Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Packers Film Study Session – Billy Elliot

One of the most pondered questions in life is what makes someone do what they do? Why is it that certain people continue to flourish while others just can’t seem to catch a break? Is it luck? Is it hard work and perseverance?

Whether true or just perceived, the Packers organization and front office comes off at times as a bit… corporate. Of course, a legacy of championships, history and millions upon millions of revenue dollars serves as proof of their substantial organizational and brand power. But despite all the self-confidence in the world, no one should ever be too sure of himself – just ask Ivan Drago how that worked out for him.

You can talk all day about being a professional, being prepared and flawless execution but what about awakening the inner beast once in a while? The same one that eats lighting, craps thunder and offers random barbaric yawps to the moon? Did you know the average age of this team is like 26, which is still on the cusp of adolescence and adulthood? And the perfect time to fuse brain with beast.

The key to understanding the Packers predicament and motivation lies in the seminal film, Billy Elliot (2000). This remarkable underdog story of an 11-year old aspiring ballet dancer stuck in the coal mining town of Evrington, Durham County, Northeast England, perfectly parallels with the Packers current situation. I’m even willing to bet very few within the organization have seen or heard of it, nor would they consider an independent British dance drama film the perfect spark to ignite the fire within their collective bellies.

Allow me to explain.

In the movie, Billy lives with his hardened father and brother, two coal miners out on strike. To toughen up his son, Billy’s father sends him to boxing classes, which also happens to share the gym with a girls’ ballet class. Unbeknownst to his father, Billy joins the ballet class and his teacher begins to believe Billy has the potential to study and the Royal Ballet School in London. But his father finds out, and his disapproval and sheer stubbornness extinguish whatever hopes Billy might have of becoming a professional dancer.

The Green Bay Packers are in a similar situation. Under the care and guidance of McCarthy, Brett Hundley remains trapped in an environment that on the surface would appear to look out for his – and his team’s – best interests but one that also suppresses potential. What if they unleash the reigns and he’s no good? What if he fails? These questions and others like them are aptly addressed in the film.
Photo taken by Jim Matthews, Green Bay Press Gazette
and PackersNews.com
Getting Billy into the Royal Ballet, you see, is only a metaphor for the taking that so-called leap of faith into the great unknown. McCarthy could turn back at any time, but it must be his conscious decision to lead Hundley – and the team – onto a new and hopeful path outside their comfort zones. This is no guarantee of success, but this action must be taken if any success were to happen at all.

This dilemma is precisely what Billy’s father eventually must come to terms with and so must McCarthy. If not, we know that Billy will languish in despair and grow up in the British coal mines like his brother and father before him. Similarly, we accept the fact that Hundley will also be stuck in check-down purgatory, never being able to blossom as a starting NFL quarterback, and giving the Packers no hope to overcome the cruel, unforgiving and inevitable losses that await.

A major turning point of the film shows Billy standing up to his father in the form of an impromptu dance, causing his father to drop his guard and see the potential that lies within his son. From then on, Billy’s father realizes he must do whatever it takes to get his son into the Royal Ballet School and acts accordingly.

In the final scene of the movie, Billy has long been accepted into the Royal Ballet School. We see his father (aka McCarthy) come to see what has finally become of his son (Hundley) during a performance of Swan Lake. A focused, stronger and more mature Billy gracefully leaps across the stage during the climax, thrilling the audience and astonishing his father. The “score” is irrelevant because the previous decisions that were made allowed us to be symbolically victorious. Whether that means winning games or just being competitive is to be determined…


4 comments:

  1. This is beyond inspiring. And amazing on a personal level. For over 40 years now I was convinced that my inner beast was the only one that consumed lighting. I felt vulnerable and alone when my monster gobbled up chandeliers. And high pressure sodium rigs. The appetizers that are track lighting.

    Thank you, Packerranter. You have made my psyche whole once again. The Packers? They remain lost.

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    Replies
    1. Ruppert, as always your perspective is both welcome and insightful. I am so happy this post has given you a newfound wholeness in life.
      However, while the Packers would seem to be lost at the moment, there is hope they, too, shall right the ship.

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    2. A_Lerxst_in_PackerlandNovember 9, 2017 at 3:01 PM

      I think a quote from the (almost) immortal Kurgan is also apropos here - "It's better to burn out, than fade away!"

      In other words, I'd prefer to lose with some Favre-esque INTs than with all check-downs.

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    3. Hell yeah, Lerxst. Really nothing to lose at this point I'd say.

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