From The Last Dance to OJ: Made in America to understand the United States of today


I am next to those who report violence against black people and racism rooted in our country. We have had enough“. Thus begins the short statement released via social media by Michael Jordan, and who has seen the series The Last Dance, he knows how exceptional it is: the Chicago Bulls champion, undoubtedly one of the strongest athletes ever and one of the most famous African Americans in the United States and in the world, had never exposed himself politically before, even when, at the height of popularity , he could have helped a black Democratic candidate to wrest a post as governor of North Carolina, his home state, from an explicitly racist Republican veteran.

Republicans also buy sneakers“Was the statement that was then attributed to the player, even if he denies it today in the aforementioned The Last Dance, a documentary miniseries produced by the American sports channel ESPN and distributed internationally by Netflix, two episodes a week, throughout May. It was an incredible success, one of the most viewed series ever on the platform, certainly also thanks to the scarcity of sports content available in these months of virus stop.

The Last Dance tells the NBA season 1997-1998, the last one for Jordan and for the unbeatable Chicago Bulls formation formed, among others, also by the very strong Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr; the story of that championship is a frame that allows continuous leaps back in time, to retrace Jordan’s entire career (and, to a lesser extent, the others), and to vividly resurrect the culture and spirit of the 90s that today seem very far away. The Last Dance is a great entertainment and has the great merit of being able to involve, in addition to fans, even those who have no interest in basketball or, more generally, in sport: the deeds of Jordan & companions are told how an ancient would do legend and, at the same time, a series full of intrigues such as Game of Thrones. But, inevitably, it ends up touching Jordan’s hagiography and, significantly, the racial question is almost never touched – not even to remember how the powerful American sports industry is yet another territory in which white men, rich and powerful, exploit the bodies of black people, the subject of which High Flying Bird speaks, one of Steven Soderbergh’s latest films, also distributed by Netflix.

A few years ago, ESPN always created a much more revolutionary sports miniseries, unfortunately never distributed in Italy (but online you can find the DVD): OJ .: Made in America, which retracing the parable of O.J. Simpson, from the beginning to the court case to date, was concerned with framing the figure of a sports star in the American social context that he previously declared with arrogance “I’m not black, I’m OJ“And then ethnicity played a crucial role in the process and in the collective imagination.

OJ Simpson also deals with the first season of American Crime Story, on Netflix, and – always on Netflix – you find the very interesting (and in these days essential) documentary LA 92, about the 1992 Los Angeles riots. On the streaming platform , then, another must-see miniseries, to understand the protests of these days: When They See Us by the African American director Ava DuVernay, on the story of the five black boys wrongly convicted of the rape of a white woman in Central Park, to be watched in tandem with the XIII Amendment doc, by the same director, on the situation in American prisons. Just a few vision tips to understand how the protests came today, and why, without justice, there can be no peace.

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