Monday, September 14, 2009

The thwee Ws of wude: Wilson, Williams, West

Question of the week and our times: whatever happened to class?

All bad things come in threes.

How else can you explain Joe Wilson, Serena Williams, and Kanye West: the thwee Ws of wude, the tyrants of tempestuousness, the sultans of sore losers?
  • Wilson yells at Barack Obama in the middle of a speech: "You lie!"
  • Williams has a temper tantrum on the tennis court that would make John McEnroe blush: "I'll shove this ball down your throat!"
  • West grabs the mike from 19-year-old Taylor Swift at the VMAs: "BeyoncĂ© had one of the greatest videos of all time!"
A blip at the end of a long summer, or a larger reflection of society today, and the end of civility as we know it?

  • Is Wilson wacist?

I had a debate with my hairstylist last week (yes, I have those three strands of hair styled), and argued that Wilson's outburst went further than simply showing disrespect to Obama.

My hairstylist disagreed, so I felt more than a little vindicated when Maureen Dowd and Bill Maher later agreed with me on the basis of a damning backstory.

Says Dowd:
"The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president."
That Wilson's outburst was unprecedented and universally condemned hasn't stopped him from vowing to continue to "speak out." Like a dirty comedian who thinks that no one is laughing because "my jokes are too edgy for you prudes," Wilson mistakes the condemnation for his being too hip for the room.

Out of touch and obnoxious: talk about your dream ticket.

  • Is Williams a waging lunatic?

Williams' anger is easier for me to understand, because I suck at sports.

I have golfed twice in my life: the first time, I was struck with beginner's luck and did better than anyone could have guessed. Thinking that I was a golfing prodigy, I went golfing the following week and could barely hit the ball. I'm embarrassed to remember that I threw a club and yelled out the f-word on the last hole. Of course, I was only 15 years old at the time.

In Williams' defense, I'm sure that I'd be even worse at tennis, and would likely throw that racquet right across the court at the first sign that I wasn't going to win: the tennis equivalent of throwing the Scrabble board and yelling, "I quit!"

Williams' behavior was out of character, so it's sad that it took her two apologies to really apologize:
"I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it's not the way to act -- win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result."
In tennis, could it be that "love" means never having to say you're sorry?

  • Is West for weal?

Imagine Annie Hall winning the Best Picture Oscar in 1978, and C-3P0 grabbing the mike from Diane Keaton and yelling, "Star Wars is the greatest motion picture of the 20th Century (Fox)!!"

No, even droids know that there are times when you're going to lose, and that means sitting down and shutting up while the winner takes a bow - even when you think that the winner is full of crap.

Hell, even ABBA knows that:

To Kanye, love Agnetha.

So, when West jumped up onstage and stole that winning moment from Taylor Swift, he might've thought he was celebrating Beyoncé, when - in fact - he was being boorish and rude to the person to whom the moment belonged.

Some are suggesting that West, who once said that "George W. Bush hates black people," is guilty of "hating white people" for knocking Swift and heralding Knowles. I chalk it up to West's narcissistic belief that anything he has to say by definition trumps what anyone else has to say.

Speaking of "trumps:" so boorish and rude is West, he's even being condemned by the boorish and rude Donald Trump himself, who is calling for a boycott of anything Kanye-related, including - I presume - those goofy shutter shades.

The big winners of last night were Swift and Knowles; in this time of unprecedented rudeness, they could take their good-sportsmanship shtick on the road together.

"All the single men (put a sock in it)!"


  1. An' even kids'll knock yous down sos they can pass/Nobody's got no class

    Kanye's narcissism is definitely the contributing factor to his impromptu speech. I was particularly struck by his latest 'blog-pology' (which he seems to have to make more and more frequently) where he stated that he is a "real fan of pop culture", yet he couldn't let Swift have her moment as a driving force of pop culture herself. If anything, he threw a wrench in the recognition of what pop culture is according to the MTV Music Awards. Yet I imagine if it had been him as the receiver, it would have been a different story.

    I can however identify with your understanding of sport's related anger: Gimli's mini golf course finishes with a giant metal Kool-Aid man through which you shoot your ball. Every game I have played there my game has ended with me angrily hitting it with the neon orange ball repeatedly, screaming "Oh yeah?!"

  2. I think Serena Williams actions were the most understandable of the three. Sports are very intense and it's so easy to get caught up in the moment. There's a lot of things said in sports that are just anger and intensity coming out. Serena's actions were just human nature in action (not that makes it excusable).

    It seems that more and more celebrities, politicians, and athletes (people who are supposed to be role models)are beahving badly and then making pathetic half-hearted attempts at apologizing. It really does seem like class is a lost art.

  3. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if race was in the back of Wilson's mind when he said what he said. It was indecorous no matter what motivated it. As long as his racial views don't taint his legislative proposals, they aren't worth discussing.


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