Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eyes Everywhere Ain't Seeing Nothing

I used to be a sports fanatic.

Depending on the season, I was engrossed in baseball, football or basketball because I found the drama of athletic achievement amazing. Not only was I watching these sports, but I was outside with my friends trying to recreate the things I saw on television.

The thing is, over the years, my feelings towards sports have changed. Some of it is just growing up and having different interests and responsibilities. But, a lot of it is that as I've aged I've become more aware of how sports narratives are created. I've become aware of the way the media and even sports leagues themselves shape the public's perception of athletes.

The problem is most folks don't understand that's what's happening. When they hear media reports about an athlete being a bad guy, they assume he must be a bad guy. Fans rarely question the motivations of the person writing the article, or wonder how well the writer actually understands the subject being discussed.

Recently there have been two high profile cases of athletes being dissected by the media because of their actions. Those two players are Michael Vick and Stephon Marbury. Vick, as most of you know, was recently released from prison after serving time for financing a dog fighting ring. Marbury has started producing extended videos about his life on the web that feature what many have deemed "crazy" behavior.

The media narratives regarding Marbury and Vick appear to have been set in stone. Both men are considered the lowest form of human life, and there doesn't seem to be much they can do to change that. Story after story has been written about the horrible behavior of both of these players, and I find it disturbing.

People in this country are conditioned to accept information from the media as if these multi-million dollar corporations do not have ulterior motives. Americans are trained to view the world through a conservative or liberal lens, and media companies feed that conflict with reports that hype controversy.

We mistakenly view the media as objective observers and recorders but that couldn't be further from the truth. All media companies have business goals that dictate how they gather the news. The whole liberal and conservative rift is bogus because the real concern is what makes money and what doesn't.

Increasingly it has become clear that demonizing black men, portraying them as subhuman, marauding thugs is what makes money. As cameras have intruded further and further into the lives of sports figures, what I've seen is a focus on making sure the idea of the uncontrollable, dangerous Negro remains in the forefront. Marbury and Vick are just the most recent examples of this focus.

Open your eyes and pay attention.



LisaMJ said...

THANK YOU!!! I wasn't familiar with Stephon Marbury but the Vick thing has been driving me up the wall. I have seen many folk, white "friends" mostly on Facebook behaving as though the bloody sky was falling b/c the Eagles picked up Vick. Throwing out Jerseys, putting tix up on e-bay, decrying the end of civilization. I mean sheesh! What Vick did was wrong and I love animals and would probably drop kick someone if I saw them hurt an animal, BUT, somehow I've thought if Mr. I'm retired, not retired, Brett Favre, or one of the Manning Bros, or any other major white player (not a football fan so I don't have many names to pull out) I doubt the brou-ha-ha would be so great. Some folks would be mad, but this level of demonizint is insane.

You are also on point about the media. I have been so angry and outraged with the media for the past few years it isn't even funny. The blatant bias, the bullcrap about the "liberal" media, that Nixon started, and the crap about the media being objective. No such bloody thing, never has been, never will be, everything is subjective, though sometimes people try very hard to be fair and balanced, that hasn't happened in a long time. I mean the fact that Jon Stewart, who I LOVE, but who is a comedian/actor was listed as one of the most trusted people in the media shows how sorry things are these days. I despise cable news on GP and I finally saw Keith Olberman, "the liberal" last week when I was at a friend's house and I found him to be just as scary in his way as Limbaugh, Beck, et al, just b/c of the fear-mongering, hysterical (calm voice but hysterical message), none of those folks are helping and too many people get their news from these folks. He isn't as mad and as hateful as the Beck crew, but none of these people are helping the level of civil discourse in this country. It is like the nation is going truly screwy.

Oh, and I plan to watch the Eagles, get an Eagles sticker, and a Vick shirt just to make up for all the folks who are dumping them and to show appreciation for them giving a brother a second chance. That is another pet peeve of mine, for a nation that claims to be so Christian, we sure seem to not be very forgiving of people who've messed up and served their debt to society.

One last point, another person on Facebook made the best point I've seen about this, is that most of the folks so upset about the Vick thing, eat meat and will scarf burgers and wings (me included) and the horrible way most agricultural companies treat those chickens, and cows when raising them and before slaughtering them is far worse than anything Vick did to those dogs, so if they are so concerned with animal cruelty they need to stop eating meat and put their anti-Vick energy into closing or changing the animal products industry.

Sorry for the long rant, you touched several of my sore spots. Plus I've been on vacation, and thought you might have missed me, so I figured I'd make up for lost ranting :-)

Lisa J

Big Man said...

I had missed you.

I was just thinking about today and hoping I hadn't lost you as a commenter.

LisaMJ said...

:-) Nah just on vacay. You can't shake me that easily! Plus unless I just have a melt down from all of the foolishness going on in the world, I like to come here and get some well-written sanity.

Raving Black Lunatic