Friday, September 12, 2008

The Crane Kick Stance

People have already beaten the Rocky metaphor to death; lots of hot air spewed over the underdog overcoming the odds and emerging…well, not exactly victorious, for that fight ended in a bloody draw, but at least proud and redeemed. That’s inspiration we could all tap into, and why it was applied to Hillary during her rough and tumble campaign.

The underdog-fighting-to-overcome-the-odds has been an oft-used trope in movies and politics before and since Rocky, though there is one movie moment that manages to further distill that moment of inspiration in a manner better fitting the current political atmosphere: Daniel-san getting up after being swept off of his injured leg and struggling to get into the Crane Kick Stance before delivering the final decisive blow.

The reason this moment works better than other tired-movie-cliché-comparisons (i.e. - Luke using the force to destroy the death star; Rocky remaining in the fight; the Bad News Bears playing together to beat the team made up of jocks) is because it has its hero tap into his own honor and individual strength in order to emerge the winner; what could be more American than that?

It’s a weird bully/wimp dynamic, and god knows why it should be so effective, but it’s likely because we’ve been primed to react to it by decades of movie reinforcement. Think about it, the Right has enjoyed its influence largely by whaling upon the Left with trumped up accusation and fabrication after trumped up accusation and fabrication. The Left sticks by its principles and refuses to engage in such dirty pool, to which the Right replies by tackling the left and giving them a wedgie followed by a swirly.

It’s the Charles Atlas ad writ large. It doesn’t matter that we, the general public, know that the Right is being a bully, the fact that we see the Left wobbling around and not doing anything to get back lowers the Left in our collective esteem. The Left is doing nothing to help itself.

This last is supported by McCain’s rising numbers in the weeks before the conventions and in the week after the conventions as well. This is why McCain did not hesitate in bringing out Sarah Palin after being directly challenged by Obama during Obama’s speech; he didn’t want to wait a weekend to let America’s confidence in Obama settle and raise.

To go back to our hackneyed analogy, Rove was in the background yelling “sweep the leg,” in essence.

This is why it’s not enough for Obama to maintain the high road during this election. He’d keep the respect of the majority of the left, but the group of those in the center, the ones who are chanting “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT” in the political schoolyard would remain laughing, sneering and cheering on the bully.

The way to win over the center is not by solely catering to them, but by showing that not only could he sustain the blows the Right is throwing, he could land some damaging blows of his own, and when and if the opportunity arises, put the Right away for good.

Obama has shown us he is capable of doing it (not just in the DNC convention speech, but also this week during Operation: Maybelline), his campaign is promising a more proactive agenda for the weeks ahead. The very idea could be revolutionary. Let’s see.

Look for the Right to become even more desperate.


thelyamhound said...

What made that moment in The Karate Kid so cool is the moment before Daniel enters the ring post-injury. The announcer's chatting, someone comes up to whisper in his ear, and he says--not into the mic, but loud enough that the mic picks it up, "Daniel Laruso's gonna fight?!?!"

I'm a sucker for that shit. I'm tearing up right now, just thinking about it. Yeah, I'm a fucking pussy. So? You wanna say it to my face?

JJisafool said...

I think the negative side of what you're saying, TBO, is that we seem to want that kind of knockout punch, that "done properly? no defense" tactic. And there isn't one.

Oddly, I watched the last half of Rocky today, from Mickey going to his house to offer to be his manager on, and I think the appeal of that metaphor is about perseverance more than any part of the fight, and Rocky's innocence and sensitivity. He has so many lost puppy looks, leaves his internal pain clear on his face.

the beige one said...

I think the number of people expecting that knockout punch are few; I think most just want to see him punch back.

Joe said...

I think it's more like in The Porn Identity, when Bambi is just certain she can't take anything that massive and then Rod Pounders reassures her and then...

I'm sorry. I just get choked up every time I think of that scene.