The Underdog as an American Hero: Rocky!


Victor Pross

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The Underdog as an American Hero: Rocky!

Rocky, one of Hollywood’s iconic characters--is an example of the rugged individualist pulling himself up by his bootstraps, surviving on instinct and triumphing against all odds through the power of sheer will and resolution. Rocky, the movie and the fictional character, became embedded in American culture as an inspirational ode for hardworking underdogs. In the ring, Rocky lost his fight with Apollo Creed. But he won his self-respect and the enduring love of Adrian, his woman.

In Rocky Ballboa, a character Stallone created and played on screen six times, we found a Horatio Alger from the ghetto. A punch-drunk journeyman prizefighter with a heart of gold, given one shot –one very slim shot—at glory and fame. Through hard work and determination he conquers a richer, better equipped but complacent champion.

For more times, in four more films, Rocky would find himself severely overmatched, and each time he would triumph through pure heart and sweat. In Rocky IV, we saw him take on the whole Soviet sports-industrial complex and, after training in an unequipped barn in the Moscow winter, win not only the fight but also the adoration of the Russian fans and a standing ovation from the Soviet premier.

Sylvester Stallone himself, the actor, the man, has been fighting the same sort of underdog battle in the press. Trying to persuade America that he is not the lovable but stupid oaf he played in those early films, Stallone tried to branch out, he tried his hand at comedy and drama.

But America is not built on the love of smart-talking tough guys who make country music with Dolly Parton. America loves an underdog. And a winner.

From Icons and Idols: Art and copy by Victor Pross.

Rocky_by_Victor_Pross.gif

Edited by Victor Pross
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  • 2 weeks later...

~ ROCKY, as also RAMBO (and INDIANA JONES), are iconic for their focus on the whole idea of 'struggle' (which some see as merely a 'romantic' adolescent concern btw), not even necessarily to 'win', but, to know that they not only 'can', but will run the(ir) gauntlet for their personal value, to the end, fame/fortune be damned.

~ They're iconic for their representation of the spirit of never willingly, volitionally, giving in to the little 'I'm tired. Why Bother anymore?' voice which clearly is constantly nagging at them to stop trying, to 'let it go.' --- Rocky doesn't. If he doesn't get up off the mat, it's because he simply can't; not because he...'let it go'...and decided that this time, since he's so tired, he wouldn't.

~ 'Rocky's more than an 'underdog.' He's a never-give-upper. THAT's the American 'sense-of-life'...deserved by us, or not, nowadays.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey
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~ Thought I'd mention an interesting aspect my wife and I discussed re this series after seeing "...BALBOA." This may be more appropriate in the Aesthetics section, but, seems germane here, now.

~ The very character of Rocky, especially in the latest episode-of-his-life (presumably THE last; and, I really liked, reviewers nwst, all the previous. I didn't consider them 'repetitions' of the 1st. He had dif motivations in each,) superficially concentrated on his 'ego'-need: "Can I still do it?" The 'self-doubt' aspect was insinuated 8-ways from Sunday, in his, in effect, 'challenging himself' more than he was the young established-and-official champion. We found this, primitively-pugilistic though it be, as no different from all 'artists' (or, 'artisans'?), be they painters, sculptors, composers, screenplay-writers (er, like Stallone) in the 'ego'-need to keep on doing what they 'need' to do.

~ Any thoughts on THAT baby?

LLAP

J:D

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The recent (and LAST) movie, Rocky Balboa is exactly how Rocky should bow out, both as a man and as a movie franchise. The mediocre Rocky V (1990) would have been a crappy way to remember the meat-smacking punk who took us triumphantly up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of art. I loved the first Rocky, and I love this last one.

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