Joe Louis America’s Hero… Betrayed by Joe Lavine is a sports documentary filled with propaganda from beginning to finish. Joe Louis was an African-American born on May 13th of 1914 in Lafayette Alabama. Also, as a black male, his ancestors came from generations of slavery until his great-grandfather. Louis was the eighth child of Munn and Lilly Barrow. Concluding there would be financial issues to support the family. Joe had to take on several jobs at a young age; however it was the only way to survive.
Eventually the family moved to Detroit, where Louis started working at the River Rouge plant of the Ford Motor Company (Joe Bio). As a teenager, Louis’s grandmother would pay him 25 cents to take violin lessons; nevertheless he then discovered he enjoyed boxing more. Eventually his grandmother understood he enjoyed boxing more and encouraged him to be the best he can. The first scene where propaganda is shown is in Louis’s debut fight where he gets knocked down seven times but he still manages to stand up. In conclusion, this demonstrates how courageous and brave of a fighter Joe Louis rose up to be.
Louis fought over 50 times as an amateur and won the golden glove title and found out that he had a lot of confidence in boxing. (film) Later in the film Louis signed a contract with Mike Jacobs and eventually hired Jack Johnson to nurture Louis as a boxer. Johnson most described as a rich bitter man, an alcoholic and ex- prisoner who served time in jail. But most importantly the best black male heavyweight boxer of his time. However another form of propaganda shown in the film was a picture in the newspaper of Johnson eating a fruit, but the heading said “This is proof of the danger of having a black man have a real opportunity.
Meaning that Johnson was reckless, he dated white women, flaunted his wealth, made fun of his opponents and had this smile that overpowered others. During this time racism was still evolving and whites did not like what he was doing (film). However, when Louis decided to be part of boxing whites did not want him to turn out being like Johnson so they developed a set of rules for him; He was never to have his picture taken with a white woman, he had to be humbled and to not laugh at his opponents.
When Louis became a Pro he won his 12 fights and 10 by knockout. During this time newspapers were making Louis seem as the best fighter of his weight class. Newspapers headlines were being titled “Watch Mr. Louis if you want to see a champion. ” This provided more viewers to be aware of whom loe Louis was and that they should come watch him. By 1935 Louis had won 22 fights without a loss but had little to no chance of becoming a champion. Louis promoter named Mike Jacobs arranges a fight at Madison Square Garden against the 6’6 265lbs Primo Carnera.
After, Louis defeats Carnera; he became the epitome of racial pride for blacks. In conclusion an article on the film said that “Joe Louis should never be a champion. ” This is another form of propaganda because they believe Louis will participate in race riots and disturb the structure of the United States (film). Since racism is a major controversy during this time the media would not call Louis by his name because he was still a black before being a boxer. Louis was called hundreds of names but the one most used was “The Brown Bomber.
They would stereotype him as a cheap, lazy, dark male, but in reality Louis worked hard as an athlete; harder than anyone of his time. Again, propaganda is shown here by discriminating blacks and degrading their potential value (film). In addition, during the time of depression Louis was seen as a savior of boxing for blacks. Louis most important fight of his career came when he had to face Max Bear. Louis first million dollar fight with 95,000 people watching, he defeated Max Bear and became the people’s hope. During 1936 Joe was matched against Max Schmeling a German boxer who ended up defeating Louis.
The propaganda that was introduced into headlines and posters elevated Max’s reputation in Germany off the top and earned the adoring praise of Adolph Hitler. Schmeling was seen as a hero and demonstrated Germany was the best country. Louis on the other hand had to face public failure and now was no contestant for the heavyweight title against James J. Braddock. Luckily for Louis, Jacobs his promoter got Louis a chance with Braddock in the ring. This was the start of a moment in history where blacks reached a milestone moment by getting a chance to the heavyweight title in 28 years.
During the fight Louis battered Braddock down and became the new champion. A picture of Louis standing victorious over Braddock, who was Tying down on the floor made Louis look like a hero of the people, like a God most would say. Newspapers came out within hours and propaganda made it look like blacks were the strongest people in the world (film). Being able to have a rematch against Schmeling, the propaganda shown was directly proposed to be a fight between a Nazi and an American fighter. Louis was called “The American hope,” an emblem of American democracy for the whites.
