Use your best Mike Breen voice when you read the above title. Though I could just have easily have gone with, “What’s next, Rony Seikaly and Michelle Bachmann?” or, “Glen Rice never could stop anyone from scoring!” or even, “Sarah Palin and an overrated, volume-shooting small forward walk into a bar…”
Pun-tastic headlines notwithstanding, for those who have a life might have missed it, the interwebs has gone giddy with the news that this nation’s fave former VP candidate evidently made the beast with two backs one sultry night back in 1987 with a then-Michigan Wolverine undergrad whom you may recall from a one-year stint with the Knicks in 2001 by name of Glen Rice.
Where to begin…
Any of y’all who’ve read my writing before will note that I tend to be particularly fascinated by the intersection/bone-rattling parallels between the sporting world and the so-called “real” world. I find it somewhat piquant that an endeavor in which we, or at least I invest so much emotional energy as a means of “escaping” some of the more brutish realities of my/our daily lives, actually achieves the opposite and we/I find ourselves all-too reminded of the aforementioned soul-crushing ironies.
So a politician hooking up with a baller would seem to be a fat pitch down the middle for your humble correspondent. As I babbled in my most recent ESPN thingy, Vegas be damned, it’s not too hard to see how events will unfold in sports. The plot lines are fairly simple – Us v. Them, David v. Goliath, Isiah Thomas v. everybody else and on and on. If I’m going to remain true to this dictum, and if as I state, sports does mirror the philosophical, the sociological, and/or the political, it should be fairly simple to foresee how this bit of celebrity gossip will play out. Here we go
The usual suspects (late-night comics, Twitter, Deadspin) will make a series of zingy jokes like my decidedly un-pyramidal lede. The Right-Wing blogs /Fox News will go bat guano about the invasion of privacy and the so-called Left Wing Media’s all-consuming hatred of/desire to destroy Palin. (The fact that this is exactly what the Right did w/r/t Clinton and any/all of his paramours should not be noted. No hypocrisy at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.) The Left/MSNBC will, in fact, giggle like schoolgirls before quickly downshifting to some ham-fisted, painfully academic, tortuous attempt to use the Palin/Rice coupling to comment on the nature of race relations in this country. To which the right will double down on their (manufactured) outrage and explode with cries of ever-increasing ferocity accusing the Left of, “Playing the race card!” (Paging Andrew Breitbart! Andrew Breitbart to the stage, please). At which point, something even more gossipy about Kim Kardashian or whomever will occur and we’ll all forget the whole thing ever happened.
There. I just gave you 3-4 days of your life back. You’re welcome.
I’m really sorry if any of this sounds holier-than-thou. When it comes to celebrity gossip, I’m holier-than-very few. I mean, I read Us Weekly without irony (usually at the dentist/doctor’s office, but it still counts). I can tell you the real names and current activities of every member of the cast of, “The Facts of Life.” I’m a fracking actor fer chrissakes. I slobber all this scheisse up like a pig at a trough.
This, though, it wasn’t as fun as watching J-Lo’s latest marriage fall apart. Maybe it’s because, wherever one may fall on the Left-Right spectrum, one cannot deny that a part of Ms. Palin’s appeal, is…er…libidinous in nature. As evidence, I offer this (it’s a fake — in case you had your doubts) and this slobbering piece from Post pundit Rich Lowry. If you really want to dig deep into the muck, Google “sarah palin porn tape” (SERIOUSLY NSFW). Palin fantasies, from the moment McCain plucked her from obscurity, have run rampant. But a fantasy is always, always more powerful than the reality. And with this story, the fantasy of Palin-as-sex-object is shattered by the reality of what occurred in her life.
Can’t you see Palin as a young reporter, trying to figure out her way in the world, clearly a sports geek (like your humble correspondent), finding herself in bed with a prominent athlete one night because it was a chance to touch fame/success/adoration that she herself had not achieved, and at the time, possibly doubted she ever would? I think we all have, somewhere in the recesses of our grey matter, a fairly ornate fiction of what might occur if we ever met [insert celebrity crush here. For me, it's Christina Hendricks] and everything went oh-so-perfectly to the point that we found ourselves in their arms. I don’t know how anyone with an operant limbic system could read about someone, Palin in this instance, for whom the fiction became fact and not see something human and fragile and almost touching in her tale (no pun intended), possibly fraught with tinges of sadness/nostalgia/regret.
And if you can see Palin as a real person, well, then you can neither mock her or delight in her demise nor hold her up as some amalgam of the ideal wife/mother/President/Virgin Mary/Mary Magdalene. The story’s a shot straight to the heart of what we really want from our celebrities: A mask with nothing behind it but a shinier, nicer, mask, and behind that another and another…to the point of infinite regression.
So, 1000 words to the contrary, I’m going to leave this one alone. If any posters would like to have a long, dreary conversation about racial identity in America I’ve got a 20-page paper from college about the stereotype/myth/fantasy of the African-American male as sexual Superman that I’d be more than happy to send along.
But if some enterprising Porn magnate starts shooting, “Who’s Nailin’ Palin 2: From Waaaayyyy Downtown…Bang!” (featuring Lex Steele as Glen Rice) anytime in the near future, I’m demanding a cut of the gross profits.