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Slapshot: an anti-capitalist movie involving hockey

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Old
10-16-2011, 09:10 AM
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSCII View Post
What I truly find interesting in this movie is the nature of the exploitation. One of the biggest perpetrators of this injustice on the blue collar players is it's own leader, Reggie Dunlop. He makes them resort to base violence in an attempt to salvage the status quo. Kind of funny that the voice for his group is actually pushing them down the path of being exploited even more than the powers that be. Love the duality being inferred there.
Agreed, and there's even another parallel: the physical violence within hockey is mirrored by the gendered violence elsewhere. The movie seems to be making the point that the exploited can exploit just as easily in an attempt to gain status.

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10-16-2011, 09:19 AM
  #27
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Yikes, you have a low opinion of yourself and your neighbors. So when do Jeremy Jacobs and Mark Zuckerberg and George Clooney and George Bush and the other rulers (rich people) meet to cook up these schemes for all of us in the ignorant bloodthirsty masses?
Yearly at the Bilderberg Conference.

Most recently in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

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10-16-2011, 09:23 AM
  #28
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I wasn't feeling well today and had to get a bunch of stuff done for work, so I turned on Slapshot in the background while I worked in an attempt to cheer myself up. It probably wasn't a great choice, as I always seem to forget that underneath the exterior of sophomoric humor and violence for the sake of violence is a unyielding, depressing critique of society. However, there is one theme I don't think I get completely as it's not well elucidated in the movie and the director seems ambivalent to decide one way or the other. I figured it might be something worth exploring.

The movie's central theme isn't the more obvious candidates of the violence of hockey or the screwed up personal lives of the players, it's a rather unrefined broadside against capitalism. The shutdown of the plant is mirrored by the shutdown of the Chiefs, the personal indignities of the workers mirrored by the indignities of the players having to showcase miserable, exploitative clothing in order to raise capital, the police system something that can be paid off by the upper class elite (exemplified by Braden). Moreover, the paths of Dunlop's ex wife, Hanrahan's wife and Braden's wife aren't unique to hockey; the isolation felt by workers being moved to support capital and the resultant social effects are part of every industry that has an effective wage slave system. This is well established in the movie.

What I have trouble understanding is the movie's relationship with violence. Is it a simple statement about the lower classes fighting with one another over "winning and losing" when the real winners aren't even at the game, like the Chiefs owner? Is it a commentary on labor in general, that all labor is effectively where one gives their body for their job? Those are both reasonable guesses, but the farcical lens through which it is shown as well as Braden's actions in the climax leads me to believe that there's another point being made, unless the point is that the game (and, by extension, life outside of the upper class in a capitalist system) is literally a farce, pointless in the face of the crushing power of the elite.

On another forum I frequent, an astute poster made a very good point about the intertwining of gender: the violence perpetrated by and on the males is no less exploitative than the objectification perpetrated by and on the females of the movie. In either case, the end result is catharsis, although the film is not clear with whether it is in favor of this catharsis: Dunlop moves up the corporate ladder to coach somewhere else although still beholden to capital, while Charlestown retains its pride and has a parade as the plant closes. A sardonic look at this would seem to say that the catharsis offered by cheap violence within a class or gender is a false one when compared against what the movie offers as the real problems of labor versus capital, but the movie is not as clear.

It's a terrific movie, and certainly the best hockey movie ever, even though it is not really a hockey movie at all. Figured someone else might have some insight as to what the movie was trying to accomplish.



in before "lol deliciouspie is a commie, the movie isn't saying any of that you dumb pinko"
Sounds like the beloved Slapshot is an accidental masterpiece.

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10-16-2011, 09:27 AM
  #29
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Originally Posted by banalpie View Post
Agreed, and there's even another parallel: the physical violence within hockey is mirrored by the gendered violence elsewhere. The movie seems to be making the point that the exploited can exploit just as easily in an attempt to gain status.
Exactly. They also provide the answer too: Education. Ned Braden is well aware he's being exploited and he's okay with it up to a point, but once it's gone too far he wants no part in it. I don't think it was a coincidence he was a Princeton grad.

