BY JEANETTE LENOIR
The highly anticipated installment of the Rocky film series, Creed III with Michael B. Jordan, came out in theaters last Friday and critics are already calling it a box-office hit. I agree, because it was a perfect artistic snapshot of our current social dilemmas. The storyline was strong and entertaining and the symbolism was expressive of the times we’re living in, especially through the two main characters. Their names, mannerisms, including the boxing colors and style worn by the protagonist and antagonist took a direct page from America’s social, political and cultural tug-of-war.
Jordan in white gloves and all white American flag boxing shorts, against Majors in black gloves wearing red, black and green African flag colored shorts. Their character names, Adonis and Damian is also symbolic of the competing white and black narratives of modern American identity; one socially structured to be seen as good, the other to be seen as evil regardless of the truth of the matter. In Creed III, Adonis is offered as the hero even though he ran away from the fight he started that landed his friend Damian, the villain, in prison. This film directed by Michael B. Jordan who plays Adonis Creed, is skillfully cloaked as entertainment but if you go beyond its surface, you’ll see that it also encapsulates our American struggles. Creed III is a symbolic representation of our social battlegrounds and the internal strife between Black folks still struggling for their fair share of the American pie and rightful place in the annals of American history. In this film arena the dueling gladiators are both Black, but Adonis is team White Spy.
If you’re familiar with Mad Magazine’s iconic Spy vs. Spy cartoon of the never-ending battle between black and white spies, than you won’t have too far to venture for this comparative analysis to Creed III. It’s your typical good versus evil drama full of suspense, folklore and life lessons; however, Creed III also captured the conscientiousness of our nation that dialogue and protest has failed to do, and today’s PC and woke culture has stifled. The film discreetly exposes the cavern that continues to divide African Americans into different cultural, ideological and economic groups. There are those who embrace Africa as the Motherland and only see a prosperous and unified future nation with the issue of reparations resolved and justice reached, to those who have lost their connection to Africa and instead pledge allegiance to claim a nation their ancestors built through chattel slavery as their new aboriginal home. A recent example of this is actress Raven-Symoné declaring that she sees herself as an American, not African American or even Black, arguing she has no connection to Africa.
Let me go further. It’s akin to the difference between Black folks in the north and Black folks in the south, the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, the ideology of Dr. Cornell West and Candace Owens, Jason Whitlock and Dick Gregory, Dr. Umar Johnson and Charleston White, 50 Cent and Oprah, Flame Monroe and Ts Madison, Jeffrey Star and Dylan Mulvaney. You get the gist. In Creed III the difference between Adonis and Damian is as stark as the opposing ideological paths traveled by Angela Davis and Julia Clarence Brown. Make no mistake, Creed III is not just harmless entertainment, it’s a folktale of the struggle for American identity and Michael B. Jordan as Adonis is no different than Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen Warren in Django Unchained. Both characters are fighting to preserve America’s white identity and white superiority.
The film ended in typical storytelling arc; the protagonist ends up on top maintaining his hero status and the antagonist ends up as most villains do in movies. Still, the symbolism and social tug-of-war didn’t end there. Creed III took up the gender debate as well after its release and the debut of Jonathan Majors (Damian) dressed in pink feminine frock on the cover of Ebony magazine, further fueling debate and the criticism that Black men in America are deliberately being emasculated by the entertainment industry. Creed III is parallel to the White Spy (Adonis) beating the Black Spy (Damian), and forcing him to wear women’s clothing and thigh-high boots on the cover of a Black magazine. And how ironic that Majors’, (Black Spy) last major movie role was titled, The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Regardless if you’re team White Spy or Black Spy, it’s time for us to stop fighting each other and other people’s battles, even if it’s for entertainment. Chris Rock in his timely Netflix special, Selective Outrage, said it best as he recounted his parents teachings, “Don’t fight in front of white people.”