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Rocky Balboa
A Masculine Character or not? Bruno Diaz and James LaFond

Hello James, how are you?

Recently i've been watching the Rocky movie series. I always like it (my fevorite is probably Rocky IV, the one where he is the american hero, fighting against the big bad soviet monster), but, after reawthing all the movies, the thir one became my new favorite (the one where, because civilization and confort had made him soft, he lost to a more vicious, barbaric e masculine fighter, and has to embark on a quest to find his masculinity and will to fight back).

Since i couldn't find any article in your site about that, I would like to hear your opinion on that. What do you think of thr mvoies, overall? You think is a good manly tale, or just another hollywood bullshit?

Hope you are well.

Bruno Dias

Bruno, I am doing well, have been lifting weights and walking before my return to the gym this week.

Below is my sense of the Rocky movies I have seen, which are only the first three. I have no idea what the others are about. From 1990 through 2003 I did not watch movies or TV, at all. When I returned to the viewer ranks I limited myself to documentaries and real fights from 2003 to 2010, after which I have only viewed subjects related to my writing and sparingly.

Rocky was based on the real working class fighter Chuck Wepner from New jersey, but was fictionally situated in Philadelphia [not an Italian, but an Irish-African American fight town] and embodied with the persona of Rocky Marciano, an Italian champion from New England. The boxing was generally bad, the accents mongrelized or misplaced, but the spirit of masculine confluence was there. The crux of the story is the promethean figure of Apollo Creed, too far removed by his talent from his masculine roots, literally reaching into the boxing gutter for what was essentially a Public Relations stunt, which turned into a real battle for heroic identification, with Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed literally playing the demigod as a foil for the bootstrap hero.

Rocky, if Stallone would have been an ancient Hellenic poet, would have been about Herakles being defined by his fully divine brother, Apollo, and their rivalry, rather than by the wrath of his divine stepmother Hera and the crass expectations and egos of chthonic kings and beasts.

American sentimentality is evoked in the sissy streak in Rocky, the paranoia that his family might have to work hard and suffer like him, that his moment in the bloody midnight sun will not crystalize into perpetual security for his wife and children. Sentimentality is a powerful tool in Civilized media, linking the hero with a materialistic rather than transcendent prize.

Rocky II expands the heroic quest into the realm of iron sharpening iron, of the ascendant hero's tragic and ultimately liberating realization that he is nothing without his enemy, that his foe defines him and that they, not he and the passive spectators, are forever linked by their encounter.

The best of the first three Rocky movies was certainly Rocky III, in which the hero, fallen into softness and decadence, must rise and re-forge himself into a more even-tempered weapon. I remember walking in on my wife and oldest son while they were watching this movie and they were so into it that she was crying and he had his little fists balled up as they cheered on the hero. It occurred to me then, that the Rocky Trilogy was not about boxing, but about heroism. In re-watching the movie, which I had rented on VHS for them, in, I think, 1982, I was thrilled to find that Chuck Wepner's real life was revisited in far more detail in the wrestling match between Rocky and Thunder Lips, played by Hulk Hogan, which was an almost faithful rendition of Wepner versus Andre the Giant.

In the end, the Rocky Trilogy, was, to me, a lesson that the hero is ultimately compromised by the peaceful conditions that his dynamic sacrifice made temporarily possible.

As for the other movies, I have not seen them.

Thank you, Bruno, for compelling me to look anew at Stallone's first exploration of the hero in modern context, something he did equally well with the Rambo series.

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Add Comment
LaManoMarch 26, 2018 10:27 AM UTC

I highly recommend Rocky IV.

The 10-minute or so sequence from the time the Russian-clone DC-3 drifts down onto that snow-covered Siberian runway, until Rocky snatches Drago's photo down off the mirror and crushes it, has GOT to be the greatest work-out scene ever.

Otherwise, as you say, the boxing isn't very good, mainly because no referee would let an apparently helpless fighter get beat literally to death without even moving toward the fighters.

But overall the best of the Rockys, as far as I like them!
responds:March 26, 2018 6:22 PM UTC

My main complaint about the Rocky boxing scenes I have seen was the tension and lack of relaxed motion, which I understand is necessary to communicate combative drama to noncombatants.

Carl Weathers, though, in spots, looked like he could have been a real pro.

Thanks for the heads up.
Mescaline FranklinMarch 26, 2018 9:52 AM UTC

There was Joey Giardello, they have a statue of him in South Philly on Passyunk.

Like you said, its weird have this guy with the overdone New York accent in the middle of Philly, Rocky would have been fighting in the street every other day in Goon city and not with the blacks either!

Rocky Balboa was also pretty good, the film that really gets into the urban essence of whats left of working class Philadelphia. The one where he "fights" Antonio Tarver.
Bruno DiasMarch 25, 2018 11:42 PM UTC

Thanks for answering the question Mr. LaFond.

I didn't knew that Rocky was inspired by a real guy. I always thought that the pro-wrestling match between Rocky and Thunderlips was inspired by the fight between Ali vs japanese pro-wrestling Antonio Inoki.

As far as the other movies go, i would recomend for you to watch movies 4 and 6. Also, If you're interested, they had made a new movie in the franchise, called "Creed", where Rocky (now an old man), srarts tô train Apollo's bastard son.
responds:March 26, 2018 5:24 AM UTC

The Wepner vs Andre the Giant fight was on the undercard of that Ali Inoki fight.