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Rowing Is Still Posh Movie Sport


So, I was enjoying the first episode of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan this Sunday and in the first 5 minutes or so, I was the main character Jack Ryan (played by John Krazinski) rowing in Washington.

He does this as a hobby, early in the morning and before heading out to work. He does this solo and although it’s (the rowing) in less than a minute in the first episode, I had a huge dose of a flash back.

What kind of a flash back you might say? Well, from every white character I every drama about rich (often driven and highly ambitious) white dudes. Rowing is an elitist sport, I get that. It’s posh, it’s says upper class and in most cases people that are rowing in movies are rich white people that are usually either under a lot of stress (usually due high lever jobs) or they have something to prove. That they’re better than us? Maybe. That they have more money than us? Possibly.

But as I did a little research, I noticed that the characters that are usually rowing in movies and TV shows are rich, well-educated white males that belong to the upper class of western society.

Jack Ryan does it, and if you take a look back at the depiction of this sport in cinema, you’ll notice that Tom Hanks’s character rowed in Philadelphia. Bruce Willis’s character in Sixth Sense was a rower, Armie Hammer rowed in The Social Network (while he played the Winklevoss twins) and also Will Smith rowed in Enemy of the State.

But why is the portrayal of male characters rowing in movies and TV shows vital for their storyline? What’s the purpose of showing that the characters row and why it’s mostly a male dominated sport? How come there is none of the women doing that?

Yes, I get that some Universities like Oxford/Cambridge and Harvard/Yale have famous rowing races and they’re vital for showing sportsmanship, especially if the characters in question attend those schools, but what about the rest of them? What’s the purpose of showing a CIA analyst or a high end corporate lawyer lawyer pushing those paddles in a movie or a TV show? End furthermore, those particular scenes (with few exceptions) are less than a minute long. They don’t show exactly why the characters are rowing (other than killing screen-time), other than setting up the character’s routine/hobbies/spare time early in the begging. Yes, hose scenes are usually reserved for the first 15-20 minutes, and they’re basically „blink or you’ll miss them“ scenes. But why directors/screenwriters keep adding rowing in the movies, besides showing that the characters is high class posh white dude?

Does it makes the characters more distinguished in the eyes of the audience? Does it make him more athletic in the eyes of the audience? Does it show that he’s better than the rest of us? Who knows. Right now… All i know is that rowing is still a posh sport reserved for rich white dudes. Even fictional rich white dudes. Like Jack Ryan.


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