Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Moments of “…–Oh.”

So, Bill Cosby’s step-grandaughter has made a few waves.

Sorry. Let me back up.

It’s the actress Raven-Symone, who portrayed (among other roles) the impossibly-cute sixth-season addition to the 1980s’ “Cosby Show”, that I’m writing about. As all humans do, she has since grown up. She’s acquired various other facets of a career, and seems to have maintained a status as a moderate- to low-level public figure. If you’re a fan of “That’s So Raven”, you immediately take issue with the term “low-level”. If you’re not, she might have slipped off your radar in the time since she routinely, completely upstaged Bill Cosby on a weekly sitcom basis.

Last week, quietly, via her Twitter feed, she came out, expressing gratitude (in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decisions concerning same-sex marriage and other rights) that if she wanted to get married, now she could.

Predictably … because this is how the Internet works … many people were crushed, and said so via their Twitter feeds. The hashtag of choice was, “#childhoodruined”.

For the moment, let’s set aside any concerns about hyperbole here … because most online commenters set them aside, so what the heck.

 

I wonder, have you ever had a moment when you were disillusioned? When you found out that what you knew about someone … or what you thought you knew … or what you hoped you knew … wasn’t actually true?

Given my nerd status, you will not be shocked to know what some of my disillusionment examples are.

Or maybe I should call them Moments of “…–Oh.” That moment when you have to hit, not exactly the RESET button, but maybe the RECALIBRATE button. What I thought it was … is not what it is … and I shall have to adjust.

Some of those “…–Oh.” moments can be as small as discovering that the burger-and-ice-cream restaurant you loved as a kid actually doesn’t clean their kitchens very well. Or doesn’t treat their employees very well. They can be as personal as realizing (as a small child) that your parents don’t get along with their sisters and brothers (who are your aunts and uncles) absolutely all the time. They can be as wrenching as the fourth-grade moment when you discover that your best friend appears to be allied with the playground bully now. They can be as superficial as discovering that this year, your favorite drum corps abandoned last year’s uniforms, the ones you thought were perfect for them.

Don’t go trying to figure out which of those were mine, and which ones I made up off the cuff. That’s not important right now. What’s important right now is this:

The following two examples are, without question, my Moments of “…–Oh.”:

[] As a ten-year-old nerd, I watched, read, play-acted, wore Star Trek. Admired Mr. Spock’s cool, but really admired Captain Kirk’s ability to buckle his swash. And when I read a chapter in a book about Trek that detailed “behind-the-scenes at the filming of Star Trek” – the Original Series from the 1960s – well, that William Shatner guy certainly came off seeming like the guy you wanted to hang around with. Funniest guy on the set, endlessly devoted to getting that scene just right, willing to sign autographs at any moment.

Well, when you read an article written by someone who’s a big fan, what do you expect to read? So when I read, years thereafter, accounts of how Mr. Shatner didn’t always treat his fellow actors with a huge amount of respect, how he was just as concerned about the number of lines he had compared to other stars … how he wrote and directed Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, enough said … well, this young fan was a mite disillusioned. You were perfectly admirable, Admiral! What happened?

Real life, that’s what. Actors have egos. You couldn’t maybe discern some personality traits from listening to him deliver lines? The written version of those dramatic pauses has a name now. So now, I listen to Shatner interviews with a healthy grain of salt, and appreciate what there is to appreciate.

[] During the summer of 1998, I had all kinds of fun watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa duel for the title of Who Can Hit the Most Home Runs in a Season? Not only could they be counted on to deposit pitches in the outfield bleachers, seemingly at least once a night, they seemed to be genuinely likeable fellows who also, when their two teams met (and of course the Cardinals and the Cubs were in the same National League division, so they met often), the two of them seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Each seemed to push the other to greater heights, but the rivalry was friendly in a way that made me enjoy it that much more. They’re actually not being jerks to each other, while managing to hit homer after homer after homer. Back back back back back…

Gone. Three years ago, McGwire was interviewed on MLB Network and admitted, finally (after having pointedly not admitted it in a Congressional hearing years earlier), that he had used performance-enhancing drugs and human growth hormone treatments throughout his 16-year pro baseball career. (Sosa was accused of similar drug use, but only in years following 1998.)

