The Hidden Messages in Space Jam
Space Jam tells the story of Swackhammer and his desperate need of new attractions at his amusement park, Moron Mountain. Swackhammer discovers the Looney Toons and is instantly intrigued to obtain them for the park. He sends his minions to capture Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Toons cast whether they wanted to go or not. As soon as they have them in their clutches, Bugs tricks them by making them agree to a basketball game in return for their freedom. Winning the game seems almost inevitable for the Looney Toons due to the substantial size difference, but the minions turn the tables by stealing the talents of current NBA superstars. Out of desperation, Bugs calls upon Michael Jordan to give them a reasonable chance of winning the game. From the beginning of the game it was clear to see that the Looney Toons were outmatched.
The overarching moral of the movie comes at halftime of the game in the locker room. They’re desperately losing the game and they have lost all determination to keep playing. As deceiving as Bugs is, he makes everyone believe that if they drink a water bottle labeled “Michael’s Secret Stuff” that it’ll give them the same basketball abilities as Michael Jordan. All they needed was a source of inspiration and for someone to take the initiative to get everyone to rally behind him. The most positive message to take away from this film is to find your own version of “Michael’s Secret Stuff” to fuel your drive to success. This drive is critically important in times where you’re at the abyss of failure and you need a stimulus to spark your fire. Even though this was a classic version of the placebo effect, if you set your mind towards success then there is virtually nothing that can stop your road to prosperity.
There are two very glaring negative messages that stick out to me from the film. The first adverse message it conveys is when Lola shows up to their first practice and all of the team members develop the misconception that since she’s a girl that she won’t be good at basketball. Bugs calls her a “doll” and challenges her to a game of one-on-one. In Bugs mind he believes that she’s a cute bunny that clearly has no right to be on the team. Lola on the other hand took the name of “doll” as a degrading derision and she wanted to prove her worth to the team. Lola completely dominates Bugs in the game, leaving Bugs in awe. This negative jab at women turns into a positive because Lola proves that women should never be underestimated in their athletic abilities. The other inimical message is the character of Swackhammer. Swackhammer is illustrated as the modern-day version of a slave owner almost. He captures minions to make them work for him for the rest of their lives and are forced to tend to his every need. Throughout the game he is physically and verbally abusing his minions for his own pleasure. Toward the end of the game he strikes a deal with Michael Jordan regarding the result of the basketball game. If the Looney Toons win then he must return the talents of the NBA superstars back to them, but if they lose then Michael must be chained up for the rest of his life while visitors on Moron Mountain defeat him in basketball. The villain in the movie will always portray a negative message, but the fascist style of Swackhammer is too aggressive for the audience that the film is being addressed to.
As a child, you’re never analyzing the movie thoroughly to obtain any messages that the movie is construing. These subjects are directed towards the parents to make them feel that their children are getting something positive out of the movie. Children’s movies are far more advanced than we typically characterize them as, but these topics aren’t easily understood until we mature.