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10-16-2011, 09:28 AM
  #30
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I think that's the best description I've ever heard of it.

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10-16-2011, 09:32 AM
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSCII View Post
Exactly. They also provide the answer too: Education. Ned Braden is well aware he's being exploited and he's okay with it up to a point, but once it's gone too far he wants no part in it. I don't think it was a coincidence he was a Princeton grad.
I actually thought that was yet another indicator of class and less one of education. There's a reason why he was from Princeton and not UNH: 1) Princeton sucks, 2) It's another indicator that his family is rich.

That second item is one of the reasons Braden and Lily never accept nor are accepted by the class they are in, and why should they be? They have the ability to move up and out of their situation at any time. The line Lily says about Braden leaving hockey and going to work for her dad or his dad is placed against the canvas of eleven thousand workers being put on waivers through no fault of their own. Braden and Lily can get a job at any time because they are members of the elite.


Last edited by deliciouspie: 10-16-2011 at 12:22 PM. Reason: added a preposition
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10-16-2011, 09:35 AM
  #32
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
Yearly at the Bilderberg Conference.

Most recently in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Jeremy Jacobs was there cooking up the scheme to come up with the MMA to distract us from our horrible lives so that we don't rise up against the ruling class? I guess you learn new stuff everyday.

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10-16-2011, 09:39 AM
  #33
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I think it's boring movie for the most part.

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10-16-2011, 09:40 AM
  #34
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Originally Posted by thejickler View Post
I think it's boring movie for the most part.
blaspheme!

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10-16-2011, 09:42 AM
  #35
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Jeremy Jacobs was there cooking up the scheme to come up with the MMA to distract us from our horrible lives so that we don't rise up against the ruling class? I guess you learn new stuff everyday.
Mr. Jacobs was not there. I was merely pointing out where the globalist elite meets to decide the fate of everyone.

George W. probably wasn't there either, but I'd assume Clinton & Cheney were.

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10-16-2011, 09:51 AM
  #36
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As I said, Nancy Dowd was the screenwriter.

Also, she based the screenplay on real life events. The team her brother played for WAS on the verge of folding, nobody knew who owned it, and the mills in Johnstown (where the movie was actually filmed as well as based, though it was called "charlestown") were indeed closing.

As with most forms of art, people will see in it what they want to see. IMHO Dowd was trying to tell a good story, and she suceeded, with help from Hill, Newman and some unpolished but wonderfully natural actors.
I grew up around New Haven CT, and went to Eastern League games, saw the New Haven Blades play the Johnstown Jets, and the movie was not a far stretch. The crowds were working (some non-working) class and the games were gladiatorial hockey. Some of what went on could have passed for 60's style pro wrestling (same fan base), playoff games seemed to be fixed at times, and nobody was expecting these guys to end up in the NHL, even with expansion. Most teams did not have an NHL affiliation.

EHL was a step below the AHL, but it was a big step. The towns (New haven, Johnstown, Clinton NY, Syracuse, Long Island Ducks) were truly minor league, and the fans mostly didn't attend because of a love of hockey, they just wanted to drink, smoke, cheer, boo, and fight.

I remember one game where a Blade checked an opponent into the boards, and the boards collapsed - just caved in. Of course the sportwriters tried to portray it as a thunderous hit, but the truth is it was probably shoddy workmanship, rotten wood, or staged - hard to tell which from the stands.

There were nightly bench clearing brawls and it really resembled a wrestling ring at times. There were almost as many fights in the stands. The Hansons, Ogie, Dr. Hook, and Screaming Buffalo are exaggerated, but not by that much.

The Long Island Ducks entry in Wikopedia is pretty amusing, and the factual bullet items could come right from the movie. The article says:

"The Ducks are most famously known for player-head coach John Brophy, who is believed to be the role model for Paul Newman's character of Reggie Dunlop in the movie Slap Shot.[1] Brophy encouraged and epitomized "old-time hockey" and brash physical play, retired as the league's career leader in penalty minutes, and was once suspended for half of a season for knocking down a referee."

