Michael Phelps, not just America’s Golden Child, but Golden Child eight times over, was caught *GASP* partaking in some other Olympic water event at which he apparently also excels like a champ.
And though conservative American values and traditional niceties demand outrage (or perhaps just… disappointment), a much larger segment of America just doesn’t care. Is this yet a further sign of the times that only those old and out-of-touch (and, of course, it bears hilariously repeating, no longer in control of the country) folksy type folks give a fuck who in this country smokes weed? Add this to the slew of casual Judd Apatow movies, White Castle endorsements, and Obama’s nonchalant response that inhaling is, indeed, the whole point, and we may be able to claim something that George Carlin never will: the legalization of Cannabis in our lifetime!
Or not. Phelps apologized to the outraged conservative public outcriers, telling the Associated Press that he will have to ‘live with’ what he did (oh, how will he manage to go on), but hopes he can grow from it (he’s going to start growing already). “By no means is it fun for me. By no means is it easy,” he told The Associated Press after a swim in Baltimore. His sponsors vow continued support, but hope that he ‘learned his lesson.’*
Instead of once again using this forum to expound upon my libertarian views on federal intervention of a naturally-occurring substance, the history and medical research related to this specific drug, or the inalienable rights of man to his property, pursuit of happiness, and condition his condition is in… well, I think Robin Williams said it best…
In a related news item, documents unsealed by a federal judge Wednesday in the government’s criminal case against Barry Bonds reveals five blood and urine tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs. My response to all the pushy, Bonds-ass-kissing, loud-mouth (for no discernible or meritable reason), cut-you-off-by-the-stadium-on-game-day Giants fans out there: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! And though this comes as no surprise except, perhaps, to those in denial or chemically imbalanced or delusional, it remains to be seen if he will be convicted, face house arrest, or simply kicked out of MLB and the Hall of Fame (as was Pete Rose for merely arrogantly betting on his own team to win, but that too, is another rant).
When asked if I thought his records suddenly don’t count as a result of his drug use, my immediate and unqualified response was and is a solid ‘yes.’ The argument was made to me today that since everybody in baseball is doing it, then everybody in baseball has to do it to keep up (funny, the ‘everybody’s doing it’ argument was exactly what D.A.R.E. said to avoid). I’ll go even further with this ‘slippery slope competitive edge’ future of baseball: Rollerball Thunderdome arenas with springboard bases and spiked paths and laser cannons. If the American Empire is going the way of the Roman Empire, we should at least have our own Amphitheatrum Flavium for our national pasttime.
Why the hypocritical distinction? Well, I believe there’s a big difference between Michael Phelps taking time off from his lifelong obsessive pursuit to be the freakishly best at some random human skill (that, for the record, I cannot do at all) and outright… you know.. cheating. Hell, if the guy didn’t smoke pot his life would seem pretty one-note and sad. Or.. eight golden notes… and sad.
As a matter of fairness, if Pete Rose cannot be in the Hall of Fame, then neither should Bonds, McGwire, or Giambi. Or the Red Sox, but just because I hate them.
The argument can be made that as a role model to children, these celebrities need to be more responsible in their personal lives so as not to promote copycat drug use. And while we do perhaps need to examine the society that has made just such a sick atmosphere possible not only on the professional stage but in the high school locker room, I think most of that fear-mongering finger-waggling is bullshit. Just as someone cannot be unwillingly hypnotised, kids are going to do what they want to do, and not do what they don’t want to do. Try getting them to eat spinach. People who once thought Michael Vick was a great football player didn’t all go out and torture dogs. They don’t just buy Air Jordans because Michael Jordan says they’ll make you a better basketball player. They buy them because they’re really nice sneakers, and because Michael Jordan says they’ll make you a better basketball player. They smoke pot not just because their hero does it, but mostly because it feels good.
The issue that I think supersedes all of this is that of hero worship. Or in America, our pantheon of celebrity worship, glazed with a golden hue and exported around the world. It’s unhealthy to the point of creating screaming, makeup-running, gender-ambiguous Youtube rants in their defense. No matter what they manage to get themselves into, the American people gladly pay ridiculous magazine fees weekly to digest the goings-ons of their inner courts, elevating these malleable, fallible people into epic, immortal, untouchable, nigh-fictional deities. Who Zeus is sleeping with behind Hera’s back, how many kids Shiva has adopted from around the world, when Anansi is getting out of rehab, what racial epithet Anubis might have uttered, how much Zoroaster paid for his boat, Loki hopping madly up and down on Medusa’s couch, and all the backstabbing treachery from Valhalla.
That’s why I don’t expect anything from anybody. Ever. You can only ever be disappointed. I’ll point you towards Spiderman 3.
The greatest myth of all is that excelling at something makes you a better person. History shows that quite often the opposite is true. Ghengis Khan. Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin. Except maybe Alex Trebek. That’s the morality figure (not to mention body type) that should be our societal ideal.
I don’t even advocate exercise, let alone steroid-induced iron-pumping.
I mean, just look at some of the horrendous things that can happen:
Until next time, keep it mediocre.
*Smoking weed is still a crime, I wouldn’t lie to you. But in London, you are caught on CCTV over three-hundred times a day, and graffiti still manages to go up. Food for thought.