42: A Legend

English: Jackie Robinson

Last night, I had the pleasure and good fortune to attend the private special screening of 42, The Jackie Robinson Story. After scoring free tix via the local chapter of Meetup.com and Johnny Funcheap (a well kept secret free site), I attended the screening, which was held at the Century Theater in the Westfield San Francisco mall. Every time I visit this mall, I am viciously tempted to empty my bank account and indulge in all of the fabulous fashion finds lurking in each and every store; H&M, Michael Kors, BCBG, Mango and Zara!!!! All in one place!? It’s seriously hazardous to my life. Therefore, I try and avoid walking through this mall, instead entering the movie theater from the elevators in Bloomies (which I don’t even PRETEND I can afford). I digress.

I’d seen the previews for 42 and arrived to the screening with hopeful anticipation. I’m a sucker for biographical tales, especially those that are pertinent to my cultural history and reference; as an African American young woman, there are plenty of pioneers and heroic leaders who paved the way for my existence and provided me ample opportunity to succeed in ways not possible beforehand. In this day and age, it’s easy to lose sight of that. Sometimes, the burden of race can be stifling, and so many people of color choose to take a day off or so without constantly thinking about it. But still, people of color have come a long way, and it’s invigorating to see a positive portrayal of the historic trailblazers who paved the way for us all.

I am thrilled to say I genuinely enjoyed this movie. It didn’t delve into the cliched bravado and exaggeration that usually surround the tale of legends, but instead, it approached the story of the first African American man to play Major League Baseball as it most likely was; challenging, hurtful, extraordinary and revolutionary.

Often times, when it comes to pre-civil rights era movies, racism is either downplayed and glorified (Driving Ms. Daisy, ugh), or it is egregiously exploited and sensationalized (Django). Either way, the point is often missed or overshadowed by the Hollywood effect. I can adamantly say this was not the case with 42. There were parts of the movie that made me cringe with empathy, as I can only imagine the emotions Jackie Robinson must have experienced day after day, moment after moment, as he excelled and persevered amongst unfiltered hatred and disgust. Then, there were scenes that I rejoiced in, along with other (more boisterous) moviegoers; moments when Jackie Robinson prevailed, thus forever changing the direction of baseball and the lives of many.

Jrobinson

I was struck by how humble and ordinary Jackie Robinson assumed himself to be. Don’t get me wrong, he was confident in his skills as a baseball player and as a husband and father, but did not immediately see the significance of his entry into the major leagues. This seems to be a common theme amongst the pioneers against racism; many of the leaders saw themselves as ordinary people, standing up for their basic human rights. I’ve always viewed these historical heroes differently: as ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. #42 of the Brooklyn Dodgers was no different.

I don’t want to give away the story, although we all know what happened in the end. All you have to do is think of baseball greats Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey, Jr., Hank Aaron, and the Bay Area’s own amazing talents such as Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Ricky Henderson and CC Sabathia. It all started with Jackie.

This wasn’t only a feel-good movie about breaking barriers and baseball, but it was a true story of genuine bravery, leadership and greatness.

But don’t just listen to me, go and see it for yourself!

42, The Jackie Robinson Story, opening this Friday, April 12th in a theater near you.

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