7.20.2009

To Hold On Tight We Must Let Go

05valentine_iverson

The days are not good for Allen Iverson. The one-time beacon of personal integrity, triumphal dysfunction, and "fuck the world" stylistic rights currently sits out in the cold. He's hoping some team will look past his recent disappointments, figure several accelerated half-lives have made his legacy less radioactive, and give him a chance to make a roster like a blaxploitation Kevin Costner character. So perhaps now is not the time to launch an entirely new critique of AI.

However, the rise of Twitter has me rethinking that foundation of Iverson's NBA being: his authenticity. Allen Iverson, above all else, was his own man, did what he wanted, and forced the world to accept him on this own terms. This was where he picked up momentum as a hip-hop icon, which is to say, while others screamed "thug", he simply brushed them off as ignorant or sheltered. There's a tendency, even a need, to separate AI the world-historical figure from AI the athletic performer. In both cases, however, Iverson exemplified "realness"—perhaps to a pathological degree, but nonetheless in a way that informed the direction of the league and the players who came up idolizing him as much as Jordan.

Hence, as much as we speak of the post-Jordan days, I myself had become accustomed to the "post-Iverson" age. In this (gulp) dialectic, there seemed to always be a hard edge, or uncompromising bluntness, to be reckoned with. There was Jordan's universal appeal, met head-on by Iverson's populist bluster. The players spat out of this maelstrom were some combination of the two; Allen Iverson came to symbolize a mish-mash of unapologetic ghetto roots, "wrong way" ball, not taking shit from no one, and a wary intelligence that could often be its own worst enemy. Carmelo Anthony, post-Iverson because he was hood plus Magic Johnson's effervescent charm; Gilbert Arenas, idiosyncratic and disruptive as a player and person, but writing his own script with all the whimsy of a Saturday morning cartoon.

Jordan was a sales pitch, Iverson a doctrine. Except that, at the risk of offending a bunch of people, Iverson's persona was itself a posture. This may sound pedestrian, or simplistic, but at what point did we decide that Iverson (or Tupac) wasn't, to some degree, faking it, putting it on, selling us a bill of goods based around a very deliberate refusal to play by the rules? AI was certainly faced with difficult circumstances, and had to make tough decisions about what path to follow. And yet over the long haul, it became as opaque a guise as Jordan's Sphinx-like mask. They may have been polar opposites, but their inflexibility and predictability ultimately made them two sides of the same coin.

Should we bemoan the fact that, in the age of Twitter, authenticity is no longer about any iteration of “the struggle,” or truce between the two sides, but the possibility that individual athletes be both accessible and undeniably themselves? The stakes may have been lowered, and yet better a feed like Rudy Gay’s inform our sense of athlete “realness” than AI’s on-message scowl. Relaxation on its own is empty, taking a stand indefinitely is its own kind of blandness.

Incidentally, anyone who’s seen Iverson in the locker room, or otherwise with his guard down, knows that dude would be a monster on Twitter.

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43 Comments:

At 7/20/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

To me, AI's "authenticity" stemmed completely from his willingness to throw his body to the floor over and over. Yes, besides his MVP year, this attitude never worked very well, and he was probably a much better player on All-Star/USABB teams where he believed that this wasn't the best strategy, but he still willingly got his ass kicked every game.

If you view Iverson's uncompromising game as a more important manifestation of AI than his off-court style, then I think it's pretty hard to question his playing style's authenticity, despite the fact that it was probably not optimal for him.

(FD usually says that strong application of style leads to wins. FD also usually says that style begets game, so the inauthenticity of one leads to the in authenticity of the other.)

 
At 7/20/2009 4:28 PM, Blogger dunces said...

Yeah, I always felt that his style was more about fearlessness, and his off-court persona sort of stemmed from that.

I feel like AI using Twitter would be demeaning. I don't know what i'd make out of hearing about his new bathroom tile.

WV: uphous - the new new school for plyometrics

 
At 7/20/2009 6:31 PM, Blogger ox said...

its because of all this that AI needs to sign a one year deal w/ the New York Knicks.

Just think about that for a second. If Mike would give him the 'green light' (which he'd take anyway but it'd be more harmonious if given) it would be a magical season, entertainment wise.

 
At 7/20/2009 9:19 PM, Blogger growfauxfinns said...

