Thursday, 24 January 2008

Stars and influence.

"What the Snowman Learned About Love"

by Stars

I've been interested by the recent Tiger Woods non-story. Seems a sports anchor carelessly made a comment that had presumably racist overtones (something about Tiger's competitors lynching him), during a live broadcast. This was exacerbated when a golf magazine printed an issue with a big noose on the cover.

I like, though, that Tiger made one bland comment through his agent, and then stayed out of the mess: getting involved just lends the story more credence, which is the last thing we need in the modern frantic news cycle. By remaining above it all, Tiger got to focus on his golf, and he got to say "Come on, America, can we PLEASE move beyond the constantly-played race card, and get back to playing golf and stuff?" --he wasn't offended, the anchor didn't mean any harm, but a lot of other people got offended on Tiger's behalf, and we have another tempest in a teapot.

Now I'm not saying race relations in America are suddenly perfect, but Tiger calling for some commentator's head is not going to help a single inner city school in a predominantly non-white neighbourhood get more funding. He helps out a lot with funds and foundations, but he does it quietly, and he doesn't wade into these kinds of reporting quagmires.

(it's also funny, because Tiger Woods is about as multi-racial as you can get. Personally, I see more South-Asian in him than African-American. His mom was half-Thai, so making a tsunami joke would have hit closer to home on the race card than a lynching crack. He's also parts Chinese, white, and Native-American. Begin debate on mixed-race people having good genes, in the same way mutt dogs are healthier and more even-tempered than pure breeds. . . NOW!)

--who do you think he resembles more? These African-American guys,

Here's Tiger and family, for comparison:

Or these Thai guys?
This guy's much older, but his face is shaped and proportioned EXACTLY like our golfing champ:

His eyes are not shaped like an East-Asian (and why should they be? Southeast-Asians usually have wider eyes than East-Asians), so people miss that a lot of his other features (except the texture of his hair) are Asian.

Sometimes I wonder what celebrities should do about their fame and social consciousness. When Angelina Jolie tries to make life better for some villages in South Asia, when George Clooney makes hard-hitting movies that ask tougher questions than Fox News is willing to ask, I feel proud to be a human.

When the defining athlete of his generation, Michael Jordan's most famous quote on a social issue is "Republicans buy shoes, too," that makes me disappointed that he's choosing to use his fame to line his pockets and stump his endorsements instead of standing for something.

When the defining athlete of the '60s, Muhammed Ali, accepted a two year suspension from boxing during his prime rather than fight in a war that was against his religion, well, whether you agree with him or not, you have to respect that integrity.

But then, when U2's Bono gets preachy, sometimes we want him to stop preaching and (as Noel Gallagher says in the link,) "Play 'One' and shut the ____ up". However, I also respect the hell out of him for putting his clout behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign, and using his celebrity to bend the ears of some serious world-leader-ness.

Antitrust, anticompetitive bullocks: Bill Gates is my favourite rich guy.

And I think that Tiger Woods does enough that maybe, the best role model we can have is the guy who ignores race and simply rises to the top, refusing to engage that ugliness.

Sure, it's easy for me, a white male, to say that. . .but I respect Woods for his choice, because sometimes, feeding the news cycle is like negotiating with terrorists: you only invite more hysteria.

So what do I want from my celebrities? I don't know. I DO know that I think heroes should be people like my grandfather, and not stars or celebrities, however, if celebrities decide to use their influence for good, I really, really admire that (as long as you don't get preachy, I guess. Are you listening, Bono?)

Meanwhile, I'm also not sure whether the way to affect change is to talk MORE about the need for it, or to talk LESS: talking about change too much can lead to a victim mentality that doesn't help anyone, but ignoring the need for change doesn't work either. . . and who speaks for those who have no voice, and boy, it sure gets tiring (Thanks, Bono) "Tryin' to throw your arms around the world".

But if we don't, who will?

This darn awakening social consciousness thing makes life more confusing. Maybe I'll go watch some sports instead. . . and oppress someone. Buy a shirt made in China, or non-fair-trade coffee.

Oh well. I'm tired, and sick, and cranky, and I'm gonna go to bed now.


tamie, the tamie said...

On so many levels, I love this post.

bradj said...

You have a ton of perspective on "celebrity" living where you do. As we've talked about celebrity-saturation, your locale ranks right up there! It's probably slightly different than here in its content and concentration. For example, this just in: in a remarkable new twist, Anna Nicole Smith is still dead!

Bono is like keeping a baseball bat under your bed: paying a heck of a lot of attention to it isn't very rewarding, but knowing it's there is comforting. And it's a good thing it's power isn't being used for evil! :-)

(I tried to think of a way to write that without making Bono an 'it', or the baseball bat a 'he', and just gave up...)

ps I'm half sorry for all the fake news comments. I don't know why I do that here, but I know that it gets your sister laughing, and that's pretty good incentive! :-)

Roboseyo said...

this just in:

Roboseyo hadn't even noticed the phoney headlines until you pointed them out.

(Don't you hate when that happens -- when somebody says something like "sorry my jaw clicks when I chew" and you HADN'T noticed until then, but now you CAN'T STOP noticing.)

Roboseyo said...

i always try to use MY Bono for good. With great power chords comes great responsibility chords, you know.