Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Inconsequential Things That Matter To Me

1. In case you're in the vicinity: I'll be reading/signing on Thursday evening at the excellent Varsity Letters Reading Series in Brooklyn, along with Dave Zirin and Dan Epstein. I also did an interview with Gelf, which you can find here.

2. I also did an interview with the War Eagle Reader, an awesomely eccentric, hipsterish Auburn-centric site, in which I discussed all things Bo.

3. I had an interesting conversation (about 35 minutes in on here) with David Sirota, a prominent political journalist, on his radio show this morning. Sirota is also writing a (very different) book about the '80s, and he has a theory that the notion of athletes as roguish outsiders who in fact embrace celebrity, a la Jim McMahon and Brian Bosworth, parallels the political evolution that began with Ronald Reagan and has now culminated in the public persona of Sarah Palin*. It's a fascinating thought, and maybe explains the fact that athletes who make millions of endorsement dollars can still claim a "lack of respect," and that politicians who raise millions of dollars in contributions can decry the insider culture in Washington. In both realms, it would seem, it is a strike against one's image to be seen as a tool of the establishment, even if, in fact, you're obviously part of an establishment. Which could explain why insane people are winning primary elections, and why LeBron feels like he needs to keep a blacklist

*Though in the interest of balancing the political spectrum, it should be noted that Barack Obama marketed himself as a political outsider from the very beginning.

1 comment:

WarningTrack said...

The rise in what you're talking about correlates with two things: skepticism about government's ability to get s**t done, and skepticism that the media might not be as trustworthy or objective as once assumed.

The point about government is massive, because it trickles down (heh; see what I did there?) to all other walks of life, including how we view athletes. Once the majority of a society like ours concludes that government is as likely to be the problem as the solution, I think the idea of an outsider has special appeal in other arenas besides politics, as well. When the highest authority you know on earth is suspect, that has major ramifications for the rest of your life, in the same way someone who has a bad relationship with their father is more likely to have a bad relationship with authority in general.

This would explain an uptick in this sort of thing, but it exists regardless, for two reasons:

1) Every political system is bound to be frought with problems, and people love the idea of someone coming in to clean it out, and it's logical that they'd favor someone who wasn't too involved with it to begin with to do the job.

2) Outsider-ism is very much like underdog-ism. Fighting the establishment is in the American DNA and has been for centuries. It's how we were founded and how we define ourselves. We'll see ebbs and flows, and it can be intriguing to figure out what causes each ebb and flow, but its existence in general needs no more explanation than this.

In short: I don't think this is really a new phenomena. It's probably become more pronounced, but there are lots of seasons for that, and if anything I think it may have only hastened the inevitable.