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How Technology Is Pushing Celebrities Into An Era of Transition



Here’s a reminder and my column links, then I’m gonna launch into a theory I have.  Should be fun today:


If you see or hear any extreme quotes (great/awful/exciting/dull), feel free to fire them over in the comment section or to my email or via carrier pigeon or whatever.  I’ll try to keep our Best and Worst Quote-Giver Standings in the right sidebar relatively well updated.  BizNasty is starting the slow, inevitable pull-away (thanks to last nights quote about Chris Thorburn: “He can smoke a cigar in the shower his nose is so big.”  Now THAT’S good stuff.)


Tuesday’s Puck Daddy: The vulgar world between whistles

Wednesday’s Hockey Primetime: Making the step from college to pro


Today’s theory is an extension of Bruce Arthur’s lastest column on Brett Favre: Great American Entertainer.

Basically, Arthur’s column is a walk-through on the ‘ol gunslinger (or as columnist Jason Whitlock has started calling him, “the ‘ol dongslinger), and how he’s gone from being everything a hero quarterback should be, to some low-level narcissist who constantly provides a high-level of entertainment.

From Arthur:

In the process, he went from being the epitome of what we were told quarterbacks were supposed to be — square-jawed, durable, charming, a little reckless, heroic at times, a Marlboro man with a golden arm — to a selfish, drama-loving diva.

In the piece, Arthur mentions how this has become the age of implosion for famous sports figures.  He points to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Tiger Woods, maybe Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, and now it looks like you can add Brett Favre to that list.  And just for kicks, let’s all read this awesome parenthetical paragraph he tacked on before we continue:

(By the way, between Favre’s alleged dong shots and Tiger Woods’ marriage-dissolving text messages, Derek Jeter should offer a seminar. No, really. He should rent a nice hall, and print up flyers or send out a promotional email or something, and explain to fellow sports stars how you can live in a high-profile city, have sex with almost anybody in the world, never once be caught up in scandal or public disapproval of any kind, and stay a hero. He could charge $1-million a minute.)

LIterally, he could charge one million a minute.  Tiger would attend for hours. 

After that preamble, here’s my theory:

Only football jersey I have is his Packers one.

This is a transition period for professional athletes and other stars in general, because of technology.  As a group, they will be in more public scandals in a five-to-eight-year span (of which we’re in now) than they ever were before, and ever will be after.

When our stars of today grew up, their heroes could do nearly anything within the law (and some things outside of it) and get away with it.  There were no cellphones, let alone any that also functioned as picture-and-video cameras.  There was no twitter, no facebook, no voicemails to convert to mp3 files, no sex-tape making and sharing devices, no texting, no recording tools, just…. word-of-mouth and ink, really.

If someone saw or heard a celebrity do something shady they could be talked to, or paid off, or just generally written off as a nut.  What’s that rumour you heard?  Ridiculous.  Then said star would hit a homerun or throw a touchdown and it would all go away.  Hell, it almost all goes away today if the fallen star plays well on the field after we know they did something horrible (Vick!), let alone when all the evidence they had was a few people playing ”the telephone game.”

Since those rumours stayed unproved yammerings, there was no reason to believe anything but the best about those highest on our pedestals.  Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, Joe Montana and Joe Namath, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky, you name it – rumours may exist about many, but 90% of fans still believe in the purity of their idols.  And they should – innocent until proven guilty, and it’s healthy to believe in your fellow man.  Maybe a touch naive, but overall a positive thing I’d say.

A simpler time, when nobody ever ever did anything wrong ever.

Our stars of today seemed to learn from those stars of yesterday - nobody ever really got in trouble, regardless of what the whispers on the street may have been.  Caution must not have seemed important when fame reared its pretty little head.

Now it’s a whole new ball game. 

Any Olympian of years past was free to rip a bong hit three years from their next Olympic event and maintain a positive public image.  Thanks to everyone having cameras in their jeans these days, Michael Phelps is the butt of hippie pot-smoker jokes that make it seem like he’s both Cheech and Chong.  For him, I doubt that’ll change anytime soon.  It’s just to funny to pass up.

Soon, these stars won’t be so caught off guard by this new era of media and technology.  They must be seeing that things are different now.

And so, they’ll learn.

The next generation of heroes will have new handlers and a new education.  They will see how the shady dealings of today’s celebrities were not aided by technology, but rather undermined by it.  It will leads to a fork in the road, and stars will go one of two ways:

That's veteran, right there.

They’ll either:

(A) develop more clandestine methods, with a more airtight group than Tiger Woods (if possible), and learn from the likes of Derek Jeter  or 

(B) shape up.  You have to be Batman to be a successfully scuzzy celebrity today, and some might find it’s just not worth the effort.

It’s not Babe Ruth days anymore.

So here we are, in our chaotic little transition period.  A time where the “I can do anything I want” celebrities of today are learning that they can’t.  The ride has been fun to follow (while a little unsettling), and we’re not at the fork in the road yet.