One more for AI's rep being more about his demonstrated resilience. I've always felt he deserved the chance to do it his way if only because prior to last year he's always been willing to pay the price physically. Later came his importance as a figure sheerly on the terms of 'doing it his way', an updated LL's "I'm the Nietzche of rap". At this stage, his bonafides seem real to me. Realer than say, Tracy McGrady's.
In sum, at this point, I want to see him succeed for the same reason I wanted to see KG get a ring.

 
At 7/20/2009 9:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I just don't see how Iverson's willingness to absorb punishment and take on the whole world makes his game (or career) inherently credible. It's a choice.

I didn't mean to bring up the possibility of someone's game as "inauthentic." I'm not entirely sure what that would mean by itself; also, I'm talking about different definitions of "authenticity," not really out to call anything "inauthentic." Iverson's means being uncompromising and sticking to his guns at all costs. That may be forced, but that doesn't make it "inauthentic."

 
At 7/20/2009 9:44 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Forget to finish a thought there. "It's a choice" as in, he puts himself in a position to PROVE this on-court credibility.

 
At 7/20/2009 9:50 PM, Blogger Oliver said...

I mean, I'm a Philly fan, and I like the guy, so I dunno, maybe I'm biased. But, I mean, Allen Iverson grew up in a house without running water. He saw his best friend shot and killed right in front of him. And about five (?) other people killed right in front of him.

And so maybe it's all a put-on; I don't know. But you guys like Gilbert Arenas, for chrissake. And this is Free Darko, where po-mo ironic quoting of gangsta rap is de rigueur.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is... bad article. "[His] persona was itself a posture." Jesus. I could write a 10,000 word thesis about how that applies to this site, and I'd still be nowhere near done. And I like you guys. I really do. ...But get a grip. If you want to deconstruct Iverson, then fine, and you may be right. But do a better job of it, if you're going to do it at all. Because this was some half-baked, easy, blah blah bullshit, right here.

 
At 7/20/2009 9:59 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Would you be happier with "stance"?

I'm not really interested in questioning Iverson's honesty or integrity. That would be stupid. But on the court and in his public life, he stakes out extremes. I fail to see how fans' unironic fetishization of that is morally superior to pomo whatever you said.

Also, when was the last time we rode hard for Arenas?

 
At 7/20/2009 10:09 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Well, I think a lot of us (at least me) are mostly commenting based on a sort of unfortunate bullet on TrueHoop that seems fairly anti-Iverson, which makes me totally hate you and want to defend a player who is one of my favorites and I feel is usually unfairly maliigned.

I feel like you are saying that Iverson's relentless persona and game are a bit contrived, that he consciously tries to proves this aspect ("on-message scowl"). All (worthwhile) players try to prove that they are the best, but it seems like you are saying that AI is trying to prove his realness via getting his ass kicked by big men and trying to do everything himself. If I'm not putting words into your mouth, I disagree and say that he truly believes this is the best way for his team to win and is just adorably misguided. (And when he does play with real talent, like on USAB, he is basically a pure point, but I guess his opinion of himself is so high that this didn't happen with Denver.)

 
At 7/20/2009 10:12 PM, Blogger Oliver said...

No, I wouldn't be happier with "stance." Nor would it change the meaning of the sentence. And it would still apply just as well to the website. And I have a feeling that you know what I'm talking about, Shoals. Call me crazy, but I just do.

But I don't mean to be a troll, and I'll go away and stop leaving comments. Peace out, you crazy rascals!

 
At 7/20/2009 10:13 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

We posted at about the same time, so I didn't see what you wrote.

Let me add: fuck you for not riding hard for Arenas lately! Can we at least get some love for Nick Young?

 
At 7/20/2009 10:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I recognize all you guys. You might very well have read this post without True Hoop.

I'm really not interested in arguing about whether Iverson should learn to play another way—a smart team and coach would accommodate him. Or whether his background makes his story a courageous one (of course it does). The whole point here isn't to debunk Iverson, but to ask whether anyone else is still interested in proving what he did.

If Iverson had either spent his whole career on the 2001 Sixers, or been more of a point guard, and entered the NBA at a time when he himeslf wasn't such an enormous issue, his career might be a much happier story. I'm saying he's defensive and out to prove stuff. And, through no fault of his own, image-wise always being compared to Jordan or Grant Hill. Hence the vicious circle.

But whatever, this isn't about Iverson, it's about how he's been replaced by Twitter.

 
At 7/20/2009 10:26 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Why do I feel like I'm a troll in my own comments section?

This was also about hip-hop. And history.

There's a big difference between pretense (what this site has) and, like I said, taking a non-stop stand like Iverson does.

WV: inaners

 
At 7/20/2009 10:29 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Last thing: I probably underestimated how strongly that "faking it" would come off out of context. "Faking it" doesn't always mean "lying."

 
At 7/20/2009 11:41 PM, Blogger growfauxfinns said...

It's a choice, sure, but then is force of will really just another way of saying "making a choice and really sticking with it"?
I don't think he could take a team on his back and win it all now. I didn't really expect the Sixers to take the Lakers, but his swag has always been such that (this) one felt like they had a better chance because of him than say, the Pacers did with say, Reggie, or the Nets with Kidd, VC, and RJ.
I don't think he fakes anything, or if he does, it's the kind of fakery you find in everything from christian science, 12 steppers, and people who spell magic with a K- ie; fake it till you make it.
At this point though, I wouldn't think it phoney of him to reinvent his bulldog front of 'win because of me and possibly despite me (but fuck it, I'm Iver Anderson goddammit!)' to 'nothing is more gully than winning'. His existence is proof the science of his life works.

Full disclosure: I ride for AI a little more than most because we have the same birthdate & year.

 
At 7/21/2009 12:03 AM, Blogger djturtleface said...

I hate to take an all about the Benjamins stance, but did Twitter replace Iverson, or did money replace Iverson?

Chris Paul punched a dude in the nuts and, as you've recognized previously, has the whole sheep off court to wolf off court going for him, but his PR only focuses on the sheep. That's because its where the money is at.

Isn't it possible Iverson could afford to take on a public persona even more uncompromising than his game because it didn't kill his wallet. In post-Jordan the NBA wasn't drawing nearly the advertising money as it does today, and there wasn't much star power that looked all that much better. You had a guy nicknamed 'The Big Sleep,' Shaq who was a media juggernaut, and Vince, who was in Canada and never really gained much fan support.

Today there is enough star power to replace even the biggest names. When Kobe went through the rape charge thing, King James and Wade picked up the slack. Now Paul, Dwight, Durant, and a number of guys a little further from super stardom are all sitting at the throne. If you go on a "PRACTICE" rant, they're more than ready to clean up the mess.

Twitter didn't kill Iverson, the bevy of stars necessitates Twitter and allows it to survive.

 
At 7/21/2009 3:39 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

He really became a thing of the past with such alarming quickness, but hey he did go up and out with a bang, that banner year (at least he raised the spirit of the league as high as it ever got in this depraved Post-(insert player (JOrdache) or style of the day [SSOL]) world we live in). He made the media more powerful through the press conference, made href='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oUJO0-BBcs' 'Jadakiss ten times more listenable, got a lifetime shoe deal and made good use of a league's official height listing (he was not 6 foot in shoes).

 
At 7/21/2009 9:18 AM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Okay, I went and read it just caring about Twitter instead of your bitch-ass disses of Iverson.

You make good points about seeing players' personalities emerge more casually. I guess my only problem is that I could give a crap about Twitter. I don't actually know any people under 30 and not in media who think that Twitter is even close to worthwhile. I guess it's good that the casualness offers what is perhaps a truer view of an athlete than his public persona, regardless of whether it is a real or fake persona, but can't these people just get a blog? Channing Frye had an okay blog, I think Mark Madsen's was pretty good, and I never even minded Arenas' little phone interview thing.

Finally, what happens when some players just turn out to be generically lame? Isn't that worse than having an inaccurately negative public image? My example here is Dwyane Wade, but this might just be because I dislike him in general, but I think the point remains.

 
At 7/21/2009 9:46 AM, Blogger Deckfight said...

A.I. to NYC would inspire these odd NY Mag pieces about if Spike Lee and A.I. can work together on a film. It would be like the old man's version of LeBron & Jay-Z.

Or maybe a reality show w/ A.I. & Gallinari. I think I'm for it.

 
At 7/21/2009 11:37 AM, Blogger brian said...

doesn't iverson already twitter? i think he follows shaq. the real shaq, that is.

and authenticity debates? what is this, the 18th century? nothing (and everything) is authentic in hyper-reality.

 
At 7/21/2009 11:39 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

You people need to read more than Henry's quote from this. And could stand to read the other comments before you comment.

Whether or not "authenticity" truly exists, we function as if it does. How we define it is the question.

 
At 7/21/2009 11:46 AM, Blogger brian said...

so then why can't we define authenticity as meaningless? i mean, we're talking about this on the internet -- disembodied personas with made up names. how do we define the authenticity of that?

i agree that we function as if it does, but i suspect it might be time to move beyond authentic/inauthentic markers. especially when we're talking about a tv show (the nba).

 
At 7/21/2009 11:48 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Because that's about as realistic as saying that truth doesn't exist.

 
At 7/21/2009 12:48 PM, Blogger dunces said...

Post-reread:

I think how people are hung up on one quote in this piece is classically iverson. If he did to Twitter what you wanted him to, he could start a war! He would start a war, right?

Or are you suggesting that Twitter is a gentlemanly route to amiable irrelevance?

 
At 7/21/2009 1:19 PM, Blogger brian said...

whether or not "truth" truly exists, we function as if it does. how we define it is the question.

i guess what i'm trying to say is it might not matter if iverson is authentic or inauthentic. regardless of whether his performances are real or affectations, they're still true in that they exist. more so, if it is an affectation, at some point, that affectation becomes his real identity. or one of his identities.

 
At 7/21/2009 1:26 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

whether or not "truth" truly exists, we function as if it does. how we define it is the question.

Why are you arguing with me, then? This post was about defining authenticity, and how sometimes it involves trying real hard to prove a point, sometimes it's just hangin' out.

 
At 7/21/2009 2:34 PM, Blogger Fifty Ninjas said...

Ox, YOU are CORRECT!

(Iverson+Harrington+Lee)*D'Antoni= Entertainment + Playoffs

I mean, first they'd battle the Larry "Right Way" Brown and the JordanCats. Then, they'd head off for the unthinkable first round match-up of Iverson v. Rondo.

Donnie Walsh DO THIS!!!

 
At 7/21/2009 3:32 PM, Blogger Ritchie said...

Read the post and the comments and the post again. This post is clearly not selling out Iverson. I believe what Shoals is getting at is that Iverson's thug stance was only possible in a world where athletes' media interaction is structured and presented in clips by the mainstream media. I would add that not only was Iverson putting on a thug stance (his real life hardship is irrelevant, even real thugs that never become millionaires can't be that hard all the time it's not human) only possible in the just finished age of media but that the media soaked it up and loved telling, re-telling and embellishing that particular Iverson narrative/persona. Twitter and the rest of Web 2.1 or 2.5 or 3.0 or whatever gives athletes more ways to reach to the fans and thus they are likely to be less 2D. Iverson, regardless of how authentic he was or was not, was definitely 2D.

 
At 7/21/2009 4:09 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Rhymes with trolls, you're like that guy in Dating in the Dark last night who had the girl making out with him until the lights came on.

 
At 7/21/2009 4:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

English, please?

As always, your obscurity is appreciated and ignored.

 
At 7/21/2009 4:21 PM, Blogger Palmer said...

Bethlehem Shoals, your opinions on Iverson have been noted and critiqued over at our Iguodala Overton Window.

http://iguodalaovertonwindow.tumblr.com/post/146279419/free-darko-and-ai

If you have any questions or objections see our Twitter.
http://twitter.com/scoutinginphila

 
At 7/21/2009 4:31 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I object to this being characterized as "an essay about him being out of a job."

It's neither an essay nor about that.

Also, I remember when Iverson was in Philly. I lived there.

 
At 7/21/2009 4:44 PM, Blogger Fifty Ninjas said...

Could a New York Knicks Iverson beating out a Jordan-Brown Right Way Cats team for a playoff spot, and a triumph over Rondo (who really can never win, because he is evil, or in sports terminology a "heel") in the first round in an absolutely hysterical MSG, be considered a new age or a triumphant finale?


Iverson is authentic, not contrived, he is simply at odds with how his character fits in to the collective work that is the League. (remember the timeless Brown-Iverson June 2001 SI story?)

 
At 7/21/2009 5:17 PM, OpenID noaccount said...

Iverson has indicated that he conducts himself in the present based on past experience. His image has been manipulated by many (Reebok, sportswriters, Larry Brown, Allen Iverson). He’s intelligent enough to be aware of this, and guarded enough to view the experience as a negative. Perhaps his reticence toward Twitter is acknowledgement of his role in the turmoil of his earlier years. Older and wiser, ya know? Also, I may be wrong but isn’t most of the enthusiasm for Twitter concentrated in the new generation of players (the exception being attention whore Shaquille O’Neil)? If someone like Chauncey Billups or Antonio McDyess signed up, that’s more shocking than AI’s absence.

Perhaps Iverson embodied “difficulty” not “realness” and this has been lost as the two become conflated. He spoke of his struggles and this resonated with those who hold the perception of reality as pain. He spoke frankly, and established much of his persona on the negative media reaction to this “real talk”. Maybe there is something about the ease of communication through Twitter that turns him off, since he clearly thrives off of conflict. He’s sharp while interacting with reporters because he feels he must be. At six-foot-nothing he drives the lane specifically because there’s a seven footer in the way. He made the NBA finals with Larry Brown up his ass. Edmund Hillary scaled Everest because it was there, ya hear me? Edmund Hilary probably wouldn’t use Twitter either.

Once Iverson was established as a brand (the “doctrine” commodified and contrasting the Jordan “sales pitch”) the idea of his authenticity became increasingly debatable. Iverson, in being himself, was not trying to be like Mike. In the overblown search for an heir apparent, a breath of fresh air blew in off the streets and established itself as itself. Looking at it cynically, it's Reebok's greatest marketing counter to the Jordan juggernaut. Scrappy underdog interprets flaws as strengths; performs at an exquisite level; battles coaches and the media along the way. Authenticity, or at least the perception of authenticity compared to Jordan as pro-establishment icon, became his brand. This is inherently hypocritical, or at least triggers the bullshit alarm inside of those concerning themselves with such things. Those who don’t, admire and consume.

The supposedly unfiltered communication on Twitter now serves as a counter to Iverson’s original counter to Jordan. What if it’s revealed that Rudy Gay’s cousin has been running his account? Or that Shaq hired a team of comedy writers to brainstorm tweets? We’ll move on, all the while comparing Twitter to the usurper on the horizon.

I like the idea of Iverson having an era and existing wholly within it (authentic!). I don’t want the guy to tweet just like I don’t want him to sign with a contender as a backup for a shot at ring. How does Iverson join a new era when he defined the previous era? It’s like asking a Mammuthus to work at Starbucks.

 
At 7/21/2009 8:15 PM, Blogger wondahbap said...

"I don’t want the guy to tweet just like I don’t want him to sign with a contender as a backup for a shot at ring. How does Iverson join a new era when he defined the previous era?"

He doesn't. The NBA is making sure of it.

I'm not so sure AI's image was manipulated. It was exploited. The NBA embraced the Iverson Era. Then it blew up in the NBA's face. So, they are washing their hands. So, we see AI cutting his braids and crying on camera.

AI hasn't changed. Nor has his game, nor his authenticity. Tweeting isn't authentic. Ranting about practice is. I still think he can carry a team suited to his game, but the NBA wants the stench of the Iverson Era gone. He knows this.

 
At 7/22/2009 10:31 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

Did anyone find the photo that Shoals posted disarming enough to relax for one second on the themes here and see a bigger, brighter picture for a potentially more enlightened bridge between the players and the fans?

Traditional sports media was creating Romanesque Churches, fortresses filled with 'relics' (access, branding, etc.). Iverson's gravitational pull on the rest of the league, née the fans, has gone the way of collect calling on a payphone or 95 cent/gallon gas; we're all vainly clutching at a phantom limb, the pain and anger and denial is STRONG in these comments.

For Iverson to start twittering isn't like getting friended on facebook by grandma, we've just already felt the ebb and flow of his cosmically important career to the point that 140 characters can't offer much; for the record, I do want to hear about what bathroom tile he lays down.

 
At 7/22/2009 1:24 PM, Blogger Fifty Ninjas said...

Ok.

That's it.

I'm hijacking this entire conversation, because well, I can't sleep until Iverson is in New York.

And maybe they swing and sign Lamar Odom to play point center, to combo with Gallinari and Harrington playing shooting forward, and Iverson of course playing Power Guard.

This is the revolution, complete positional anarchy on a level that Bethlehem Shoals, and yes, Don Nelson too, have only dreamed.

Iverson-Chandler-Gallinari/Harrington-Lee-Odom

I want dreams to leave footprints on the Court at MSG this season!!!

 
At 7/22/2009 3:33 PM, Blogger Teach said...

speaking of revolution...here are some thoughts on this discussion posted over on http://lawnchairboys.blogspot.com/

I was going to post them here, but they seemed too long.

 
At 7/22/2009 6:11 PM, Blogger Ben said...

"Jordan was a sales pitch, Iverson a doctrine."

Pure genius.

 
At 7/23/2009 12:31 PM, Blogger Fifty Ninjas said...

And another thing...

Posited:

Iverson is so authentic, his body, physically adapted to his conditions and thus, his game.

Proof:

Allen Iverson grew up in EXTREME poverty in Newport News. He had no running water, which almost exclusively means third world (favela even?)level nutrition. From this, his growth was severely stunted and thus he became the ultimate underdog. If you have seen his arms in person, OFF the court you know what I'm saying here. Thus, the would be small forward/shooting guard (I mean he has what a 6'10" reach), was reduced to a 5'10" "point" guard.

But, then the severity of poverty struck again, for Bubba Chuck (which defines a complete illiteracy, does it not) had no assets to surround himself with, a little bird told me they don't build houses without indoor plumbing in affluent or even normal poublic housing, neighborhoods. So he had to fight to do EVERYTHING (his football types make Vince Young like a supporting member of the Texas football team). He did so to such a fanatic level that he burned whatever scrap calories he found in an effort to re-orient the systems that surrounded him.

Whether his revolution succeeded or not is secondary (is Che a sideline communist because South America is not Socialist?), Allen Iverson was built to overthrow the system, with the physical preconditions occurring, his game lent itself willing.

And if Donnie Walsh would just wake up, Allen Iverson would rebel again and steal back the history that Baron Davis robbed us of not too long ago.

Never forget May of 2001!

(On a sidenote, if American Needle v. the NFL ends free agency, would Bubba Chuck start his own team?)

 
At 7/25/2009 11:30 PM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

I've been chewing on this post for a week, and I'm still not sure I've identified what about it bugs me.

I think, though, that part of it has to do with this: "Incidentally, anyone who’s seen Iverson in the locker room, or otherwise with his guard down, knows that dude would be a monster on Twitter."

AI's always been more than an "on-message scowl," his hard-scrabble roots, and his uncompromising war on all obstacles, and that's been revealed sufficiently through old media and web 1.0 that you and I and a lot of readers of this site know it. Obviously, those things weren't the predominant story or of much interest to the L's regular cast of talking heads (whom I've regularly wanted to scream at whenever they opened their mouths about AI). The other story was there, though, for those who looked for it. And for me, the side of him that draws comics, raps, and earns the personal loyalty of so many players of so many different types has been an essential part of his "realness." I might be amused if he were regularly (and non-promotionally) on Twitter, but I don't think his ability to be both accessible and himself has been limited by the absence of the medium.

Maybe I'm just the type who's willing to spend a decade getting to know a good friend or an athlete whom I admire (to the extent that one can know another from that distance), including making more of an effort myself than clicking a "Follow" button. Maybe I'm just an old dude who thinks Twitter is cute (or in the case of Iran, intriguing) but no better suited to allowing for that rightly desired combination of accessibility and authenticity than careful manipulation of old media. Maybe I'm just sad that AI is going to go out with neither whimper nor bang, but merely fading away.

But I think you're off the mark a little to say that the balance of accessibility and authenticity was unattainable pre-Twitter. Not only was, as I said, that possible previously, but Twitter personalities are as much artifice as anything that AI ever did. Plus, to the extent that those personalities aren't a new form of artifice and aren't MJ's "sphinx-like mask" of corporate blandness, the current generation owes a huge debt to AI for carving out that space before Twitter was a glimmer in anyone's eye. Which you implicitly acknowledge. But in acknowledging it, you seem to fail a little to sufficiently account for the fact that AI was authentically presenting himself while engaged in the struggle to create that space.


wv: disagob = Disagreeable Ol' Bastard ("Get off my lawn, for the babies!")

 
At 7/26/2009 2:28 AM, Blogger tray said...

I don't care about or terribly care for Twitter. It's cute but whatever. As for Iverson, he was more than an on-message scowl. Maybe early Iverson was that, but don't you remember the practice press conference (not just the sound bite from it)? That was complicated and conflicted stuff. I don't like him much anymore and think he's getting what he deserves, but his persona never struck me as a posture.

 
At 8/22/2009 12:50 AM, Blogger Michael said...

The thing about Iverson was (not sure why I'm already talking in the past tense, but it feels that way right now) that he didn't only show us himself, but he revealed things about the world around him. We saw him treated unfairly from the very beginning, and it only seemed to get worse as his career progressed. But it was the way that AI responded to that unfair treatment that really endeared him to me. He never whined, he never complained, and he even laughed about his practice rant when he got signed to Detroit. He always took it as a warrior, just like he took those hits on the court each and every night.

 

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