Post World War II the American economy was experiencing one the greatest economic booms of its history. The war proved to be a successful intervention by the United States when Japan surrendered and Nazi Germany collapsed. During the War, Americans proved to one another that working together with a common goal can bring this country to new heights. The economy was booming, jobs were flourishing, but Jim Crow laws were also, still, in full effect. The movie 42 analyzes the boom that the sport of baseball was experiencing and the mighty risk that Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers would take. Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, saw how great African American players were playing in the Negro leagues during the 1940s and made a decision to bring one of its players, Jackie Robinson, into Major League Baseball (MLB), white baseball. The film tells more than just Jackie Robinson’s story to the big leagues, on the field at Ebbets Field, America during the late 40s - early 50s can be seen in full effect here.
The name Jackie Robinson speaks for itself. Almost everyone can identify him by his number 42 and his story to fame, the first African American in major league baseball. Baseball fans worldwide know Robinson’s story and know him as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He was the 1947 rookie of the year and 1949 Most Valuable Player for major league baseball. He accomplished baseball greatest milestones all during a time that Jim Crow laws were still fully practiced throughout the Nation. Many scenes in the film can show the adversity Robinson was faced with when signing his MLB contract with the Dodgers. The film attacks every aspect of pathos, ethos and logos. No scene attacks every viewer’s aspects of films than the scenes in Ebbets Field during which Robinson was playing.
Addressing logos in the scenes of Robinson’s game against the Philadelphia Phillie's in Ebbets field we start with the stadium itself. The stadium shows the economic level of America. Huge temples built to seat tens of thousands of people solely to watch a sporting event. The build and modern look of the stadium shows the amount of money owners and sponsors put into these stadiums for their teams and cities. It’s not known what day the game is played but baseball games were played all through the week at different times of day. In this scene it looks clearly to be mid-day and the stadium is full. Just ten years ago millions of Americans were suffering from the Great Depression and doing absolutely anything to get a job. Now, in the late 40s, Americans are enjoying their time off work, spending money on baseball games, and time at the games themselves. Being able to spend the day watching a sporting event means working 24/7 isn’t as important as it once was years ago. America was now able to enjoy itself. Thousands of people, of all races, filled Ebbets Field. I think 42 gave a really good view on the finer things in life people in America were enjoying in the 1940s, baseball, Americas past time.
Pathos and ethos are strongly addressed through these scenes. 70+ years later we still hear about some of the same problems that Mr. Robinson and the Dodgers Association dealt with. The baseball game scene stirs the emotions of viewers and gets them hooked on the issues with racism, segregation, equal rights, and a true passion for success. Robinson is the only non-white player in the entire league. Prior to the baseball games Rickey agrees to keep Robinson on the team as long as he plays the game and does not fight anyone back for any reason. When Robinson takes the field he is booed and insulted by the white folks sitting in the stands. The camera zooms in on an older man and his son. His son is excited and tells his dad he is thankful to be able to attend his first baseball game. The innocence of this kid is seen as he’s going to enjoy a live baseball game like millions of others have. The tides turn and the emotion of the entire scene change as Robinson runs on to the field. The kid is watching as everyone cheers for the Dodgers players, as they enter the field. Then the crowd turns to boos, insults, and racist insults toward Robinson. The kid takes note of what everyone and his dad does. His dad starts yelling racial slurs toward Robinson and it is followed by a “yeah, boo! We don’t want you here number 42” by the kid. What is supposed to be Americas past time and a symbol of America progress, it is all pushed back by scenes like this. Robinson could not fight back because he would lose his job. But more importantly he couldn’t fight back because the press would blame Robinson for everything that goes on. If Robinson reacted in any negative way to the tension, insults, and boos he would have sealed his opportunity to play in the majors and sealed the opportunity for all minority players from being allowed to enter the league.
The movie 42 makes us feel for Robinson and all his supporters. Consequently, the film exposes us to the bigger issues of the late 1940s and early 1950s that we may not have associated too much with baseball. Baseball shows how economically successful the country had been. But, it also showed how unfair and disgusting people were and the feeling they shared with a new and better change to the game and life.