First off, many thanks to the New York Times in helping me write my headline.
The first time I was offended by a sports star not staying in their lane was when Mean Joe Greene pushed Coca-Cola over Tab. It was distressing and confusing to this 12 year old who had already had to walk through some of life’s worse fires and I just wanted validation that Tab was a better choice than Coke.
Not really though. It was a good commercial but I thought the kid who got the jersey was kind of a wimp. I mean, if you’re already hooked up enough to be hanging out in the Steelers tunnel, you’ve been waving that white privilege flag long enough to have a little sense of entitlement. Stupid kid.
One of the Charlie’s Angels (the most uninteresting one) sold me on Charlie perfume. Wore it for years until I moved on to Jovan musk. I then advanced to Sunflowers perfume with an odd day here or there wearing a Victoria Secrets scent that was super heavy but I was sold on the idea that I felt sexy when I wore it (but only on the odd day.) I ended up with New West, still a favorite, and I swap it out in the winter with Blue from Dolce & Gabbana. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I shoot some Chanel No 5 in the air and then remember that I don’t really like the smell of it. The perfume game is no joke.
Professional athletes and Hollywood starlets have been endorsing product for as long as I can remember and in some areas of my life, their commercials worked. I regret nothing.
The reason professional endorsements are a multi-billion industry is because, hang on to your hat here, they work. George Clooney is the Billy Mays of super expensive coffee machines and he’s probably sold a few. This is because he has earned a following by being an actor. I first saw him on The Facts of Life. I didn’t like him, dunno why. Still don’t. I’m sure he’s crushed.
Something I do NOT remember about my childhood are professional athletes or Hollywood actors speaking out constantly on political issues. Two exceptions are Muhammed Ali (granted, this was spun by my dad who admired his athletic talent but wasn’t a fan of his) and Jane Fonda (with an Uncle who served in Vietnam, you did not bring up Jane Fonda’s name in our home. It took another decade or two for me to understand why but I knew that speaking her name was bad. So we didn’t.) This phenomenon helped formed my belief that we don’t want to hear from Hollywood or professional athletes on political matters. “Stay in your lane” is actually very 60’s and 70’s, catch up snowflakes.
I have always loved sports. I had a very brief career as a prima ballerina at Linda’s Dance Academy but then I got boobs and realized that standing on my toes for hours on end hurt my feet and I was peace out on that bitch. Sports though, I loved. Football; baseball; tennis (Martina Navratilova was one of my first favorite athletes. Her strength and unapologetic desire to win was something I wanted to relate to.)
I also loved the movies. Cleopatra; West Side Story; Giant, and one of my all time favorites, Gone With the Wind. I had the hugest crush on Clark Gable when I was young. I had no idea the man had died before I was even born, didn’t matter, I could get lost in his charm and sass and don’t even get me started on the brilliance that was Vivien Leigh. Although, for the record, I was in complete objection to her fascination with Ashley Wilkes. He was weak. So weak.
I’ve always liked older movies and musicals. Singing in the Rain; Gypsy; Sound of Music. Each movie allowed me to avoid, at times, the ugly of my reality and lose myself in make believe. I was in awe of the acting, the costumes, stories that brought me to other places in time. Sports do this too. Every fall for two hours a week, I had my dad all to myself on Sunday afternoon watching the Vikings play. All I had to do was work to understand the game and relish the time with Dad.
Fast forward 20 years or so to when I was outnumbered in my home by my children; going to school part time, and a full time job that was amazing in it’s pay and benefits but also it’s demands. By the end of each day, there was zero Jules left to go around. I don’t know how I did it but I did. You know what got me through? The Hoff.
Yup. Every Sunday evening I would make sure the house was in order and ready for the week; twins were in bed (don’t care that they may not have been sleeping, this is mom’s time), and lights were dimmed so I could enjoy one hour of Baywatch. Yes, Baywatch. See, I needed one hour a week to step out of my life and into the beach drama that I’m pretty sure was ripped off by the Emmy nominating committee year after year. It worked, I’d be raring to go every Monday morning and by Friday night, an exhausted me knew I only had two more days to go until that sweet moment where I had that one hour to myself to escape.
See, something that is being lost in all of the noise of discontent among pro-athletes and Hollywood actors screaming or kneeling about how “we” (“we” varies depending on the yelling) need to repent and feel bad about ourselves is that they are diminishing the very value they have. Entertainment. I do not believe their opinions are in any way less because of their occupation, after all, most of us are Americans and we get to express our opinion freely. At least we used to.
Hollywood DOES have value. To say they don’t is absurd. Most of us go to a movie here or there. Recently, while we were unconstitutionally forced to stay at home because of a flu, streaming services soared in popularity because we wanted to be entertained. That has value. Many of us miss sports. Sports is an opportunity to check out of our own reality and enjoy the talents of others. This has value.
Dear Hollywood and pro-athletes, you have value. You supply a needed and appreciated service to many of us. Thank you. Of course the glaring problem comes when many of you underestimate the value you DO have and feel the need to scream at the top of your social media at how each of us are failing at whatever you say we’re failing at in that moment. By doing this, you DIMINISH your value. Your voice becomes one of many who provide stress and divisiveness and you no longer have any value to me. If I want to hear how much America sucks, I’ll just open our local newspaper (but I refuse to to pay the .99 a year for access to it. Not remotely worth it.)
I want to swoon over Clark Gable. I want to be amazed at the strength and speed of Serena Williams. I want to laugh at the audacity of Blazing Saddles. I want to wistfully smile at the happy ending Lily James gets at the end of Cinderella. I want to see Tiger Woods win. I want you to use this amazing platform you have to allow us to escape, not to add to the vitriol of current “journalism.” At every turn, they are not understanding this.
Fans of sport and cinema are leaving in droves which, not surprisingly, makes people scream louder. Those of us who are shutting down the noise seem to be the one’s who are finding joy in life, especially as Americans. Those of us who are shutting down the noise are firmest in our foundations, which tends to make people scream louder. Watch closely, the quieter you are, the louder people scream. This makes it exceptionally easier to rid yourself of useless noise and hold tighter to the strongest voices who are quiet in their whispers and loudest in their actions.
The embarrassing thing is that my salad dressing is out-grossing my films.