1990's, Analysis, black cast, Cameron Crowe, cinema, comedy, Cuba Gooding Jr., Film, Jerry Maguire, Movies, Regina King, Tom Cruise

Reinterpreting Jerry Maguire: Show Me the Money?

More than 15 years ago, I enthusiastically endured the Friday night multitude in Times Square to experience Jerry Maguire.  As a fan of Tom Cruise and writer/director Cameron Crowe, my high expectations were more than met.  The film was well written, well-acted, and the laughs came early and often.  I was particularly moved by the loving and supportive interplay between Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and his wife Marcee (Regina King).  Fully realized, multidimensional black characters are so rare, unfortunately, that such portrayals continue to be a welcome surprise.  I also enjoyed watching the friendship develop between Rod and Jerry (Tom Cruise).  Theirs was a relationship devoid of clichés and stereotypes.  Or was it?   

The pivotal “Show me the money!” scene dramatizes the differences between Rod and Jerry.  As the head of a close-knit family, Rod is shown in the kitchen with his wife, brother and son.  He is physically present and emotionally available.  Though on the phone discussing business, Rod supervises his son’s behavior and guides him to remove his plate from the table.  His family’s needs and wishes are Rod’s top priorities.  Jerry, on the other hand, is in his office isolated from others both physically and emotionally.  Jerry is concerned only about himself as he desperately struggles to retain his clients after being fired.

On the surface, Rod and Jerry need each other to salvage their respective careers.  As always, however, the subtext is way more interesting.  As you view the scene, imagine that Rod is in the same room with Jerry and positioned directly behind him.  Note Rod’s pelvic thrusts to the rap music and Jerry’s defeated posture.  What do you see?  Does the scene reflect any racially divisive fears, beliefs and/or stereotypes?  How does this affect the scene’s dynamics?

4 thoughts on “Reinterpreting Jerry Maguire: Show Me the Money?”

  1. Interesting commentary. Our tastes converge. However, I did not notice any racial symbolism while watching Jerry McGuire, other than Cuba’s hyperactivity. Will have to watch again. I am mostly watching foreign or independent movies from Facets, Sundance Channel or our library.

    Like

  2. Well, I have to say that this is one take that never crossed my mind. Do you feel the setup was overt on the part of the filmmaker? If so, what message were they trying to convey – that in order for Jerry to roll with Rod, he was going to have to be Rod’s “B*tch”? And if so…why? Was Crowe making a statement about the proclivity of Black males, or addressing an inherent fear of White ones?..or just men in general? On the surface, I get the distinctions drawn between Jerry sitting alone in his office vs. Rod hanging out in his kitchen at home; but with respect to the rape meme, is there some significance to be attributed to the fact that Rod’s family is present while he is abusing Jerry?

    Like

    1. Regarding your questions, I believe the filmmaker unconsciously reveals a deep-seated fear — a fear of being subjugated by vengeful black men. This is the fear that drives and justifies some law enforcement officers to use excessive force against unarmed black males and the unprecedented hostility towards the President. The presence of Rod’s family is an ironic twist considering our collective history, particularly during the slave trade when family ties were disregarded.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s