Antonio Brown’s bold and unprecedented dive into the reality of a professional sports locker room is a cinematic undertaking worth all of this year’s Academy Awards.
Brown, the director and star of the film, provided his audience revolutionary access to an NFL locker room. A place where many sports fans can only dream of going. Brown, however, allows us a peek into this world. The frightening world of dirty men roaming around naked, of piles and piles of sweaty, smelly uniforms, and of horrifying dance moves.
The film is simply the narrative of a man, consumed by the many distractions around him, biding his time before he must shower. A mundane tale layered with nuance.
The film opens with Brown, Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates showing off their fancy new hats. As Coates poetically describes, “Hat game STUPID.”
These hats will undeniably earn Brown an Oscar for costume design.
We can see at this point that Brown is unwinding from his game-winning performance and preparing to take his postgame shower. But, before Brown can change, he is called to attention by head coach Mike Tomlin.
Brown segues deep into the candid postgame speech of Tomlin. A speech that would probably put the fear of God into most football players but completely unfazed Brown.
It is here that we see the true arc of character development. Brown, when faced with adversity and told explicitly, “BE COOL ON SOCIAL MEDIA,” turns a blind eye and continues to film. He can’t end the film before the shower. A true moment of perseverance and dedication to his audience.
Brown then takes us to WR Darius Heyward-Bey, who delivers a poetic monologue:
The old bet
Lets get... it.”
As Brown returns to his locker he is overcome with emotion. He thanks God repeatedly, as well as the audience for staying with him along his journey. A slew of reporters appear behind him, waiting for their chance to pick the brain of the brilliant director. In the penultimate moment of the film, Brown describes his rise from the bottom in a series of unforgettable lines.
“For the time they locked me out the crib and didn’t let me in,” he says. “You played yourself. For the time they didn’t recruit me to go to college. Haaa you played yourself. For the people that wrote up and said I’m too small. Haha.”
Brown’s stoic character, however, unravels at the end of the film, as he shows his vulnerability, stripping in front of the camera. Brown is almost ready to take his shower. Mid striptease, the audience is struck by his willingness to come within inches of exposing himself on live video.
Once stripped of all of his clothes — a metaphor for his tough exterior — Brown takes us deeper into the locker room where countless shirtless men await their turn in the team showers.
And then the film ends, leaving the audience with a thousands of questions.
Questions like: Will Brown ever get to take his postgame shower? Will the crowd of reporters who have been pacing past his locker for the past 17 minutes finally get their postgame interviews? Was creating this cinematic work of art worth the inevitable five-digit fine he will receive from Hollywood’s biggest critic, Roger Goodell?
Initial reception of the film was so negative that the original footage was deleted. Fortunately, demand for the film was so high that bootleg copies exist on deep on the dark web, A.K.A., the YouTube black market. Mixed reviews stemmed from Brown’s many risky decisions and lack of censorship. At only 3 minutes in, for example, the viewer is left with an unfortunate amount of naked butt to grapple with.
Even though Brown is being criticized for his honest portrayal of an NFL locker room, many are praising his bravery and lack of self-awareness in producing such a high-stakes film. By taking so many risks, Brown shows he is truly dedicated to his craft and worthy of at least an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay.”
Viewers may have been on to something, however, when they complained about a lack of original dialogue. Brown did repeat the line, “God’s the Greatest” more than 13 times within 17 minutes.