Wow, this is an odd coincidence – or maybe not so odd considering that the Olympic Games are in full swing, the other TV channels won’t counter-program against them and are thereby in full rerun mode and until today it was too shitty in this long, cold, hard winter to do anything but veg-out in front of the TV – but I was preparing my own piece on the Olympics when I read Wal Ozello’s apology to Bode Miller.
I’ve never met Wal, but considering the blogs I’ve read by him on Pencilstorm, I bet we’d get along famously. That being said, I couldn’t disagree with him more about Bode Miller. (I don’t think we’ve ever had a Point/Counterpoint segment thus far on Pencilstorm, have we?)
Here’s my deal on the Olympic Games: my lovely wife Debbie – who, believe me, could CARE LESS about sports on any level at any time – every two years becomes an absolute slave to the lure of the Olympics. NBC realizes this, of course, as pointed out in Ozello’s piece. Non-sports fans like Debbie DO want to get the human interest slant on the athletes as opposed to just the sports accomplishments of said performers.
And let’s face facts, Olympic athletes ARE performers nowadays: just like rock stars, TV & movie stars, politicians, reality-show participants, idiots who actually demean themselves to go on American Idol, Dennis Rodman, Kim Jong Un, and the latest poor schmuck who winds up being interviewed on the Weather Channel when he’s involved in a massive car, truck & bus pileup during this particularly cruel, snow-blasted winter.
Unfortunately, in this People magazine/Entertainment Tonight/TMZ celebrity-obsessed culture in which we live, the problem is that we have to keep creating celebrities to fill up all the 300 channels our televisions now accommodate. (And – Drunk Uncle Alert – don’t even get me started on DVR’s, Netflix, iTunes, binge viewing and kids watching everything on their Smartphones. Debbie and I still own – and utilize – a roughly 20-year old VCR.) Thirty years ago, when – for example – Johnny Carson had the only late-night talk show, you actually had to BE a celebrity to get booked. Now, with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Arsenio Hall, Craig Ferguson and my particular favorite, David Letterman, (not to mention Oprah, Ellen, Piers Morgan, E-network, The ladies of The View, et. al.) needing to Feed The Machine, just about ANYBODY is accorded Celebrity Status just to fill up space and talk show couches.
(Ricki, focus: Bode Miller, we’re talkin’ about Bode Miller. I know, I know, I know, I’m GETTING there.)
Okay, here’s my problem with Bode Miller specifically – and, by extension almost all Olympic athletes, or by a Larger Extension, any celebrity. In the little Fawning Celebrity Tribute NBC put together for Mr. Miller’s Sunday night’s Snow Theatrics we were told, among other things, that Bode has two children – two and five years old (by two different mothers, incidentally, which they kinda glossed over, if ya get my drift) – and a younger brother who died from a seizure episode after a helmet-less motorcycle crash years earlier.
NBC delivers this heart-warming montage of info over a shot of Miller’s wife – whom, by the way, he married after knowing her for all of five months – Mrs. Bode Miller. (I admit, I didn’t catch her name.) The NBC voiceover identifies the lovely, blonde, former beach volleyball player Mrs. Miller as, of course, “the love of Bode’s life.” (I found myself wondering aloud to Debbie how the mothers of Miller’s two children felt about that designation when I bet both of them once thought of themselves as “the loves of Bode’s life.” But that’s the kind of asshole I am, so you can take that with a grain of salt.) (Also, I find myself wondering whether beach blanket blondie will still be Mrs. Bode Miller two years from now. Or even a year from now. But again, that’s just the kind of asshole I am.)
Here’s my point, and then I’ll get out of your hair and off your computer-screen: I grew up on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio. If we were dealing with a 36 year-old man with two illegitimate kids under six from two different baby mamas and a younger brother who wrecked his dirt bike and later died, we’d have just called ‘em Lowlife White Trash, not Hallowed Sports Hero, anointed as such to feed the Celebrity Threshing Machine.
And Wal, I gotta say, I don’t think for one single, solitary moment that Bode Miller was crying over the memory of his brother. I think he was crying on accounta ‘cuz he was bringing home a Bronze medal from Sochi instead of a Gold, and he was picturing his projected Bigtime Endorsement Money from Nike, Gatorade, Cadillac and Cialis slip-slidin’ away. (But that’s the kind of asshole I am.) – Ricki C. / February 19th, 2014.
(coming up – possibly – in a future segment of my Olympic diatribe/coverage: Why those girls in Pussy Riot are more bad-ass than Van Halen ever THOUGHT about being, why Americans only seem to care about GOLD medals, and Olympic commercials that are making me wanna pull an Elvis on my TV.)