Brophy eventually coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is just about the only guy I remember who made it to the NHL from the EHL.

As far as anti-capitalism, it sure wasn't an "American Dream" movie. It painted small town America, especially the northeast, as pretty grimy and hopeless, with Florida as the promised land, and the working people as sustained by bread and circuses.

American capitalism is seen as gilded-over feudalism, with the serfs essentially bound to the land (factories) and entirely dependent on the moneyed class, who could give a ****. A guy like Dunlop who tries to make something better merely amuses the elite, until he can be slapped down.

Braden, whose Princeton education is a ticket to the ruling class, rebels (what must his parents have thought!), has his bubble burst about hockey and life, and finally succumbs to the absurdity of a striptease, and his life takes a happier turn. The ending kinda seems to say that you are better off playing the system as it is then bucking it, and the town is left with a parade, and little else.

nihilistic ending indeed.


Last edited by mattbnh: 10-16-2011 at 10:00 AM.
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10-16-2011, 10:16 AM
  #37
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
Mr. Jacobs was not there. I was merely pointing out where the globalist elite meets to decide the fate of everyone.

George W. probably wasn't there either, but I'd assume Clinton & Cheney were.
Oh I think I get it now. So guys like Cheney and Clinton go and then they send out the meeting minutes to the other rulers like Jacobs to implement. Thanks for the enlightenment.

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Old
10-16-2011, 10:33 AM
  #38
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Feel free to take the conspiracy theory and disinformation talk to a more appropriate place. This is, at least, a discussion of the film and what it's implications are. I know its a broad subject, but its not THAT broad.

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Old
10-16-2011, 11:39 AM
  #39
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Originally Posted by Artemis View Post
I highly recommend this book if you want to know what the producers director (George Roy Hill, who also directed "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), screenwriter (a woman, BTW, Nancy Dowd) and cast members think it was all about:

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Slap-Sh...8737556&sr=1-1
I just ordered this... thanks for the tip!

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10-16-2011, 11:46 AM
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I'm sure most people here have already seen "The Chiefs," but for those who have not seen it, I highly recommend viewing it if you are interested in the dynamics of violence and exploitation in the world of minor league hockey. It is a documentary, unlike Slap Shot, but is very entertaining and depressing at times.

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10-16-2011, 11:55 AM
  #41
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This thread is absolutely awesome!

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Old
10-16-2011, 12:11 PM
  #42
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To the earlier point that the reading taken in this thread isn't necessarily the correct one, the one character I never really figured out was the general manager. Unless his role was simply a vision of the typical every-man-for-himself middle manager beholden to capital, he really doesn't fit in to the larger points being made.


Last edited by deliciouspie: 10-16-2011 at 12:19 PM.
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10-16-2011, 12:13 PM
  #43
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****ing chrysler plant here I come

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10-16-2011, 02:14 PM
  #44
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Originally Posted by binder19 View Post
Yikes, you have a low opinion of yourself and your neighbors. So when do Jeremy Jacobs and Mark Zuckerberg and George Clooney and George Bush and the other rulers (rich people) meet to cook up these schemes for all of us in the ignorant bloodthirsty masses?
Like it or not, spectator sports have a history, and it's pretty barbaric. If you don't buy my post, that's fine, but offer a rebuttal of what purpose you think spectator sports serve, and how and why they make money.

Also I don't have a low self-opinion, I just acknowledge violence as part of human nature. Some try to bury it, others revel in it, most are content to sublimate it by watching it.


Last edited by Dogberry: 10-16-2011 at 02:49 PM.
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10-16-2011, 02:21 PM
  #45
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Originally Posted by mattbnh View Post
I grew up around New Haven CT, and went to Eastern League games, saw the New Haven Blades play the Johnstown Jets, and the movie was not a far stretch. The crowds were working (some non-working) class and the games were gladiatorial hockey. Some of what went on could have passed for 60's style pro wrestling (same fan base), playoff games seemed to be fixed at times, and nobody was expecting these guys to end up in the NHL, even with expansion. Most teams did not have an NHL affiliation.

