Pop Culture Gauntlet: The Karate Kid vs. Miles Davis

January 04, 2010 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Welcome to Pop Culture Gauntlet, where people, places, and things from various subjects face off in a virtual cage match. As part of an ongoing series we will bring you new battles each week between randomly selected items from the Thunder Matt's PCG database. We will provide you with a brief background of both competitors. After reading, you can then vote on your choice in the poll located in the right sidebar column. Monday battles will run until 12am Thursday. Thursday battles will run until 12am Monday. Also we welcome any arguments for either competitor in our comments section. May the best man, thing, or whatever win.

Today's match: The Karate Kid vs. Miles Davis

The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid was released in 1984. The movie follows Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio), a high school kid who moves from Jersey to Reseda, California. He's a skinny wuss who quickly becomes the target of a group of toughs who all practice karate at the Cobra Kai dojo, run by a psycho named John Kreese (Martin Kove). To make matters worse, Daniel falls for Ali (Elizabeth Shue), a rich girl who just happens to be the ex of the #1 Cobra Kai, Johnny (William Zabka). Daniel finds a friend in the mysterious Okinawan handyman who maintains his apartment complex. Mr. Myagi (Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita) agrees to teach Daniel karate after saving his bacon by beating up the entire group of Cobra Kais. In order to secure protection for his young student, Miyagi agrees to enter Daniel in the same karate tournament the Cobra Kais regularly dominate. Thus follows the strangest karate training ever as Miyagi has Daniel wax his collection of antique cars, paint his fence, sand his deck, and paint his house, all with very precise instructions on how is supposed to perform these tasks. It turns out that all this manual labor Daniel has been doing is actually teaching him the defensive moves he needs for the tourney. In the meantime, his relationship with Ali goes up and down and Mt. Miyagi gives him a sweet convertible for his 16th birthday. One drive in the car, and everything is apparently forgiven. Daniel also sees Miyagi performing a stylized kick on top of some old deck pilings on the beach. This is apparently the "Crane Technique" for which there is no defense (except in the second movie, where it fails miserably). Cut to the tourney and we're treated to one of the best montage sequences in film history, set to "You're The Best", a quintessential 80's song, perhaps topped only by the incredibly homoerotic montage in Rocky III. Being as this is an 80s movie, Daniel naturally wins the tournament with the Crane Technique, but not before Kreese plays some dirty pool and has one of his boys attempt to cripple the Jersey kid.

Strengths: Mr Miyagi, "sweep the leg", montage of awesomeness, "wax on, wax off", the Crane Technique, and perhaps most importantly, Elizabeth Shue.

Weaknesses: Daniel's whiny ass, Jersey, the fact that many Americans view this movie as great insight into Japanese culture, the three sequels-one with Hilary Swank(!)

Fun Facts: Pat Morita was intially turned down for the Mr. Miyagi role. Elizabeth Shue left Harvard to do this film. "You're the Best" was supposedly written for Rocky III, but was rejected in favor of "Eye of the Tiger" (Thank you to imdb.com for fun fact info)

Miles Davis
Miles Davis was one of the most influential, if not the most influential jazz musician of his time. His trumpeting style prompted a plethora of imitators and throughout his life he stayed on the cutting edge of jazz. Miles was part of the jazz evolution as it transformed from cool jazz to bop. His modal compositions on albums like Milestones and Kind of Blue lifted the music to new heights. He experimented with funk on On the Corner and fusion was partially born from the ambitious Bitches' Brew. Some of the best jazz musicians of the time served in his groups, among them John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers, Wayne Shorter, Elvin Jones, Art Taylor, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and many, many others.

In many ways, Davis was one of the first African-American superstars. He could be arrogant and dismissive towards fans, and with few exceptions, didn't really care for white jazz musicians. Like many jazz musicians, he suffered from a heroin addiction, but was able to get clean. His influence and legacy remain one of the lasting forces in jazz, Kind of Blue perhaps being the best known jazz album of all time.

Strengths: Soulful trumpet playing, the Coltrane years, helped define bop and invent fusion, successful African-American before the Civil rights movement, lasting influence, Kind of Blue.

Weaknesses: Hated Whitey, helped invent fusion, arrogant, was cheap when it came to paying his band members.

Fun Fact: Davis had recorded an album for Columbia while still under contract to Prestige Records. He owed Prestige four albums, so he and his quintet spent two days in the studio, recording enough material to fulfill the contract so he would be able to release his Columbia album. All four albums (Workin', Steamin', Relaxin' and Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet) are considered classics.