Glory Road - Long Way Down that Road
| Disney seems to have decided that they will release one inspirational sports movie each year. It seems like a good decision financially as Remember the Titans (football), The Greatest Game Ever Played (golf), and Miracle (hockey) have all been successful. This year they have turned to basketball in the story of Glory Road.
Glory Road tells the tale of the first NCAA team to recruit and lead black players. Against all odds, the team wins the championship. The message here is obvious but it’s still a good one.
The film is made, like the other Disney sports films, in a very succinct yet flashy style that easily impresses the masses. There is little complain about in a film that is so inspiring and competently crafted, especially one that passes along such a good message to the family audience it is aimed at.
However, I was very hard on Paul Haggis and his film Crash for trivializing the issue of racism. It’s hard to deny that Glory Road does some of that as well. However, it never really says it’s going to be anything more than an inspiring tale of youth overcoming the evils of the world (racism) through sport. Crash pretended to be an analysis of prejudice. Glory Road only claims to condemn it.
It is a very simple film yet it manages not to talk down to its audience. Okay, it doesn’t delve deeply into the issues – hatred is only ever exhibited by the “other” and never by characters the audience can relate to – but it does pass along an important vilification of those who attempt to maintain our society’s power structures through marginalization. This is a good lesson for all families.
Notice I call this film a “family film” and not a “children’s film.” A good “family film” is for all members of a family.
Still, I wonder if most audiences will get the actual message of Glory Road. It isn’t that black people should be able to play basketball at the highest levels. The film even acknowledges how far we are beyond a simple question like that by making a joke about it. It’s that as long as individuals are excluded from social institutions due to their connection to an identifiable group, injustice exists and therefore we all suffer.
If you are inspired at all by a film like Glory Road instead of just feeling good about yourself for not being a racist you should instead ask yourself in what ways you contribute to the exclusion of others who are different from you. You should discuss this with your children as well. Maybe that will truly inspire them.