• Winning and losing respect: narratives of identity in sport films

      Whannel, Garry (Taylor and Francis, 2008)
      This essay examines sport films in terms of respect, identity and individualism. It suggests that a common narrative structure in films featuring sport based stories involves the winning, or sometimes losing, of respect. Success in narrative terms is not so much associated with sporting victory as in winning the respect of others. Through these narrative structures, issues of identity are explored. In particular, the narratives trace the ways in which characters respond to challenges by changing. In this sense these films are rooted in an ideology of competitive individualism which is a distinct product of capitalism as it developed in the United States of America. So while women, Jews, Afro-Americans and British Asian girls all find fulfilment through the narrative journey of these films, it tends to be within the terms of the competitive individualist ideology. Only where the concept of respect and its association with sport performance is challenged or questioned do sport films tend to raise more profound questions about the individual in society.