erik lundegaard

Friday February 08, 2013

The New Definition of Hubris: Telling Jackie Robinson How to Slide

Step one

Warner Bros. releases a poster for the new Jackie Robinson biopic, “42,” to which movie blogger and “Lincoln” nemesis Jeffrey Wells objects. His first thought: “Who slides with his right fist raised in a victory salute?” He thought it looked like bullshit. He thought it did a disservice to the movie and to Jackie.

Here's the poster:

poster for Jackie Robinson biopic "42"

Step two

Readers of Hollywood Elsewhere point out that any Google image search of “Jackie Robinson sliding” will demonstrate that Jackie did in fact slide with his hand balled into a fist. Other readers will point out that this is the way you're supposed to slide. It prevents dislocated or broken fingers.

Here's a photo of Jackie Robinson sliding:

Jackie Robinson sliding

Step three

Wells owns up to this. He provides a link to all the photos. But he still objects to the poster. He writes:

The bottom line is that the poster still looks phony even if Robinson did that fist thing every time. Partly because his mouth is open as if he's shouting “yeaaahhhh!” It looks like an advertising con, and if I were running the marketing on this movie I would tell the art guys to not use it. Fine for the movie, not fine for the poster.

The awful thing about Wells? He's right here. This part is right. It's not partly because his mouth is open as if he's shouting “yeaaahhhh!” It's completely because his mouth is open as if he's shouting “yeaaahhhh!” Wells gets it. The poster isn't as powerful for this very reason.

But then Wells keeps his mouth open.

Step four

He writes this:

Imagine how beautiful this image would be on its own terms if Robinson's right hand was more or less open-palmed and going for balance, like any athlete's hand would be at such a moment. I've slid into bases. I know what's involved so don't tell me. The fist thing is odd.

It took me a second to realize what Wells was saying here. I've slid into bases. I know what's involved so don't tell me. The man who began this Oscar season by telling Daniel Day-Lewis how to act was ending it by telling Jackie Robinson how to slide.

That's gotta be the new definition of hubris.

I look forward to future blog posts in which Jeff Wells tells Babe Ruth how to hit homeruns, Martin Luther King, Jr. how to give a speech, and James Joyce how to write.

Posted at 03:33 PM on Friday February 08, 2013 in category Movies  
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