Space Jam Based On Sacred Mayan Text?

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on May 27, 2010 2:40PM

2010_05_27_spacejam.jpg Via CINE-FILE contributor Michael Castelle, we learn of a mind-bending paper written by former Chicago gay rights activist and linguistics professor Michal Brody. She argues that the Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny flick Space Jam contains several uncanny parallels to the Popol Vuh, the sacred Mayan text detailing the ancient people's creation account. (The earliest surviving copy of this manuscript is actually in the collection of the Newberry Library.)

Here we quote directly from Castelle:

Consciously or unconsciously, the film's writers have developed a narrative in which a pair of heroes (Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan) 1) are summoned to play a high-stakes underworld ball-game against a variety of frightening villains, 2) manage to defeat those villains through the heroes' summoning of extra-human ability, and 3) ascend from the underworld with a glowing orb, all of which occur in the Popol Vuh. While the details vary (in the Popol Vuh, the heroes intend to retrieve the head of their father, Hunahpu; whereas in Space Jam, the villains have stolen the talent of NBA stars such as Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing), the congruence is remarkable. Brody also shows that the well-known phonetic irregularities of, e.g., Daffy Duck and Sylvester are quite analogous to those of ancestral characters in a variety of native cosmologies.

You can decide for yourself: read the full text of Michal Brody's paper after seeing Space Jam on the big screen at U of C Doc Films, Thursday, June 3 at 9:15 p.m. Aside from the possible Mayan similarities, the movie also features a funny cameo by Bill Murray and the classic R. Kelly song, "I Believe I Can Fly," though there are no known Mayan parallels to R. Kelly. That we know of.