11.04.2005

The well's run dry



This is not supposed to sound as acrimonious as I worry it's going to, and I'm not naming names for the simple fact that I value our allies, respect their work, and am not actually interested in alienating them. But, while I'm hardly above calling something "really fucking gay," the Francis/Mobley insinuations are getting old. I don't really care about going into the majesties of male friendship, or the homoerotic undercurrents of sports, since we all know this shit already. At this point, though, their friendship has been out there (no pun intended) for long enough, and its almost shamelessly intimate nature made public enough, that there's really nothing to be gained, or exploited, by wondering which one is the bottom.

A friend of mine spent most of UNC's run last year making fun of Sean May for allegedly baking muffins and listening to the Backstreet Boys (Illini fan, got his comeuppance in the end). Then when YAY! came with that immortal blanket story, I sent him the link and said, simply, you win. May is a giant teddy bear with the emotional make-up of a seven year-old. He so obviously fit the bill, though, that all of a sudden the extent and limitations of his goofy personality became almost blandly apparent. That was the ultimate laugh at May's expense, but it was also the last, most dampening one ever. He is what he is, however embarassing it might be, and it's no longer novel enough to warrant comment—nor mysterious enough that we can exaggerate it for mockery's sake.



So it is with Francis and Mobley. Yes, it's a grotesquely, even pathologically close friendship. Yes, there's something overweaningly homoerotic about it. And yes, for a while there might have been some room for speculation. But seriously, do you think they agree to do this story if their reunions involve rimjobs and buttplugs? Don't you think someone would have at least some scrap of rumor that implicated, rather than just taunted, the nature of their friendship?

This has also gotten me thinking on the very act of gossiping about athletes, rappers, or whatever other quasi-exotic personalities we blog-things make our hay out of. I think we can all agree that many Hollywood celebrities, certain athletes, and rock heroes are, for all their wealth, A-list action, and stilted daily routines, usually pretty average people. We went to school with them, lived near them, had to work with them. Socio-economically speaking, they come from the same plains as many of the folks trapped behind a computer all day, or are at least as transparently flat and familiar as the kind of people we're forced to deal with.



Although I'm sure some of our readers will rush to claim exception, it ain't like that when you start talking about most NBA players and, of course, the rappers we would ever bother to care about as "real" individuals. I'm sure some of you played ball in high school, grew up with a diverse group of friends in a major metropolitan area, starred in your own private 8 Mile coming up, or dealt with Jeezy in miniature when you were desperate for coke. But the truth is, you don't know, or get, what these limelit folks' lives were like before celebrity, and you sure as hell don't have a convincing handle on what happens when you take that background and factor in all the complexities of being young, black and gifted in America. We get these bits and pieces without knowing the context, or even being able to imagine the context based on related experience and information.

(That's right, I just pigeonholed our entire audience. Just try and claim that that was a mistake.)

I guess I'm saying, fag bash Manning all you want, if you feel like you can really piece together something there (or pretend to do so for the sake of parody). But at least admit that you might not be in a position to call out the latest "Batman and Robin" (incidentally, I never heard "Shaq and Wade: FUCKING ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!!!!!," and with that on-stage cuddle at the VMA's. . . .), even if there were a little more intrigue still left to their story.





Update: The Cavalier shrewdly observes that "if you're going to call me out so clearly, you may as well just call me out by name and send the traffic over." So, with the Cav's blessings, here's the post that set me off. And in the unlikely event that you and everyone you know haven't seen them already, Deadspin's former and latter entrances into the fray, including a partial admission that my hard-edged self-righteousness might have been on to something.

11 Comments:

At 11/04/2005 3:08 PM, Blogger emynd said...

Am I missing something? Where exactly is everyone endlessly talking about the homoerotic relationship between Mobley and Francis? This post sounds like it's in response to something sort've substantial, but I'm not seeing what.

-e

 
At 11/04/2005 3:29 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

e-
there was an article in espn the magazine about cat and stevie. there's also this from yayball:

http://www.yaysports.com/nba/2005/11/steve_francis_and_cat_mobley_h.html

 
At 11/04/2005 4:32 PM, Blogger Ken said...

Kinda sucks that you blast your audience about an article that was on another site and never discussed here.

 
At 11/04/2005 5:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

the first part was about other sites, the second was about a more general blogosphere problem that i think is hardly irrelevant to our readers, this blog, or the other blogs they're likely to read. the last paragraph uses the point of the second section to readdress the initial point with even more ammo.

i admit it gets a little equivocal at time, but such are the pitfalls of writing these things at work

 
At 11/04/2005 5:45 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'd also like to venture that this has more than a little to do with the "dumb rapper" mini-controvery semi-raging below, since the only context we have for actions or utterances that would lead us to judge a rapper's intelligence is his music/musical personae. so even if we think we have something extra-musical or convincingly biographical to go on, it's still probably a non-starter.

 
At 11/05/2005 11:04 AM, Anonymous luol dang said...

dude is that a picture of hank mobley?

i didn't even read the article yet ...

 
At 11/05/2005 1:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

it is, but thc made the joke first.

and i felt like it was about time that someone call into question the semi-priveliged, certainly "special" relationship he had with both wolff and lion as individuals and the label itself, which i think this does smashingly

 
At 11/05/2005 1:46 PM, Blogger Ian said...

Good pull from "Gossip Folks"....at least I think that's what the last picture is.

 
At 11/05/2005 2:17 PM, Anonymous luol dang said...

i want his sweater.

yeah, hank mobley is really big in japan.

 
At 11/08/2005 3:01 PM, Anonymous Austin Croshere said...

So its O.K for "familiar", "transparently flat" middle-class white americans to gossip about middle-class, white americans, but its crossing the line for them to gossip about Black athletes or rappers because they couldn't possibly understand their subculture? Should we intead have segregated rumour columns in the newspaper that are hyper-sensitive to race while making unsubstantiated claims about a celebrity's sexual preference? I don't buy it. And while you're busy chastising gossipmongers for making superficial judgements of Black celebrities, the actual people being gossiped about ("A-list" or "Exotic") are counting their money in their mansions--I find it hard to feel sorry for them. I think that by pulling the "you couldn't possibly understand 'them'" card, you've fallen into a common liberal pitfall of over-responding to cultural insensitivity by devaluing your own culture, in this case, the blogosphere.

 
At 11/08/2005 3:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

okay, i was secretly hopefully someone would accuse me of this. yes, if you think i'm talking in absolutes, my point is naive, absurd, and borderline racist. but i think it's just as much of a liberal myth (and increasingly, a conservative strategy) to pretend that there aren't degrees of difference. francis and mobley are two black men from impoverished backgrounds who, through the lens of athlete culture, formed a preposterously tight bond as they came to terms with being incredibly wealthy celebrities in the public eye. there's a lot there that separates them from your averager blog-goer, and i'm simply saying that we should be mindful of that.

if i went a little over the top, it's because the reaction to francis and mobley has always been to consider them as if they were just two guys we knew, as opposed to thinking of all the ways in which they weren't and how that might affect our ability to interpret their relationship--or rather, what bits and pieces we know of it.

i think we can gossip about certain aspects of their life with confidence that we get what's going on, what these bits of fact we have mean to them. but in this case, it seems more than a little rash and insensitive.

if they were an item, i still don't think most of us would have a good handle on the psychology or significance of the whole thing. but at least then i think that's at least not leaving so much left to our relatively ignorant imagination

 

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