Film: Remember the Titans
"Tonight we've got Hayfield. Like all the other schools in this conference, they're all white. They don't have to worry about race. We do. let me tell you something: you don't let anyone come between us. Nothing tears us apart. In Greek mythology, the Titans were greater even than the gods. They ruled their universe with absolute power. Well that football field out there, that's our universe. Let's rule it like titans."
—Coach Herman Boone
A 2000 film Based on a True Story
about a Northern Virginia school that experiences an enforced racial integration in 1971, merging the black students with a white school and neither side being particularly happy about the arrangement. Both schools had a proud football team and now they are forced to come together and play as one team. In an effort to placate critics, they hire a new coach, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington
), to replace the beloved coach of the white team, Bill Yoast (Will Patton
). Boone disliked being hired over Yoast (having experienced some of the same racial politics in the past), but pleads with him to stay on as the defensive coach despite being qualified to take on head coach at nearly any school of his choosing.
Boone and Yoast lead the new team to training camp not far from Gettysburg and Boone enforces an integration policy that all of his players must abide by, the team will not separate into black and white "cliques." The various team members are fleshed out, with one of the strongest friendships form between the team captain Gerry and Julius, one of the leaders of the black side. The team eventually sees past color but once the season starts they find things to not be as easy outside the game. Despite this, they earn respect on the field and that unifies the town better than anything else.
Despite the title and the film being about football, it has nothing to do with the Tennessee-based NFL team
. Or Titans of the man-eating variety
This movie provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Sunshine gets a lot of accusations because of his hair and being from California. He then goes on to Troll his teammates by kissing Bertier and refusing to give Petey a straight answer when he asks.
- American Football: The sport that the Titans play.
- Bash Brothers: After initially butting heads, Gerry and Julius develop a tight friendship and formidable on-field presence.
- Big Eater: Implied. A restaurant puts up a sign that says, "Titans Eat Free". Followed by a montage of the Titans dining, followed by the same restaurant erasing the "free" part of the sign.
- Big Fun: Louis, who is the first white player to get along with the black players.
- Big Game: The championship is the climax.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: During one of the games, the cheaters aren't either team, but the referees: the game was rigged by an old boys' club, who were trying to make the Titans lose, which would result (pursuant to his contract) in Boone being fired and Yoast getting his head coach position back. This was arranged entirely without Yoast's involvement or acceptance, and about halfway through the game, Yoast talks to the head referee and demands that he call the game fairly, or the papers will know all about the arrangement before the night is out. The Titans end up winning.
- Chekhov's Skill: Minor instance — At one point, Sunshine is seen practicing Tai Chi outside school. In the next game they play, he uses the inertia of an incoming tackle to knock the opposing player on his back.
- There's also his throwing arm, which he first uses to pelt Gerry on the back from a distance after the latter heckles him when he arrives at the camp. He uses it to good effect in the same scene.
- Composite Character: Sheryl Yoast, Coach Yoast's daughter. The real Sheryl was one of four daughters Coach Yoast had, but they were okay with it. Tragically, the real Sheryl Yoast passed away just before the movie's release.
- David Versus Goliath: Averted. The T.C. Williams Titans, were, on paper, supposed to be the best high school team in Virginia. They were essentially an already very strong team that was adding dozens of African-American players, which very few other Virginia teams had at the time. Their struggles came not from their abilities or lack of talent, but from the racial tension faced from both outside and within. They ended up overcoming that tension and living up to their potential as one of the top high school football teams in the nation.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The movie pulls no punches about the racial tensions between blacks and whites at the time.
- Dumb Muscle: This is what Louis considers himself to be, until Coach Boone encourages him to seek a college education.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Invoked. Coach Boone got all the team members to work together by playing the part of the "Big Bad Coach."
"This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship. I am the law."
- Expository Hairstyle Change: When we first meet Sunshine, he has long, flowing hair. After he joins the Titans, Coach Boone has him cut his hair to a more manageable length.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The Titans. They went through two weeks of Training from Hell led to them developing a strong bond.
- Follow the Leader: The success of this film is probably right next to Hoosiers in terms of "influential sports movie." Glory Road, We Are Marshall, Coach Carter and The Blind Side are right in the same category.
- Also within Disney itself. With the box office success of Titans, it signaled the end of Disney's goofy kid-centric sports films like The Mighty Ducks series and ushered in a wave of serious sports biopics from the studio specifically aimed at older audiences, such as Miracle, Invincible, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and the aforementioned Glory Road.
- Foreshadowing: the use of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," about the death of a friend of his, makes perfect sense when contrasted against Gerry's accident — and the happy scene immediately before it when Boone's previous hostile neighbors give him a standing ovation.
- Graceful Loser: The coach of the Titans' opponent in the state finals.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gerry and Julius friendship becomes their most important relationship in the film. Gerry, for instance, clashes with his own mother over it.
- I Know Madden Kombat: Inverted by Sunshine as mentioned above.
- Military Brat: Louie Lastik and Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass. Ronnie's father, for instance, insists his son to play for the Titans instead of any of the nearby but segregated schools because "if they can fight a war together, they can play football together."
- Miracle Rally: A case of Playing with a Trope. The Team starts to fall apart during a game due to racial tension but they still win without one these, but several players recognize that they need to come together for the next one or they will lose for sure. So they stage one of these between games.
- Mood Whiplash: A victory celebration suddenly and abruptly leads to Gerry's car wreck and crippling.