During 1938 when the Nazis were taking over Austria, the city they were in was covered by German flags as well as Nazis are marching the streets. The film reflects to Schmeling as “Goliath” and Louis as “David. ” This was the biggest fight built up that anyone has ever heard. All the propaganda that hyped up the fight only made the contenders work harder, ultimately making this fight an international event. Louis was carrying his country behind his back and Schmeling was carrying the Nazis. The world’s biggest fight was seen or heard by over 110 million people.
The announcers are going crazy at the end of the fight when Louis defeated Schmeling, everyone was praising him because Louis was now someone phenomenal; a hero against the Nazis, translating to how the Nazis were going to be defeated during WWII (film). Joe Louis was now the most recognizable man in America and had “godlike invincibility in the ring,” said the narrator. After becoming champ in 1937 Louis had successfully defended his title 18 straight times. Most of Louis revenue came from propaganda as well. Since Louis was a huge iconic figure people would pay lots of money to see him fight.
Jacobs his promoter took advantage of this too; deciding to raise the prices of the tickets sold (film). During the Pearl Harbor attack on Hawaii Louis wanted to help out the country in some way. Louis gave all the money he won from two fights and donated it to relieve funds. This is also another way of propaganda to give an intuition so people can donate money as well. Louis also decided to enlist to help people that were fighting for our country. One of the famous lines that Louis said was “we are going to win because we are on God’s side,” while raising money for the soldiers because he believed the nation is going to be on top.
Louis was an image of patriotism for the soldiers; everybody wanted to be as good as him. Soldiers were not happy with how they were being treated by the army so they would talk to Louis and he would talk to Truman to fix everything. Hence Louis is also being used by his people to receive more accommodations (film). After the war was over propaganda came to place again, newspapers headlines would say Germany surrenders to the U. N. Which meant everyone can now celebrate and enjoy a peaceful life. With the war now over, Louis life was not the same as it was before.
His trainer had died and his manager was sent to prison on gambling charges. Louis portrait of a rich man with a happy wife and happy kids was now a fallacy. Louis now owes hundreds of thousands of dollars because he spent so much money on the soldiers that he became in debt to the government. Louis wife got a divorced from Louis and took the kids with her. The government was now taxing his income at 90% which meant he could not retire until aving paid all his debts. Louis now needs to make money to pay back the $500,000 he owes the IRS.
Louis uses propaganda to sell products he created. Louis had sold out liquor, cigarettes, and a Jolouis Punch. Unfortunately Louis was not very smart when it came to sales and when asked what his favorite drink was he answered “Coca-Cola. ” Being the ex- champion of the world, people had lots of respect for him, trying to use propaganda on his favor, he accidentally said the wrong drink for his campaign and people turned out buying Coca Cola beverages instead (film). Louis tried wrestling, but mainly because that was one way to make money.
The media criticized him for doing so as “tarnishing the image of pro wrestling. ” After being a heavyweight champion in boxing. The IRS immediately took his money and now everything that Louis had done for the country during the war and his patriotism was not remembered when the IRS came looking for his money (film). The greatest tragedy that happened to Louis is that Coca Cola decided to hire Max Schmeling a German with Nazi association was hired and made him a millionaire while Joe Louis a symbol for democracy and bravery would wind up with nothing.
Louis was a hero to African-Americans and a very quiet, soft spoken person. Louis then became a drug addict, an alcoholic and suffered from depression. After being hospitalized for seven months Louis then died at the age of 67 in Las Vegas, Nevada (film). This film can be read as propaganda from the very beginning. The film maker persuades the audience in a clear way by stating that a black male can become something in life but it does not always mean that the character will live a glorious life.
The film was very effective in showcasing how propaganda helped the business of boxing become such a huge entity. Also, the emotion shown throughout this film captures the viewers into contemplating all the hard work Joe Louis had to overcome and then end up in huge debts after being such an iconic image of patriotism. Demonstrating that the government does not care about what people have done in their past, it is still a corrupt system that only values the money they get.