Friday, January 02, 2009

Unamerican Icescapades: Mighty Ducks 2

Not that I am in the habit of watching the highlights of the Emilio Estevez filmic corpus, but I did catch the last half of Mighty Ducks 2 today. I haven't seen an ice hockey movie since Mighty Ducks 3 in 1994 (a school treat - lord knows what I'd done to deserve that), so give it another 15 years and I'll have seen the trilogy.

Mighty Ducks 2 (or 'Revenge of the Duckies', as it's known in drag circles) is a perfect studio picture, straight from the modern Disney school of racial and gender harmony: the team is a Benetton rainbow, from the cornfed (Joshua Jackson) to the kid from the mean streets of South Central L.A. (Brandon Adams).

It should also be the perfect picture to push the pro-American bilge we have become used to, less subtly than Invasion of the Bodysnatchers but not quite as flag-waving as The Green Berets (good link here) or the Rambo series. It is, after all, about the Mighty Ducks kids hockey team at some global championship. U-S-A! U-S-A! etc.

What actually happens is rather unexpected. The team, playing in the final against evil Iceland (how much foresight writer Steven Brill had!), who cheat and steal [matches, not millions], cannot get up a head of steam in their America jerseys. Indeed, they are facing almost-inevitable-but-just-possibly-evitable defeat.

When Estevez, as their plucky coach with a puck-full of horrific hockey memories to exorcise, gives them an interval talking-to, he makes them name their home cities, to inspire them and make them realise who they really are. Heave, I know. The funny thing is, they re-emerge onto the ice wearing their Mighty Ducks jerseys, having junked the US ones. They then, of course, go on to win the match and the world championship, though this is surely violating the rules since there is no country of Mighty Ducks (outside of a Marx Brothers film). The audience scream, the signs flash up Mighty Ducks win, hoorah hoorah.

What this seems to say is that it is local loyalty, or club loyalty, or loyalty to one's friends, not blind nationalism, which gives the winning spirit. This is hardly the moral we expect from the Mouse House. Now if only this were more of a global guiding principle.

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