Coach Carter

Highly Recommended. This is an amazingly preachy movie that I absolutely LOVED. Which in my mind only proves that being preachy in movies is not always bad if you preach a sermon well. It’s based on a true story about a black basketball coach of a high school in the inner city who seeks to discipline his players not only on but off the court. Samuel L, Jackson is superb as Carter. The theme of this movie is obviously that individualism is selfish and won’t lead to success. The key to successful living is to be a part of a team, where “if one person struggles, we all struggle. If one person triumphs, we all triumph.” It is also an excellent moral antidote to the ghetto hip hop culture that is controlling the minds of young people today with a complete disregard for authority and moral responsibility, and a worship of violence and hate. Coach Carter comes in, as a black man mind you, and teaches his mostly black players things you will NEVER hear in hip hop culture, but we all know he is right. From a BLACK MAN! This is beautiful! Like listening to Bill Cosby chastise the black liberal leadership in its failure to teach responsibility. He starts them out calling each other “sir,” for respect. He despises the use of the N-word by blacks, because “it’s derogatory. When a white man uses it, you wanna fight him, but then you use it of yourselves you disrespect yourselves and you make it easier for the white man to disrespect you.” He teaches them that basketball is good, but it is not more important than an education. It is an education that will free you from your impoverished past. Now, this is a bit too much enlightenment prejudice for me. The belief that education is salvation simply isn’t true. It is not mere “secular” education that changes a person, it is MORAL education that people need. However, everything that Carter is teaching the kids is precisely a moral worldview, so that balances the negative for me. Carter points out that the system is designed for them to fail because the expectations of the educators and parents are too low. They expect kids to fail and don’t raise the bar to challenge them to do better. Carter never believes this lie and believes the theme of the movie: “Growing up means making your own decisions and living with the consequences.” He disparages the blame shifting of most poverty oriented activism, he faces parents of the kids who are themselves undisciplined and unwilling to accept their kids’ responsibility for their actions. He asks the kids, “Look at your parents, and ask yourself, Do I want better?” Carter makes the kids sign a contract to play ball that includes wearing ties and jackets on game days, and that they will maintain a 2.3 grade average, which is higher than even the school district demands. But this is the grade average that will get them into college. When the kids start to accept responsibility and become better ball players, they get cocky and Carter commands them to stop “Trash talking,” to humiliate their opponents. This is just as disrespectful as anything else, and he won’t have it. It’s brilliant. I could not believe all this moral sense coming out of a Hollywood movie dealing with poor black kids. It was astounding. But when the kids fail to meet the grades on their contracts, Carter suspends the whole team and cancels games, even though they have become a winning team. When the parents try to fire him and complain, he tells them, “if you enforce the fact that they don’t have to keep a simple contract, you are sending them a message that they are above the law. How long then before they start breaking the law?” Again, truly unbelievable to find such truth in a Hollywood movie. One big negative for me was an anti-life message with abortion that contradicts the theme of the movie. One of the players has gotten a girl pregnant and they struggle with the reality that he can’t go to school and college trying to maintain a family. But he wants to try anyway. Okay, that’s cool. That’s reality. Let’s see how they overcome it. Unfortunately, the girl has an abortion and this is what is portrayed as solving all their problems. Now she won’t be on welfare and they won’t be saddled with a child while trying to go to college and they can still fornicate by living together on campus. Well, this is directly contradictory to the theme of the movie which says, “Growing up means making your own decisions and living with the consequences.” When those kids had sex, they were making the decision to risk a family. To kill the preborn child is an unwillingness to take the responsibility for their actions, and unwillingness to live with their consequences, but another juvenile way of selfishly thinking not of the “team” but of one’s self. And unfortunately, the movie presents this as a solution rather than the problem. It is the typical attempt to avoid the consequences for their choice of having sex. It is a selfish definition of children as unworthy burdens to be eliminated or destroyed. The devaluation of human lives is not responsibility, it is the height of irresponsibility. Not a single thought about the responsibility of adoption or even accepting the consequences and getting married or maybe refusing to fornicate anymore. This could have been a great moral lesson for the ball player to learn that he shouldn’t be having premarital sex because of all the responsibility that comes with it. But instead the filmmakers contradict their own theme because of their immoral agenda to support the killing of the unborn. But that said, it is a minor plot point, not the major one which is more important to the heart of the movie, so I am able to complain, while still appreciating the countercultural truths that the movie does promote.