I don?t hate Space Jam. Heck, aside from the fact that it has a single female character who exists solely to be a sex object, I don?t have much of a problem with the film. It?s a genuinely wacked-out original premise (?Michael Jordan gets kidnapped by Bugs Bunny and friends in order to lead them in a basketball game against conquering alien forces), Michael Jordan is surprisingly good (unlike Steve Martin in the otherwise superior Looney Tunes: Back in Action, he knows not to try to out-act his animated co-stars), and the film works for its intended young audience. At the time of its release, November 1996, it was an honest attempt by a non-Disney studio (Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.) to create blockbuster animated films that didn?t necessarily follow the Disney mold. But that doesn?t mean LeBron James, who just signed a deal between Warner Bros. and his Spring Hill Entertainment company, should make a sequel to Space Jam his first priority.
First of all, because if I don?t mention this my regular readers will be sad, there are a couple reasons to be a slightly disheartened at the somewhat predictable news that the basketball superstar has inked a multi-project multi-media entertainment deal with Time Warner.
Yes, this is a case of a woman having a breakout smash hit and yet the male supporting actor being the one to most explicitly and most quickly benefit. Think the success of The Hunger Games turning Liam Hemsworth into a leading man worthy of starring in Independence Day: Resurgence, the success of Snow White and the Huntsman leading to a spin-off sequel not for Kristen Stewart but rather Chris Hemsworth, and the only breakout star to come out of HBO?s girls being Adam Driver . James was an added value box office element for Amy Schumer?s Trainwreck, and he?s quite good in the movie. Yet the film?s success rests on writer/star Amy Schumer?s shoulders and it?s a little predictable to see Hollywood racing to coronate the high-profile male co-star. It?s an ongoing pattern, where even a female-centric breakout smash leads to more opportunities for the male co-stars or male supporting characters than for the female lead.
The second issue is the fact that LeBron James is potentially yet another black movie star who emanated from another field prior to snagging high-profile film roles. Samuel L. Jackson has been complaining about this for decades, and it?s always bothered me as well. There are so few major opportunities in mainstream Hollywood features for minority actors that it?s a little annoying that so many of them go to former/current hip-hop artists (Will Smith), pop stars (Rihanna), R&B stars (Tyrese Gibson), sports stars (OJ Simpson), and the like. Throw Tim McGraw and Eminem back at me, but it often seems, no matter how much we value Terry Crews as a national treasure, that it?s easier for a black person to get a leading role in a major Hollywood film if he/she is a superstar in a different field first.
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