April 23, 2002

The Scorpion King and The Rock

The Scorpion King is # 1 at the box office. It's not bad, but the only thing special about this medium budget sword and sorcery movie set in ancient Canaan (not Egypt) is wrestler The Rock, who looks well-poised to become the next action superstar. The bad guy in The Scorpion King is - prepare to die of surprise - an English-accented white man with Hitlerish-sounding intentions to impose "order for 1,000 years" on the "free tribes." The tribes, oddly enough, are each internally multiracial, which must be a surprise to anthropologists. Fortunately, The Rock is around to lead America (oops, I mean the free tribes) to victory over the English Nazi toff. Although it embodies the same racial conventions as other recent adventure films like The Time Machine and Atlantis - noble Tiger Woodsian multiracials battle Northern European oppressors - it's less schematic and more of a good-natured pastiche of ancient legends from all over.

I wrote an article last summer on wrestling, race, and The Rock (I know an awful lot more about professional wrestling that I care to, courtesy of my sons). An excerpt: "Race, of course, remains a potential danger spot in any American enterprise. Fortunately for the World Wrestling Foundation, it has found the perfect post-racial man in its biggest star, "The Rock," the wrestler who bills himself as "the most electrifying man in sports entertainment." A third generation pro wrestler, The Rock (born Duane Johnson) is a hybrid offspring of America's two most muscular racial groups. His maternal grandfather, Chief Peter Maivia, was the first Samoan star, while his father Rocky Johnson was the WWF's first African-American Tag Team champion. Yet, The Rock looks neither Samoan nor black. Instead, he gives the impression of being some sort of future human, a superbly handsome specimen from a race that will someday evolve from all that is most formidable in existing humanity."

No comments: