fredag, juli 07, 2006

Beyond Thunderdome

Like Tina Turner sang, "We don't need another hero." We don't.

Lord. I happened by ESPN on the Fourth of July in the closing moments of the network's coverage of Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest. Japanese intake-juggernaut Kobayashi (who's thrown on some muscle with his eating prize winnings) took his sixth consecutive title, consuming 53 1/2 dogs in, I think, 12 minutes. Second place, an American named Joey Chestnut, who apparently ate 52 dogs.

The spectacle of this contest (and it's near-suicidal gastro-intestinal statistics) is enough, I think. One does not need to slather on the masturbatory, flag-waving commentary. Yet, ESPN found a way to tie it to the Fourth, for all things must be tied to America on America's birthday, right?

As the broadcast was signing off, the commentator was talking to Kobayashi, who looked quite ill. The broadcaster congratulated Kobayashi. And then he said, "But you had a good challenge this time. I think America needed a hero today, and I think America found one in Joey Chestnut."


Yes. Joey Chestnut, sausage-eating glutton. He's up there with MLK, JFK, that key-on-a-kite-string fat guy who started public libraries and fire departments and all that. Soon, velvet portraits of Joey Chestnut will appear. Tempera paintings will show a serene-faced Joey Chestnut tearing open his chest to reveal an angelic, shining, bun-cupped wiener.

Good god. What a sad, desperate people we are, to judge by our programming.

Actually, it's the commentary that's the problem. The programming is fine. Why not watch a hot dog eating contest? But why try to make it about freedom? about the Founding Fathers?

The hero culture: ridiculous. Am I to believe that none of us will get our shit together if the Japanese keep trouncing us in sausage eating contests? Look, I'd love to drive you to the hospital, friend; but I'm just so bummed about Joey Chestnut, oh and that baseball game our city's team lost, and no Americans made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals (ending many decades of strong showings), and ...

In a time of war and under the thumb of a conservative regime, are we truly seeking that far and wide for something to get us out of bed in the morning?

Whoever that announcer was, I think it's safe to say Aaron Burr would have put a cap in his ass.
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