EHL was a step below the AHL, but it was a big step. The towns (New haven, Johnstown, Clinton NY, Syracuse, Long Island Ducks) were truly minor league, and the fans mostly didn't attend because of a love of hockey, they just wanted to drink, smoke, cheer, boo, and fight.

I remember one game where a Blade checked an opponent into the boards, and the boards collapsed - just caved in. Of course the sportwriters tried to portray it as a thunderous hit, but the truth is it was probably shoddy workmanship, rotten wood, or staged - hard to tell which from the stands.

There were nightly bench clearing brawls and it really resembled a wrestling ring at times. There were almost as many fights in the stands. The Hansons, Ogie, Dr. Hook, and Screaming Buffalo are exaggerated, but not by that much.

The Long Island Ducks entry in Wikopedia is pretty amusing, and the factual bullet items could come right from the movie. The article says:

"The Ducks are most famously known for player-head coach John Brophy, who is believed to be the role model for Paul Newman's character of Reggie Dunlop in the movie Slap Shot.[1] Brophy encouraged and epitomized "old-time hockey" and brash physical play, retired as the league's career leader in penalty minutes, and was once suspended for half of a season for knocking down a referee."

Brophy eventually coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is just about the only guy I remember who made it to the NHL from the EHL.

As far as anti-capitalism, it sure wasn't an "American Dream" movie. It painted small town America, especially the northeast, as pretty grimy and hopeless, with Florida as the promised land, and the working people as sustained by bread and circuses.

American capitalism is seen as gilded-over feudalism, with the serfs essentially bound to the land (factories) and entirely dependent on the moneyed class, who could give a ****. A guy like Dunlop who tries to make something better merely amuses the elite, until he can be slapped down.

Braden, whose Princeton education is a ticket to the ruling class, rebels (what must his parents have thought!), has his bubble burst about hockey and life, and finally succumbs to the absurdity of a striptease, and his life takes a happier turn. The ending kinda seems to say that you are better off playing the system as it is then bucking it, and the town is left with a parade, and little else.

nihilistic ending indeed.
Yeah, I grew up on Long Island. The Ducks folded before I was old enough to remember, but my dad went to a bunch of games. He had some stories. And Dunlop basically is Brophy.

And yes, "bread and circuses" is exactly what I'm talking about with the history of spectator sports. Distract and divert.

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10-16-2011, 02:28 PM
  #47
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Part of me wishes that the movie wasn't just critical of these concepts but instead also offered a point of view on ways to fix it. As it stands, it almost has a nihilistic ending.
If democracy is the least terrible form of government, capitalism is the least terrible economic model. The European social welfare system appeared to be a viable model for a while but it's become clear that their credit spreads are devastating. The Chinese model looks daunting right now but it's completely unsustainable in its current form.

The problem with pointing out the significant flaws of the best system out there is that there's no concrete or tangible alternative worth offering.

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10-16-2011, 02:45 PM
  #49
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Originally Posted by FutureConsiderations View Post
If democracy is the least terrible form of government, capitalism is the least terrible economic model. The European social welfare system appeared to be a viable model for a while but it's become clear that their credit spreads are devastating. The Chinese model looks daunting right now but it's completely unsustainable in its current form.

The problem with pointing out the significant flaws of the best system out there is that there's no concrete or tangible alternative worth offering.
I'm not sure that Europe's economy is so much worse off than ours. We just had to borrow even more billions to bail out our too-big-to-fail banks and manufacturers just a few short years ago.

China's model is unsustainable, the USSR proved that. China simply lingers longer because they're a massive net exporter... which is because their goods are cheap, which is partly because their workers are horribly exploited.

I agree that I see no better alternatives overall, but I'm no economist.

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10-16-2011, 02:46 PM
  #50
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Wtf double post.

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