'42' Movie Trailer: Film, Jay-Z Song Inadequately Honor Jackie Robinson


Impatiently waiting on Cherry Blossoms like they're a divine right, noticing chirping birds for a nanosecond before ducking into a cavernous office complex, and enthusiastically celebrating the painful existence of Jackie Robinson. These are the telltale signs of another spring manifest.

Mostly the Jackie Robinson part though.

On April 12, the movie 42, about the life and times of Robinson, will be released nationwide and to critical acclaim (of this I have no doubt). On April 15, Major League Baseball will once again celebrate Jackie Robinson Day like we're all well-adjusted and living in an entirely equal society.

These things are epic. They are monumental. They are signs of how far we've come as white people. I cannot laboriously and forcibly drive that point home hard enough.

And they totally would not exist if not for crippling bigotry perpetuated by institutions like Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the government, and, oh, like our very own ancestors and stuff.

So in a way, celebrating Jackie Robinson and his legacy is, more or less, celebrating the prejudice and discrimination that made his story possible. Simply put, he broke the color barrier because there was a color barrier in place. And now we make movies and annual holidays about him. Peculiar, isn't it?

Really, it's not about Jackie. It's about making ourselves (mostly meaning white folks) feel good about where we are now. Those of us living and calling shots today can look back on those that came before us, scoff, and then prove how much better we are with neat inspirational productions. This is the secret engine of progress.

That's not to say Jackie Robinson shouldn't be celebrated; he's a hero. He was a mightier man than most, and he kicked open the flood gates on society in the 40s. We should celebrate his legacy in more profound ways than a profit-driven movie with a cool Jay-Z soundtrack and a token pseudo holiday.

And yes, I have ideas:

1. Change the name of Major League Baseball to The Jackie Robinson Baseball League Made Possible by Jackie Freaking Robinson (JRBLMPJFR).

2. Make all players wear the number 42 all the time. Not just on one day.

3. Incorporate vitriolic hazing, stone throwing, and crippling isolation into the minor leagues.

4. Factor in yearly monetary contributions from the MLB's revenue-sharing system to similar contemporary causes (uh, gay rights, anyone?).

5. Move the Dodgers back to Brooklyn. I'm just saying.

In the meantime, as eye-roll-inducing as they are, I fully support celebrations like 42 and Jackie Robinson Day. My time, attention, and money make some sort of difference, and, self-centrically, make me feel good about myself and my place in society.

Baby steps, I guess.