If you were a child raised in Philadelphia between the years of 1975 and 1985, you were raised at the altar of The Phillies, The Flyers, The Eagles, The 76ers ... and Rocky Balboa. To say that Sylvester Stallone's fictitious pugilist is a local hero is kind of like saying the Dallas Cowboys are mildly evil. Take a stroll through Philly's most colorful locations and you'll see the Italian Market where Rocky draws a crowd, beautiful patches of Fairmount Park, and (of course) the wonderfully huge staircase located in front of our world-renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art. Basically, Rocky is as much a part of Philadelphia as are cheese steaks, soft pretzels, and The Mummers Parade.

So what's up with this whole Rocky Statue uproar? Let's break it down by bullet-points:
  • The Rocky Statue was created by A. Thomas Schomberg and paid for by MGM. The 9-foot, 1,500-pound behemoth was commissioned for use in Rocky 3, to be used as the centerpiece for a scene in which the City of Brotherly Love shows how much it loves Rocky Balboa. (Foreshadowing AND irony!)
  • After Rocky 3, the statue was re-located to just outside the Spectrum sports arena, which caused a lot of confusion for tourists who, after sprinting all 72 of the Art Museum steps, realized that Bronze Rocky was nowhere to be found. (Let's just say The Art Museum and The Spectrum aren't exactly within walking distance.)
  • The statue made a brief re-appearance atop the Art Museum steps when Rocky 5 showed up, but was quickly re-placed back at the sports park.
  • The Rocky Statue was put into storage when Veterans Stadium was (intentionally) destroyed in 2002, and that's where it resides right now. (In storage, that is, not in the destruction.)
  • The arrival of this December's Rocky Balboa has sparked a lot of new chit-chat here in Philly: Several local politicians would like to see Bronze Rocky returned to somewhere very close to the Art Museum, while some on the museum board are dead-set against it. They don't think it's artsy enough, I suppose.
  • Recent reports indicate that a compromise has been reached, and that the statue will most likely earn a home -- at the bottom (?) of the Art Museum steps. And just in time, too! September 6th marks the beginning of "Philly Loves Rocky Week," and Sly is scheduled to show up and soak in the love.
Now, as a lifelong Philadelphian and a non-stop movie geek, my take on the whole "controversy" should be pretty darn obvious: Give Rocky the spotlight. Sure he's a fictional character, but this character has done more for this city than the last 11 mayors combined. Ask a guy from California what he knows about Philly, and "Rocky" will be one of his top five answers, guaranteed. So what if the statue was initially created as a movie prop? It's a pretty impressive piece of work all the same. More importantly, it's a well-known, well-established, and well-admired symbol of this city, regardless of what the Art Experts have to say on the matter.

I mean, we're talking about a city that boasts a giant clothespin statue, for cryin' out loud.