Maria: I don’t know if you guys are into football, but did you see the guy on the Seahawks team last week who went all crazy on the post-game interview?
Katie: Sorry. Nope. Seahawks=birds near the ocean? Or somesuch nonsense?
Maria: It’s Seattle’s football team. They played the 49ers for some big game. (Not the Superbowl, but one of the lead-up games?) I only know this because we got our annual 3-month cable subscription for KU basketball season and Chris sneaks in other sports.
Katie: I really hope we have diehard football fans reading our blog. Instant street cred.
Maria: Well, I happened to see this interview after the game. A reporter asked a football player about his thoughts on the last play, when he stopped the other guy from getting a touchdown. And he went all crazy on her, started yelling at the camera with wild eyes.
Katie: That sounds like an appropriate response.
Maria: Whatever. I thought it was kind of funny and way more interesting than the usual mid- or post-game interviews. Besides, those guys have to become total machines when they play football and we expect them to have a thoughtful, calm analysis of whatever brutality just happened?
Maria: Oh, yeah. I’ve seen that. It is funny.
So through Twitter I found out that people were all upset about this football player. (Can we find out his name?) (And by “we,” I mean, “you”?) That he didn’t conduct himself more appropriately. Parents thought he wasn’t a very good role model for their kids.
Katie: We always get in such an uproar, especially on the Internet.
Oh, and it’s Richard Sherman.
Maria: Yeah, I’ve been wondering if everyone is really as crazy as they sound on the Internet.
Katie: So you’re saying that football players are bound to not say anything worthwhile and that we shouldn’t give them microphones but instead just let them pound the crap out of each other for our enjoyment?
Maria: That is absolutely not what I’m saying.
Katie: Oh. OK, well, I was going to agree, but I guess now you’re changing your story.
Maria: I have a huge amount of respect for athletes, actually.
But that respect (and my expectations of them) end at their athletic ability. I read a blogger who said perhaps parents who expect professional football players to be role models for their kids need to work on their parenting skills. I guess I tend to agree.
Katie: Oh, absolutely. I hate those silly questions, anyway. Even a very learned, philosophical person with loads of public speaking experience will have trouble responding to the request, “So take me through that last play.” It’s like when they ask celebrities at the Oscars how it feels to be nominated. Umm… good?
I also agree that expecting a professional athlete, or celebrity, or musician to be a role model is pretty ludicrous. Or…Ludacris? Ha. See what I did there?
It begs the question, though, about how to “make” your kids choose a certain role model. That seems like something a little bit out of parents’ control. Evie is only two and she has decided that Minnie Mouse is the pinnacle of cool. I do not support this decision. I keep showing her pictures of Mother Teresa and Michelle Obama, but she doesn’t really seem to care.
Maria: That Minnie Mouse business is inevitable. You can hold off exposure to the world for a while, but eventually kids will gravitate towards something you don’t want them to.
Growing up in small-town, white-bread Kansas, I was in high school when the whole ‘gangsta’ stuff was at it’s pinnacle. My friends called me Mer-Dawg. Friday was my favorite movie and I drove around singing “Regulators” and quoting Dr. Dre.
Katie: I preferred Bone Thugs ‘n Harmony.
Maria: I wonder, though, where does an entertainer’s responsibility begin and end? Like, I heard another parent upset about The Beibs getting arrested for a DUI. Or, take Robin Thicke. I’ve lightened up a bit about “Blurred Lines,” but it’s still not my fave. Am I expecting him to be a role model for me or something?
Katie: Oh, I have NOT lightened up about that. I don’t know if the term “role model” is right in that situation, acutally. It’s not like I’m looking at Robin Thicke to show me how to behave. But he is a culture-shaper, so I think intellectual push-back is sort of important.
Maria: A culture-shaper or a culture-reflector? And how is it different than your kid looking to a football player to teach him decorum?
Katie: I think he’s a shaper and a reflector because of his fame. I think you go into the music business (pop music, especially) partly for the fame, so you can’t want the fame without at least respecting that you have a certain measure of responsibility. But I’m not Robin Thicke’s mother, so I have very little control over that.
(Oh, thank you God, that I’m not Robin Thicke’s mother, by the way.)
Maria: I decided to give Robin Thicke a break when I found myself rapping I’m mutha-fucking P.I.M.P., conscience-free.
50 Cent’s my favorite to work out to.
Katie: We are all a little bit hypocritical, aren’t we?
Maria: I shouldn’t speak for anyone else, but I can say, yes, I am a hypocrite.
Katie: Oh, that’s very good of you. But I’m pretty sure every last one of us is at least some kind of hypocrite.
Maria: I’ve just been thinking maybe I’ll stay out of all the opinions on pop culture. But, deciding not to have an opinion is still having an opinion.
Right now it’s easier too, because my kids are still at an age where I almost completely control the input. I’ve just been thinking, as they get older, my challenge is teaching them how to think about the things they see and hear.
How, as opposed to What.
Katie: Yes! I was just writing something like that, but I’m glad you wrote yours because yours sounds better.
Maria: Joseph Gordon-Levitt was on Ellen the other day and said when he was growing up, his mom would point out the Laker Girls on TV and how their job is to be sexy while the athletes’ job was to be strong or fast. It reminded me that, if the TV’s on and the kids are around, they are listening not just to it, but also to the way Chris and I respond to it.
Katie: I saw that interview. I cheered audibly for his mother.
Maria: So, no pressure, but I can’t even zone out to the TV 3 months out of the year. Little eyes. Little ears. It makes the rest of the non-cable months less stressful, I guess.
Katie: I do think that’s the trick, though: to teach them how to interpret what they’re seeing and make strong choices despite what the culture-shapers and culture-reflectors do or say.
Maria: With some grace for the times the choices aren’t so strong? (Just picturing myself driving around in high school, sippin’ on gin and juice.)
Katie: Absolutely. At least I hope so, because I’m zoning out just like you are. And I say stupid things like how football players don’t deserve microphones (that was a joke, Very Strong Football Players). How in the world would we get on without some grace, for the love?
Maria: Does Miley Cyrus also get grace?
Just kidding. Yes.
Maria: I’m really feeling sick of the fabricated scandals. It’s like, we don’t want to do the difficult work in real life, so we tune into the TV and then the Internet to talk about what an outrage it all is.
I would take a break from all of it, except I have this blog. On the Internet. Where I’m talking about things that happen on TV…
Katie: Me too. But it is an outrage. Such a blasted outrage.