Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Are We Surprised? Pt. 2: The Rise of Bale & Phelps

So the other day an audio recording was released of Christian Bale falling out of his tree and going off on the director of photography while they were filming yet another Terminator movie (Does anyone remember James Cameron holding up his Oscars for Titanic and shouting, "I'm the king of the world!"? He's not involved in this new film). Bale was accusing the DP of stepping into "his" scene and distracting him in the background. Christian dropped the F-bomb just about every other word of each sentence he shouted at the guy, saying things like "My mind is not in the scene if you're doing that..." What scene is that, Bale? Is it the one where you kill the robot aliens? Yeah, I could see how you would need the utmost focus and concentration. You see, this is a movie. Christian Bale is an actor. He pretends. He pretends to kill robot aliens. Other times he pretends to be Batman. My wife's 6 year old nephew pretends to be Batman, too. Bale gets paid a lot of money to play pretend while other people film him pretending. The audio of his rant actually starts to get pretty funny, like a little kid losing it because his Cheerios got soggy. The thing that's really sad is that news organizations like CNN devote whole segments of their show to this kind of crap. They have analysts and "experts" sit and discuss how crazy Christian Bale is. Gimme a break!

First of all, Christian Bale is not our moral leader. I've worked on a couple of film sets and people used filthy language every single day of filming. Secondly, how is it that we're shocked by the language when the actual movies that these actors are in sometimes have worse language in them. Christian Bale sounds like a spoiled brat, so what. HE'S AN ACTOR! He's not a social worker. He's not a school teacher. He's not a volunteer at a homeless shelter. He plays with toy laser guns. Or toy cowboy guns. The bad part about it is that Christian Bale was in the guy's face ready to strangle him because he broke the actor's focus, but if the director of photography had popped him in the face like he probably deserves, Bale would've probably sued the guy.

Next up, Michael Phelps. In 2004 he was arrested for drunk driving in Maryland. And just a few weeks ago a photo was taken of Michael Phelps with a bong up against his face in South Carolina. He has now lost his Kellogs endorsment (no more free Corn Flakes) and USA Swimming has suspended Phelps from competition for a short while. USA Swimming, the nation's governing body for competitive swimming released a statement regarding the Michael Phelps situation: "This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming-member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero." A hero? Did he jump into the water and save someone who was drowning? Did he swim underwater to avoid capture to deliver needed information about the advancing enemy? No. He swam in a pool faster than some other guy and got a prize for it.
The Columbia, South Carolina sheriff's department is investigating whether the marijuana inicident happened on the university campus and if so, they would take action by filing criminal charges. Smoking pot on a college campus? I know, I know, it sounds crazy, to me too.

And role model? That's right kids, if you work hard and lift weights and eat right you can: make lots of money?...probably not. Become famous?...not likely. Get a book deal?...Nope. No kids, you can swim faster than the next person and maybe, just maybe, win a colorful ribbon or a gold-colored medallion made of die-cast metal.

Ok, here's the thing: Michael Phelps is a SWIMMER! He is an athlete. Again, he is not a moral leader. He shouldn't be a role model. He's not a hero. He's a 23 year old kid with lots of money who likes to smoke pot and drink. The ironic thing is is that he didn't even really make his money by swimming. He recieved endorsments from corporate companies so they could put their labels on him to sell more of their stuff. Do you think Kellogs and Speedo really care whether Phelps is a stand-up citizen? No way, they're just trying to sell more swimsuits and cereal. We need to stop holding these people up on a pedestal. They play games. That's all. We enjoy watching them do it, but should we want to be them?

Here are some other great sports role models:

Kobe Bryant: Got caught up in a rape scandal.
Michael Vick: Dog fighting ring scandal.
Jan Ullich: champion cyclist tied to Spanish doping scandal.
Jose Conseco: steroids
Barry Bonds: still fighting his performance enhancing drug scandal.
Marion Jones: US track and field star. Caught doping. Did six months in jail and lost all of her medals dating back to 2000.
Ron Artest: jumps into stands and beats on fan.
Alex Rodriguez: recently admitted to using steroids from 2000-2003.

Athletes people, not heroes, not role-models. There are some out there who are good people and have used their influence as celebrities to help in the world, but when it comes down to it they are still athletes who play games for a living. Teachers should be role models. The fire fighters who rush into burning buildings to save people are heroes. Not swimmers.

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