Now that this year’s Academy Awards have been doled out, we are feverishly weaseling out potential contenders for next year’s race. In general, the biopic genre rarely has difficulty gaining critical attention any time of the year. However, the biopic Race does not look like a promising contender for next year. Race sheds light on sprinter Jesse Owens (Stephan James), who began his formidable running career as a track and field runner for Ohio State University before running in the 1936 Olympics, held in a chaotic Nazi Germany on the brink of war. Owens owes part of his success to his college coach, Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), who is portrayed as the stereotypical mentor leading his mentee down the path of hardships to the awards podium.
The Olympics open in twelve days. You could say that Beijing is putting the final touches on what it hopes will be a masterpiece, a sign of China’s rising power and ascension to an important global position. Yet these preparations have cut widely and deeply into the daily lives of those who live in and around Beijing.
We dropped the ball big time on this one. When the International Olympic Committee gave Beijing the 2008 Olympics, China was well-known for its abysmal human rights record. While the decision was being made, advocates for Beijing said that China would improve itself for the Olympics. They cited the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which was closely tied to South Korea’s process of democratization. Unfortunately, they failed to cite the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where several months before the Games started, Mexico’s authoritarian government brutally repressed student protestors. Democracy has a complicated and often uncorrelated relationship with the Olympics.