The Role of Class in Disney’s ‘Invincible’
Disney films generally tend to be thought of as family-friendly films with storylines that younger-aged children can enjoy. This is usually true, but some of these films touch into deeper issues that the younger audiences cannot understand. From the surface, ‘Invincible’ is the incredible story of a bartender that gets the chance to play professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles. This film, however, is about much more than a man that got a lucky break to play football at the pro level. It portrays the struggles of the middle class in Philadelphia during a time of economic depression and high inflation inside the city and the United States as a whole. The 1970’s were a tough time economically for the people living inside the United States at that time. Erling Sorenson, the Director at Donnelly Wealth Management, writes… “In his book ‘Stocks for the Long Run’, Jeremy Siegel referred to this period as “the greatest failure of American macroeconomic policy in the post-war period” (Sorenson 4). This period was also called The Great Inflation, as inflation rose about 20% from early 1972 until the early 1980’s. This caused the prices of goods to go up, leading to a greater percent of unemployment in the United States. This is very evident in ‘Invincible’, as Vince Papale, the protagonist of the film, is laid off from his substitute teacher position due to budget cuts. Several of Papale’s friends struggle to hold on to their jobs as well, as most of them are factory workers inside the city. Papale and his friends are a part of the working class in Philadelphia that struggle to get by on a daily basis, and the budget cuts by the public school system lead to Vince being temporarily unemployed. Luckily, one of his friends gives him a job as a bartender at the bar that he owns, ultimately saving Vince from losing everything. As Vince struggles to maintain a steady paycheck, his wife struggles to maintain their relationship. She eventually leaves Vince because she believes that he will never accomplish success, and she views him as somebody that would not be able to support her financially. This scene is pivotal to the film because it shows how run-down Vince’s house is without the help of his wife, as the entire house is empty except for the phone on the floor of the kitchen. This shows the audience how much Vince is struggling financially and how close he was to losing everything in his life. With nothing to his name except a kitchen phone and his bartending job, Vince was at his breaking point. That is, until he was offered the chance of a lifetime. As much as Vince was struggling to pay his bills, the Philadelphia Eagles NFL franchise was struggling in the NFL even more. They are shown at the beginning of the film getting blown out against the New York Giants, and the bleachers are nearly empty because the inflation and rising unemployment prevented most people from going to the games and spending money. This led their new coach Dick Vermeil to gamble by offering an open tryout to anyone that showed up to the stadium. Vince was reluctantly persuaded to try out by his friends, as he used to run track in high school. He figured that he might as well try out since his life away from bartending was in shambles. At the tryout, he greatly impressed the Eagles’ coaching staff with his fast 40 yard dash time of 4.5 seconds. This led to him being invited to attend the Eagle’s training camp with the chance of earning a contract with the team. This was a golden opportunity for Vince because it offered him the potential of financial stability from a long term contract.
Vince was more pressured to succeed than any other individual at the Eagles training camp. Others were trying to play the game they loved, and most had already played at the pro level. For Vince, training camp was the potential lifeline to take him out of the middle-class, where he...
Cited: Jehlen, Myra. "New World Epics: The Novel and the Middle-Class in America." Salmagundi: 50-52. Print.
Price, Angeline F. "Working Class Whites." Constructing Race. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
Sorenson, Erling. "The World as We See It." Donnelly. Erling Sorenson, 8 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. .
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