The film 42 was released in 2013, it is a sports film written and directed by Brian Helgeland about the race segregation and the first African American baseball player Jackie Robinson. It is the PG-13 film. In the paper, I will analyse how film 42 depicts the racial difficulties Jackie Robinson faced during the baseball league and how the negative environment changed to the positive.
Due to the increment of black baseball fans, the manager of Brooklyn Dodgers Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decided to sign a black baseball player Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to make money for him. However, many people around him warned him that he was breaking the rules that no black can play with white. But Branch Rickey still signed Jackie Robinson, he did not noticed these oppose noise. At the beginning of the season, the players in Brooklyn Dodgers refused to play with Jackie Robinson even Jackie showed great talent, because Jackie was black. Branch Rickey was still supported Jackie Robinson, he even would traded the players who did not want to play with Jackie Robinson. During the season, lots of negative news and dirty words throwed to Jackie Robinson, but Jackie Robinson did not give up and replied. Jackie showed true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting the open Racism from outsides. As the time changed, most of the players in Brooklyn Dodgers started to change their views on Jackie Robinson. They were admired by Jackie’s patient and talent, and started to stand up for him when the audiences and other players said and did some dirty words and actions on Jackie.
When Dodgers played against Phillies during the mid of the season, the coach of Phillies Ben Chapman used a lot of dirty and racist words on Jackie Robinson. Ben Chapman did show that how most people react to when a black baseball player plays in the Major League Baseball. Jackie was very angry but he did not do anything, he just walked back to the bench and sat there. Branch Rickey saw that and heard what Ben Chapman said from stand, he said to his secretary Clayde: “It’s all right. He can take it. God built him to last.” (Film 42) When Jackie Robinson stood on the batting area again, Ben Chapman started to be more emotional and kept saying more racist words to Jackie Robinson. Jackie did not hit the ball well, and he just walked out the field into the tunnel. Ben Chapman shouted at his back: “Why don’tcha look in a mirror? This is a white man’s game!” (Film 42) It really showed the stereotypes on African Americans, and how stereotypes affect the perception of athletes. The law had been eliminated discrimination against black people long time ago, however, the conceptual discrimination and cultural discrimination against black people were still existed.
During the preseason games, Jackie Robinson successful stole the bases and ran to the home to score. Then the police on the field came and told Jackie to get off the field. The coach of the team came and asked why the police wanted to chase Jackie out of the field, the police relied: “Because it against the law. Nxxxxx do not play with white boys. Now you get off the field, or go to the jail. We do not allow nxxxxx mix with white boys in this city.” (Film 42) The discrimination on blacks still exist, it showed that most people could not accept black players to play in the Major League Baseball.
It showed how people react when Branch Rickey decided to sign a black player. His secretary Clayde asked: “ With all due respect, sir, have you lost your mind? Think about the abuse that you are gonna take from the newspapers, let alone how this is gonna play out in flatbush?” “No law against it, Clyde.” “No, but there’s a code, You break a law and get away with it, some people think you’re smart. You break an unwritten law, you’ll be an outcast.” (Film 42) Most people around Branch Rickey warned him about the media abuse and people’s react, but Branch Rickey did not listen to anyone else. Branch Rickey adhered to his opinion and he found out Jackie Robinson. When he first time met Jackie Robinson, he he was very rude and despise to ask Jackie Robinson if Jackie can control his temper when he faced the anger and the vitriol from others. Jackie replied: “You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?” “No. No. I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back. You gotta have the guts.. to turn the other cheek.” “Give me a uniform, give me a number on my back, I will give you the guts.” (Film 42)
Jackie Robinson successfully signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, however, everytime when Jackie showed up in the stadium, the buzzing and racist words started to throw at Jackie in all directions. The players in Dodgers were very offended when Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson. They decided to write a letter to Branch Rickey with all of the players’ names on it about they did not want to player with Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey told them if they did not want to play with Jackie Robinson, he would trade them to other teams.
Although, the audiences in the stadium, the players in the team and people from outside talked and did very disrespectful, racist words and actions. Jackie Robinson did not reply with his words, he showed his talent to all the people. When Jackie Robinson walked into the tunnels during the games with Phillies, he started to crush his bat and shouted out his voice dissatisfied. He was ireful and wanted to smashed his bat to the head of the Ben Chapman. Branch Rickey showed up, Jackie asked Rickey if he knows what that likes. Branch Rickey replied: “You are the one, living the sermons, in the wildness, spent forty days, all of it, only you.” (Film 42) Jackie said he could not do anything on that, Rickey said: “Of course you can it, you can get out there and hit, you can get on the base and score, you can win this game for us, we need you, everybody need you, you are medicine,” (Film 42)
If Jackie chose to fight against Chapman, people will not say that Chapman forced him to, people will think he is not belong to here. So Branch Rickey helped Jackie to soothe his emotions. Rickey knew that how much pressure Jackie had, and the abuse Jackie suffered, the only thing Rickey can do was to encourage Jackie, helped him to get respect from others. Jackie picked the confident again and walked on the field to batter, when Chapman tried to interfere Jackie with racist words again. Jackie’s teammate stood up and walked in front of Ben Chapman to let Chapman shut up. Jackie’s teammates started to stand up, they began to accept Jackie because of the patience of Jackie. Jackie used his action to showed that he is a great player, he scored for Dodgers to win the game.
After the game against Phillies, most people thought that Ben Chapman overdid it. As Branch Rickey said: “Sympathy. It’s a Greek word, means to suffer. I suffer with you. That Phillipida manger, he’s doing me a service. He’s creating sympathy on Jackie’s behalf. And phillipida is also from Greek, it means brotherhood” (Film 42) Many people changed their minds on Jackie Robinson and the teammates also accept Jackie.
Near the end of the regular season, Dodgers were taking on Cincinnati Reds. Cincinnati fans were giving Robinson a particularly tough time as the Dodgers took the field in the bottom of the first. However, this time, the captain of team, white player Pee Wee Reese came up and put his arms on Jackie’s shoulder. It silence the crowd because Pee Wee was from that area and he was a all-star player. Pee Wee said to Jackie: “ We are just here to play ball, I got family over there, I will let them know, know who I am. Maybe tomorrow we all wear 42, so they won’t tell us apart.” It was so hard to image that the captain, one of the best players in the team, a white man standed up for a black player at that time, in front of his family, in front of his people, to show the fans that the team will support Jackie.
Jackie Robinson was the first African American baseball player which played in Major League Baseball, he broke the boundary of the baseball, he is a hero. Many people changed their attitudes from disdain, rude to support and love due Jackie’s talent and patient .Every teams in MLB retired Jackie’s number 42 on 1997. He was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored, also MLB adopted a new tration, “Jackie Robinson’s Day” on April 15, started in 2004, every player needed to wear number 42 on every team to honor Jackie Robinson.