enjoy the spoils.  It's not going to happen, of course, and I have several friends, poor friends, who are Republicans, which to me is like minorities wanting to join the KKK, who rail against our country's "march toward Socialism," when if such a move actually were taking place (and it's not), they'd be the ones who'd benefit most.  But what the fuck do I know?*

It's only the sale that matters.  Or rather, the spectacle and allure of that sale.  Or rather, a picture, however far off, that gives you...just...enough...hope to carry on. Keep taking your licks, keep watching others pass you by on that latter o' success, bite your tongue, bide your time, and when your million-to-one shot comes be ready.

And that's it, where the movie and mythology sucks you in.  It gets you to believe you are that one-in-a-million.  But you're not.  You are the odds, the other statistic, the filler of the unfulfilled.  That gnawing hunger you feel every morning when you wake up, trudging off to that job you hate, stuck on the freeway with all the other dipshits, that, son, is your soul dying.  Remember, for every Rocky, there are a thousand more Spider Ricos.


*This isn't mine.  I mean I already knew it.  But I am probably stealing from a Yahoo News article I read a few weeks back.


At February 6, 2011 at 5:05 PM , Blogger esther said...

I really think you're onto something with this blog. I mean it. I think it's gonna break something open for you. Maybe an opportunity. But maybe just your injured pride. Either way. I'm enjoying the posts.

At February 7, 2011 at 6:17 AM , Blogger Sean said...

Loved this entry, Joe. And I love Rocky too.
But only the first one. It's a masterpiece.

The Rocky story is very meta because Sylvester Stallone was a struggling writer--working at a Deli counter in LA. He wrote the screenplay for "Rocky" in three days, after he saw the Muhammed Ali-Chuck Wepner fight.

Chuck Wepner was a good fighter--a former Marine and lumbering bruiser from New Jersey--but he wasn't great. Prone to cuts, Wepner was known as the "Bayonne Bleeder." After suffering a string of high profile defeats and bloody KOs, he pummeled his way through several comeback victories. That's when was given a shot at the title with Muhammed Ali. Ali was guaranteed $1.5 million (this is 1974) and Wepner was guaranteed $100,000--this was much more than he had ever earned as a fighter. Wepner went toe-to-toe with Ali for 15 rounds--even though he was way behind on all the scorecards. Late in the final round Ali stunned Wepner with a flurry of punches, then finished him off with a heavy right. Wepner's head snapped back, he fell backwards into the ropes and buckled to the canvas. Wepner wobbled to his feet--and told the ref he could keep fighting, but the referee called the fight. Wepner was KO'd with just seconds left on the clock.

Both Stallone and Wepner stepped into the ring and took their shots. Most important however, they didn't leave the ring--even when it appeared they should.


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