Friday, November 26, 2010

Dude, Where's My Role Model?

Peyton Manning throws a really good football. I.M. Pei designed some damn cool buildings and that Eminem guy sure can flow. We all have our aptitudes. I am an incredibly talented curmudgeon. Misanthropy is my gift and one that comes to me easily and prolifically. Simply put, I just love to hate.

I hate without prejudice or partiality. I hate The Real Housewives of (insert whatever city here-it really doesn’t matter) just as much as I hate the Kardashians and the entire cast of The Jersey Shore. I hate the Israelis for continuously building settlements and I hate the Palestinians for continuously launching rockets into them. I hate the N.R.A. for being so strong and I hate anti-gun advocates for being so weak.

Now, what is one to do with all this hate? You would think that the well of abhorration would run dry from time to time but alas, it is perpetually replenished by the knuckleheads that regularly appear on television. Long ago, the term ‘Boob Tube’ was coined but the people addictively watching it were considered the boobs, not the people on it. But televolution has changed all that.

Televolution noun (2010) 1. the ever-morphing landscape of television that encapsulates all macro and microscopic changes in the zeitgeist. Okay, so, yeah, I just made that up. You don’t like it, too fucking bad. Get your own blog and make up as many words as you want.

If I were to list and rant about every person I hate that appears on television, we would be here for a very long time so I will focus on those I truly relish loathing. I will start with the easiest target and anyone with half a brain’s favorite, the Queen twit of Wasilla herself, Sarah Palin.

Yes, I watched the debut episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. I had to. My hatred for her is an addiction and like any other, it must be fed regularly or crippling withdrawal symptoms ensue and my anger receptor sites might be filled with noxious emotions like joy or gratitude.

After watching the show, I must reluctantly admit the following: Alaska is a fascinating wilderness and I couldn’t help but admire Sarah’s moxie in rock-climbing, glacier-stomping and fishing within casting distance of wrestling bears. And dare I say it but Sarah Palin is just the most delightfully folksy, quirky, nutty little thing. She is just weird enough to be telegenically engaging.

And this assemblage of personality traits (or defects) does make her an above average reality TV star. But these same traits also make her a political punch line. Scaling one of the gentler faces of Mt. McKinley does not endow one with the courage necessary to win wars. And Salmon-catching proficiency will not help reign in Iran’s nuclear program or create a few million jobs.

But is the average disgruntled voter smart enough to make these distinctions? Or is liking her show just enough to sway an undecided independent come November 2012? It has already swayed the voters on Dancing with the Stars, who, despite her mediocre scores and lackluster rhythm, kept Bristol Palin in the running for far longer than she deserved. Or so I hear. I would sooner castrate myself with a spork than watch that fucking show.

Speaking of dogshit reality TV shows, I’m gonna lay off The Jersey Shore because picking on that program is kind of like beating up a nine-year-old girl in a wheelchair. So instead I will direct my ire at two of the NFL’s most decorated self-promoters, Terrell Owens and Chad-I still can’t believe he actually legally changed his fucking name to-Ochocinco.

Never in the history of sport have two bigger spotlight-humping parasites worn the same team’s jersey. Between them they have two TV programs, twelve Pro Bowl selections, 218 touchdowns, dozens of endorsement contracts, countless end zone celebrations and, the only stat that really matters in sports, ZERO championships.

I was watching Monday Night Football a few days ago and saw Ochocinco in a commercial for, wait for it, pistachios. That’s right. The man is selling nuts. I really don’t know what else I can say about this. It’s...I can’t he really...ja3e*&^hUI98yg&7Guhi&TGu

Sorry, I just had an aneurysm and shat myself.

I remember watching Lawrence Taylor annihilate quarterbacks in the pre-concussion-pandemic era like a man who simply enjoyed doing his job. Barry Sanders would score touchdown upon touchdown and every time he crossed the goal line, he acted like he’d been there before. No celebrations, no dancing, no popcorn, no cell phones or Sharpies, just six points and poise. What the fuck happened man?

These days athletes who quietly do their job well are anomalous. Players who don’t bitch in the locker room are exceptions, not the norm. Players who don’t Tweet, promote and blow themselves at every opportunity are becoming increasingly rare and soon they may be extinct all together. It used to be performance first, pomp and circumstance second or sometimes never. Now, it is the other way around. And nothing exemplifies this more flagrantly than “The Decision.”

As a lifelong Knick fan and ardent follower of the NBA, allow me to scream what has already been spoken ad nauseum:


Fuck him long and hard and good.

“The Decision,” James' repugnant free agency special that was aided, abetted and enabled by ESPN (not to mention The Boys & Girls Club) was a self-aggrandizing embarrassment. It was a public bitchslap to a Cavalier franchise that all but anointed and apotheosized ‘The Chosen One’ and it spat in the face of everything I love about competitive sports. I grew up watching Magic versus Bird, Jordan versus everyone and it was these rivalries that shaped and sculpted the NBA that exists today. Why do we watch sports? Have you ever asked yourself that?

I watch them to see mortals defy adversity to become champions and then legends and then gods. I watch them to bare witness to bitter rivals battling; shedding sweat, blood and tears on turf, grass and hard-court.

We do not watch sports to watch weak-willed canoodlers manufacture championships because they lack the heart and balls to earn them the hard way. The NBA deserves better and so do its fans.

There is much I detest about the Republican party; their insistently pumping God into politics, their resistance to perceiving minorities and gays as equals, their fear-mongering, false-patriotic proclivities, their flagrant tendency to cater to the needs of corporations instead of the average American. But despite all my harbored animus, they still deserve better than Sarah Palin.

Our democracy welcomes debate amongst two parties with different ideals but it should not welcome airheads who are just quirky enough to sell books and get decent ratings on The Learning Channel. People have limitations and our culture should not allow them to transcend them.

Keanu Reeves should have stopped at Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Lindsay Lohan should have stopped at Herbie Fully Loaded. Sarah Palin should have stopped at Alaska. And she should have stayed there.

Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens should not be given endorsements, TV programs and multi-million dollar contracts. They should be shunned until they can behave like grown-ups. They should be underpaid until they can prove themselves as worthy teammates. Team mates.

Lebron James should lock himself in a room and figure out what he’s really made of. Though, maybe he already did that and conclded he did not have the character required to win his own championship and carve out his own legacy. Maybe ‘we are all witnesses’ to the best wingman in the game, nothing more than a finely tuned second fiddle.

But when will we demand more from our politicians, athletes and entertainers? When will selfishness be punished by professional sports teams and the companies that endorse athletes? How many more W’s and Palin’s will America have to suffer before it realizes that 'the guy you want to have a beer with' or 'the folksy gal you want to field dress a moose with' should not be placed in positions of power? When will we start demanding values, character, competence and courage from our role models?

I don’t fucking know. But ask questions people. Always ask questions. 

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