The Beasley Postulate, Extended
I was so serious when I said it: This is now a politics blog. Why else would we have covered a veep acceptance speech? Therefore, it with great importance that I command you to watch this video Chris Bosh made for FanHouse, of him and the gang eating fast food:
A few weeks back, I posted some image-defying, at-home footage of porn stars, and wondered what such a thing might do for NBA players, and if it ran too counter to the interests of branding and such. Well, here it is. First of all, this is stunningly mundane. And yet, you're still struck by the sheer presence of the scene—LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams, sitting at one table like it's nothing, millions of dollars and thousands of win-shares kicking it in front of, as Bosh note brilliantly, a wall of Penzoil. They come off not only as less serious and polished than we're used to seeing them—why wouldn't they, since this is their world, not the media's—but they also come off well. This is the most loose and amusing we've ever seen LeBron; weirdly, it was the acting of the "The LeBrons" that had previously seemed like the most authentic Bron we'd seen. I guess the common thread is humor and goofiness, which are largely absent from the King James we're sold.
But I'll be darned if this doesn't make me like James a lot more, and realize that underneath all the stone-faced professionalism, this is an outgoing young man having the time of his life. We can pretend that sports are war, or the measure of a man, or something whose true significance fans, and not players, are responsible for generating. However, who exactly relies on this construction for their interest? Does the demographic whose name is synonymous with the mention of "demographic" in sports want a stiff upper lip, as opposed to this window out onto levity and entertainment? I guess that (as it would be for the Nautica Thorn example) it's a slippery slope into all the old stereotypes of the modern athlete, and an evocation of Johnny Unitas's flat-top and the brow of Dave Cowens. I keep wondering, though, if 25-34 year-old males don't at some point catch up to the athletes of this era, or maybe even find themselves relating to exactly this capacity for frivolity.
Of course, this stuff lives on the internet for now, when we actually do get to see it. And I don't mean on-set bloopers, unless it's that batch of Iverson that got pulled off of YouTube after a few days of existence and never returned. Still, this shit is real, and people respond to it. It may muddy, or make slightly more complex, our picture of an athlete—or a candidate. But in the end, having us feel there's a real person underneath the professional feats, one that informs and infuses them with our common humanity, is worth the sacrifice. Instead of trivializing our fandom—or political allegiance—it engages us, turns us into more than circuits responding to cues and unrewarding, rote narratives. If we don't expect it, and the powers that be don't think we want it, the cycle can be broken and life will be more interesting for all of us. Unless I'm grossly wrong and a lot of people do need their athletes, politicans, and porn stars to be a series of accomplishments surrounded by formulae or talking points, nothing more and nothing less.
But seeing as this tincture of personality is what makes for Obama's appeal, and it's what made McCain's name in 2000, you'd think this charisma would have some recognizable value. It's only a matter of time before sneaker companies realize this, and hopefully, this election will hammer home that point even further.
P.S. Tum Tum=official Redeem Team soundtrack