Hope for a Hopeless Generation.

Ideology, politics and journalism, which luxuriate in failure, are impotent in the face of hope and joy.
-P. J. O'Rourke

Hope. It's not something readily available at your local Wal-Mart. Today's culturists would actually have you believe it's dead; something only naive idiots believe in before they're runover and wise up to the horror that is real life. Every movie that comes out is just another "mankind is evil" nightmare, another Sweeney Todd where innocence, sweetness and optimism are laughed at and mocked. Like that crap song says:

"Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked,
Money don't grow on trees.
I got bills to pay,
I got mouths to feed,
There ain't nothing in this world for free.
I know I can't slow down,
I can't hold back,
Though you know, I wish I could.
No there ain't no rest for the wicked,
Until we close our eyes for good".
-Cage the Elephant

Well, I say "Nonsense!" And I've been trying to yell "Nonsense!" until my throat is sore, but sometimes it gets wearying. And that's why I, and millions of other people around the world, love a man named Rocky Balboa.

Go the Distance

If all you remember is the song, the exercise and "Yo Adrian!" then maybe it's time for a re-watch. I just finished the full 6 (on blu-ray baby, yeah!) and I'm here to tell you that these movies are not the joke people think they are. At least, not the joke all those hopeless, tiring windbags in the media, politics, and wherever else would have you believe.

This is a grand display of hope, and it's so contagious that even The Academy gave it Best Picture in a time when cinema was even more deprived of hope than it is today: 1976. To prove my point, other nominees that year included Taxi Driver and Network. And the fact that it takes place in Philadelphia, one of the more hopeless places on earth, is even more of a miracle. Having lived in Philly for 18 years, I can attest to the impact this movie had (and continues to have) on the entire city. We want our Rocky Statue at the top of those stairs!

It seems to be an accepted theory that the more horrible something is, the more real it is. If it isn't dark and depressing and mean then it's somehow a candy-coated lie. The 6th and final movie (which is best watched after the rest) gives a very clear example of what Rocky thinks of this theory.

Rocky is set to fight the newest heavyweight champion who knows no fear. He's the underdog once again, and as the lights go up, a blasting rap song comes on. Here comes the champ; dark, serious and mean. Life is a struggle and this guy knows it. Now it's Rocky's turn. What music does he choose? How does he counter the harsh reality of his opponent's demeanor? Why, with "High Hopes" by Frank Sinatra of course, and I've been humming it for days since.

All I'm trying to say can be summed up in this quote by Alexandre Dumas and this video which runs during the credits of Rocky 6. No matter how silly or dumb you think it is, or how seriously you take yourself, watch it and just try and keep that smile off your face.

"All human wisdom is contained in these two words:
'Wait and hope.'"

-Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo