Every four years, we are treated to the greatest thing in the world: International Hockey. Also, given the fact that we were all raised in the 90s, any time two countries are playing each other in hockey, most of our memories are jogged back to the 1994 Goodwill Games as portrayed in the all-time classic Mighty Ducks 2.
I have many thoughts on this movie, and really the whole trilogy. Where was the Canadian junior squad? Who puts in a cold goalie for the opposing team’s best shooter, regardless of glove speed?
The most important, though, is how did Disney get away with billing this as a kid’s movie, when it clearly has significant undertones of socioeconomic opinions on the state of the conflict between inner-city and suburban neighborhoods of the upper Midwest in the early 90s.
At the core of this conflict is Adam Banks, and that is why this story belongs on these pages. You see Vincent Larusso, the actor portraying the (this fact is non-disputable) star of the teams, actually graduated from Boston University in 2000. My understanding, told to me by a source, is that the audience quacked at him when he was called. Finally, the silver bullet I’ve needed to record this important discussion:
Larusso’s Adam Banks was the protagonist of the class and culture war depicted in the film.
Ok, you’re saying. Dave, please explain this position. I will. Happily.
What do we know about district 5, home of the Ducks? Several single parents. Mr. Hall and Mrs. Conway both seem to be playing single parent responsibilities. Why is the father unemployed in the middle of the day – it is winter in Minnesota, so there’s no way it’s that light out any time after 4 p.m.? How can we help Mrs. (Miss?) Conway find a more stable profession. Where is Charlie’s father?
In addition to broken homes, the Ducks are at a significant equipment and facility disadvantage. I never saw the Hawks practicing outside, and we have to assume that the Panthers had least a locker room for all of them to get the measles (or, Anti-Vac parents, but that’s a different issue for a different time).
The Hawks, the bad guys, are loaded with a non-diverse team of talent, fathers with lawyers, equipment and a facility that they clearly own given the banners. So, we’ve set our initial premise – it’s rich versus poor, privileged versus not.
This is why our movie protagonists are really Gordon Bombay and Adam Banks, not Charlie Conway. It’s clear that Bombay and Banks are very similar: they both have had to take steps out of the upper class to join the Ducks, and they must first convince those teammates and players that they are one of them – against the 1%-ers on the Hawks – to prove it.
They call Adam Banks Cake Eater, explicitly demeaning their difference in class since, after what we learned in the French Revolution, the ability to afford cake to eat is a clear metaphor for status. Yet they are more than happy to accept his handouts of talent and skill to help them, a rag tag, yet diverse, group of individuals. Charlie scoring the penalty shot? Meaningless if Bombay and Banks cannot contribute their experience from upper class (Gordon) or skills (Cake Eater).
In fact, the undertones of Conway being a sub-standard player yet still being rewarded (did you remember anyone on the US Juniors saying, “No Charlie, stay suited up, we need you to play?), indicate that there is a sentiment of encouraging welfare and offering trophies for everyone. What motivation did Conway have for becoming a better player? None. That’s why he dropped out of his school commitment even after being given a free ride.
I mean, it’s basically like the Koch Brothers wrote it.
As you make your Knucklepuck and Triple Deke jokes during the Olympics, take a moment and think about what Adam Banks did for those Ducks of District 5. Our country should thank him.