Act III: So Which Boxing Movie WAS It?
The actual narrative at play was little-seen '90s boxing/entertainment satire The Great White Hype.
See: The Great White Hype
The Great White Hype is about a boxer, James Roper (Damon Wayans), who, as standing champion, is so good that no opponent wants to face him, and no networks want to carry his fights because they're over so quickly that they're boring. No one makes money on a fight that's over in 25 seconds. Reverend Sultan (Samuel L. Jackson) is a flamboyant promoter, basically the Don King of this boxing universe. He, like the media in this past election cycle, knows that he doesn't need to find an opponent who can beat the champ; he just needs to sell the public on the idea that he has.
He needs to tell a story.
"I want to tell you a little tale about an absurdly wealthy boy named Mitt, just like the baseball glove ..."
So Reverend Sultan plucks from obscurity amateur boxer Terry Conklin (Peter Berg at his best), and the hype parade begins. He releases a number of promos of Conklin (the only boxer to ever knock out Roper in the amateur division) looking tough and strong and intimidating. Roper, by comparison (insulted that he has to waste his time fighting an obscure idiot of a boxer), looks bored and lethargic. He doesn't take his training seriously. He doesn't cut any exciting promos. He doesn't even seem like he wants to fight. Just for good measure, Reverend Sultan plays up the race angle (Roper is black, Conklin is white), and it sweeps the whole nation up into a frenzy. Money starts pouring in.
Conklin rallies millions of fans who really see him as the one guy who could unseat the champ (and the millions of racists who see him as a white guy and are happy about it). He makes plans for his future and sees a world where he's the real champion. He sees how distracted the current champ appears, he buys into everything that Reverend Sultan feeds him and he steps into the ring with positivity and energy and passion and a strong overhand right and ...
And the multimillionaire ruling class underdog wins against all odds!
... is knocked out handily in one round. Handily. And that was always the plan. The Reverend (the media) builds up some poor, obscure schmuck who never stood a real chance of winning (Romney), and even though people think the current champ lost his edge (how many people blogged and screamed and scream-blogged about how Romney "devastated" Obama in the first debate, even though that debate was just average?), he easily won. The Reverend got the nation swept up in a story that wasn't real and made a ton of money doing it. The truth didn't change -- the champ still won, it still happened quickly, and the fight itself still wasn't interesting -- but the narrative changed, and that was all Reverend Sultan needed to do.
I'm not reaching to draw parallels just because I love The Great White Hype. It's not like I'm stretching the truth and bending facts to point out similarities between the 2012 election and Space Jam (which I could also do). The similarities are right there for anyone to see, even down to the race angle that dominated both the movie and the political dialogue of the last campaign season. If you want to go even further, you can say that Nate Silver was Marvin Shabazz (the legitimate voice of reason that no one was listening to), and Dick Morris was Jeff Goldblum's Mitchell Kane (the idiot who got so caught up in the hype that he backed the wrong horse and it likely cost him his career), but only say that around a very specific type of person. Which is to say, a person who knows The Great White Hype as intimately as he knows presidential elections. Which is to say, uh ... me.
Whelp, that's the least accessible joke I've ever used to end a column.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked's senior writer (ladies) and could make a legitimate case for Space Jam as equally representative of the 2012 election (GOP, or should I say, Monstars???).