- A more subtle one occurs earlier when the Titans' bus returns from training camp. The boys are all singing together like the Fire-Forged Friends that they've become — and their still-racist parents are waiting and wondering if they've been brainwashed.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Yoast stopping the rigging of the semifinals results in him being banned from the Hall of Fame and being declared a "race traitor" by his former peers.
- Nothing But Hits: Late '60s/early '70s classic rock and soul and done well. When things look bad for the Titans, the film's original score (by ex-Yes member Trevor Rabin) is used. When things begin to go their way, classic rock begins playing.
- Only Sane Man: Louis starts out this way despite his "dumb jock" persona, as initially he's the only guy who just wants to play football and doesn't care what his teammates' look like.
- Opposing Sports Team: Played With: The Titans' semi-finals game puts them against an openly racist coach and biased referees. The opposing team in their final game, on the other hand, show no racial prejudices and are just very good. The coach even comes out on the field after they lose to shake Boone's hand.
- Physical Fitness Punishment: As part of Coach Boone's Training from Hell, anyone that misses a pass or a block assignment has to run a mile. Anyone that fumbles the ball gets a Groin Attack from Boon himself and then they run a mile.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Boone calls Yoast out on going easier on the black players.
Now I may be a mean cuss. But I'm the same mean cuss with everybody out there on that football field.
- Pretty Boy: Sunshine. He got wolf whistles upon entering camp and is rather popular with the girls in school.
- Rousing Speech: Several by both Coaches, such as the page quote.
- And by some of the players when it looks like the team's about to fall apart from everyone else's racism.
- Sadly Mythtaken: The speech in the page quote, where Boone tries to inspire the players to follow the example of their mythical namesakes, who were "greater even than the Gods". He's apparently unaware that, in Greek Mythology, the Titans were actually the predecessors of the Gods who were eventually overthrown by them, and the leader of the Titans, Kronos, was a murderous ragehead who was killed by his son after he tried to cannibalize his own children. He's not the best role model for a team captain. Although the part about that the Greek Titans being overthrown because of a betrayal, like both Petey and (nearly) Boone, is a Genius Bonus.
- Starts with Their Funeral: The film opens and closes with the rest of the characters attending Gerry's funeral, although we don't find out whose funeral it is until the end of the film.
- Stereotype Flip: When the police officer pulls up next to Julius walking through a white neighborhood only to congratulate him on a well-played game and wish him luck. It's not what you'd expect from a Virginia police officer in the early '70s.
- Stress Vomit: Boone does this before the first game. He's nervous because one loss will end his new coaching job.
- Title Drop: "…they will always remember the Titans."
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sheryl Yoast and Coach Boone's daughter Nicky, whose initial hostile relationship is less about race and more about c;ashing personalities. Nicky's response to Sheryl's offer to play ball with her: "I just did my nails"). While they don't became best friends, they do get along better by the end.
- Training from Hell: Boone's football camp was rough, but it was less the physical stress than the racial integration he forced everyone to be involved with. However, this is not to say that the physical part was a cakewalk.
We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts… and then you will run a mile.
Perfection. Let's go to work.
- True Companions:
(Julius has just showed up to visit Gerry in his hospital room)
Nurse: Only kin's allowed in here.
Gerry: Alice, are you blind? Don't you see the family resemblance? That's my brother.
- Washington, DC: T.C. Williams is in Alexandria, VA, right across the Potomac from the District.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: If this Deadspin article is anything to go by, the only thing Remember the Titans got right was that the Alexandria team was unquestionably good, and that Boone was an assistant coach. Almost everything else was altered to fit the screenplay writer's vision, which clashed numerous times with the actual events. For starters, Denzel Washington's portrayal of Boone was far more heroic and idealized than the actual man, whose only egalitarian qualities is that he treated all of his players equally terrible (one critic claimed Washington's version of Boone was a cartoon). The championship game was a Curb-Stomp Battle instead of a classic nail biter, and the Titans's success had more to do with a three-school merger hitting the lottery with its talent pool than any coaching on Boone's part. The racial turmoil and hate crimes portrayed in the movie was also very exaggerated, and the town had no real animosity towards Boone's family. The real life Boone more-or-less took advantage of the movie white washing his terrible behavior (which eventually led to the team mutinying against him) and mimicked Washington's portrayal of him for his public persona, which he used for "inspirational" speaking engagements for the past decade, which often paid him between 10-15K per visit (including one by Barack Obama in 2007!). When taking all the half-truths together, this puts the movie's tagline, "history is written by the winners", in a hilariously ironic light.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The credits contain clips of what the Titans do after the season captured by the movie. Also, the racial turmoil portrayed in the movie was exaggerated, for the most part, as the school.
- Who's Your Daddy?: Coach Boone towards Gerry, in order to make clear to Gerry who is in charge after Gerry tries to dictate to him how the team should be organized. What's worse, he makes Gerry say that Coach Boone is his daddy, in front of his own mother. Gerry and his arrogant attitude brought the humiliation on himself.
- Women Are Wiser: Played with. There are mothers who clearly against racial integration, women are among the people who make nasty comments about Coach Boone when he first moves into the neighborhood, and Gary's girlfriend Emma is racist (at least until her Heel-Face Turn late in the movie). On the other hand, though, the white girls at T.C. Williams seem much more accepting of black people than their male counterparts: a group of three white students fawning over Sunshine talk to Petey without a problem and even try to keep their boyfriends from beating him up (albeit unsuccessfully), and the integrated cheerleading squad seems to lack the problems the football team has. Teen Girls are Wiser, perhaps?
- Your Mom: Done as an informal team building gag.