But in the coming years, most stars will have to make the choice:  Do they want to be Batman, or respectable? 

I’ll let Arthur close us out:

(You know, not enough people are talking about how impressive it is that the oldest non-kicker in the NFL was able to master sending pictures of his junk, which is something the teenagers are reportedly doing these days. He really is like a kid out there!)


13 Responses to “How Technology Is Pushing Celebrities Into An Era of Transition”
  1. Alanna says:

    I think you owe Brian Burke at least a point in the quote contest. His quotes on parents being dilusional about their children’s abilities, the Toronto Sun being valuable…if you own a puppy or a parakeet, Grabovski being “stupid but healthy” after his fight at the Olympics. I realize sime of these are older quotes, but c’mon, you owe him a little credit.

  2. Andrew says:

    Jeter’s secret: not getting married. If Tiger was single, no one would care how many women he was sleeping with.

  3. minnesotagirl71 says:

    “innocent until proven guilty, and it’s healthy to believe in your fellow man. Maybe a touch naive, but overall a positive thing I’d say.”

    I want to stay naive. I recently had the opportunity to meet some of my favorite hockey players. I almost didn’t go because I knew that if they turned out to be idiots or assholes I wouldn’t want to cheer for them anymore. I’m happiest when they are on one side of the glass and I am on the other. Let’s keep that barrier in place and allow me to be wholeheartedly cheer them on!

  4. Derek says:

    Minnesotagirl: Then there is the reverse situation, when you meet someone who is awesome off the ice and then irrationally believe in them on the ice and are devastated when they fail. Not sure what is worse.

  5. karlooch says:

    When the F did this world get so obsessed with everyone else’s personal lives? It’s crazy! TMZ, Ent Tonight, etc is out of control. I agree with you JB about the cell phones, texting, cameras, etc being dangerous for famous people. The actual sporting action is second fiddle to ‘who is banging who’ and ‘who cheated on their wife’. Personally I could give two shits if Sidney Crosby bangs 437 women a month….I just like watching him play hockey. I could care less if T Woods cheated on his wife….I just lik(ed) watching him dissect Augusta National. I’m outta here….keep up the great blog JB!

  6. jtbourne says:

    I’m with ya bud, I barely like Tiger Woods any less and don’t feel bad about it. Never was cheering for his fidelity as a husband.

  7. Derek says:

    I think I would like Crosby more if he banged 437 women in a month. That is an impressive numbe.

    I agree with you guys though. I could not care less about that kind of stuff. Actually, that’s a lie. Those stories are always fun to hear about. But I could do without the holier than thou bs spilled by so many people who would act the exact same way if the shoes were on the other feet.

  8. minnesotagirl71 says:

    Derek – One more good reason to keep them on one side of the glass and me on the other.

    “Never was cheering for his fidelity as a husband.” That’s hilarious. My problem is I do want to cheer for them to be good people as well as good athletes. If I learn they are not good people, I can’t continue to cheer for them even if they are still good athletes.

  9. Char says:

    The problem with Woods is that he didn’t simply present himself as a great golfer. He was Tiger Woods, Family Man, with all the attendent endorsements, praise, hero-worship etc. etc. If he hadn’t put up that front, I think fewer people would be so totally disgusted with him.

    As for Jeter, I guess Bruce Arthur has never heard the “hopes and dreams” story. ;-)

  10. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    Great column about the NCAA-to-NHL transition. Puts an intelligent eye on it instead of, “He’s a bust,” or “He came out of nowhere.”
    Within that, I wonder if “the ultimate goal is to move on personally” is the biggest reason the Gophers have struggled in this new, one-and-done era. I know a lot of schools lose a lot of kids, and have for a while, but we’ve seen a lot of high draft picks perform at “low” levels around here only to explode in the NHL.
    For all of the good that Wheeler, Leddy, Goli and the rest did with the M, it seemed they were just better suited to a pro-style game. Maybe they were just pushing too hard to “get theirs.” What you wrote just makes me think that having a group of older, drafted-but-need-to-put-in-my-time players is the path to prolonged success.

  11. Hooks Orpik says:

    Re: Your media competition, Sid will have it sewn up if any of your readers watch his 30 minute special interview on FSN Pittsburgh this Friday at 10.

    Paraphrased (but roughly right on) from the promo (when asked what his favorite hockey memory is)..

    “Oh definitely the Stanley Cup, for sure. We worked really hard to get there and it’s something special because, yuou know, 29 other teams are gunning for it every year.”

    By the way, they don’t even show the question on the promo, but you can just tell on his answer exactly what it was. Love Sid but jeeeeeez.

  12. Derek says:

    The NCAA article touched on a pet peeve of mine at the NHL level. A lot of fans tend to love the guys with the motors that never stop going. They equate skating around a lot at full speed to working hard. Instead those players are often just skating themselves out of position.


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  1. [...] not like I’ll be the first or last to have done it.  It’s like my entry about Favre/celebs and technology.  There’s a learning curve here, and I’m just going to have to accept that some people [...]

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