It was not the first time such admissions had been made, or that such accusations had been denied. It was not exactly a “say it ain’t so, Joe” moment for me. But it was kinda disappointing anyway.

Not long after that, accusations were leveled at Major League Baseball regarding the manufacturing of the actual baseballs – a number of major-league pitchers and others charged that the baseballs were “juiced”, manufactured in such a way that they traveled farther when hit. Such accusations were denied by the league, and dismissed by the official baseball manufacturing companies themselves (although it might have been in their best interests to make such denials!). But it did plant the idea in many people’s heads, mine included, that while folks like McGwire and Sosa still had to actually react to pitches well enough to hit them, if it had been the 1970s or 1980s, a lot of outfielders might have been able to pad their defensive statistics, instead. And fly-ball outs just ain’t great theater.

So, now I still watch my beloved Red Sox; but if I want absolutely pure baseball, played for the sheer enjoyment of the game, and devoid of commercial and corporate interests, I go down to Cassidy Field, across from the reservoir near Boston College, and watch the Park League teams get after it.

Those are two of my moments.

 

A couple of years ago, I followed an online link to video of a cable-news interview with a Congressman from New York. The interviewer wasn’t terribly respectful to him – he’s a United States Congressman, for heaven’s sake, maybe just a little deference, please? Even the bulldog interviewers at BBC keep it polite when they hold politicians’ feet to the fire! – and, satisfyingly, this Congressman handed it right back to the interviewer, effectively and substantively and forcefully (and politely, but it was close) refusing to be interrupted into silence. As it happened, I agreed with his politics, but either way, the interview had not been close to an actual conversation, and I admired his willingness to hold the journalist’s feet to the fire, too.

That Congressman, nowadays no longer a Congressman, was Anthony Weiner. Who, in the last few weeks, has been, well, forgive me, but … has been revealed to be aptly named.

Here, apparently, was his plan, over the last several years: [1] Start out as a staunch advocate for progressive politics. Acquire many admirers. Fail to get your name on a whole lot of actual legislation, but never mind that now. [2] Get caught doing something “virtually” adulterous. (At this time, I shall avoid doing a pop-psychology analysis of someone who thinks it’s a good move to e-mail photos of his nethers to someone who, um, isn’t his wife. Or, for that matter, is.) [3] Apologize, go into therapy, resign from Congress (at the urging of the Speaker of the House, so that’s what you do). [4] Not too many years later, test to see whether your public image has been adequately scrubbed by running for mayor of one of the world’s largest cities. Then get caught having not actually stopped doing what got you electronically into trouble in the first place!

Back and forth, the internal monologue voices rage. But he’s a strong progressive voice! He’s also got problems. But those problems are strictly personal, not public! Not if he’s a public figure. And, more significantly, not if they reveal a tendency to make unwise (arguably narcissistic) decisions. But those problems don’t have anything to do with running the world’s largest city! Well, actually, they do if he ever wants to advocate, as mayor, for or against certain behaviors by using his Moral Force. That’s the name coined by Keith Olbermann (speaking of people whom one can admire and shake one’s head at simultaneously!) to denote the moral and ethical authority invoked by someone’s accumulated life experiences and behaviors. At a certain point, an Anthony Weiner-like politician may not have enough of a strong Moral Force remaining. Do as I say, not as I kinda did.

Disappointed!

 

Meanwhile, in slightly more current news than Anthony Weiner’s virtual life … the former child star and current actress and singer Raven-Symone has come out. A segment of the Twitterverse has essploded, although perhaps you may have missed the earth-shattering kaboom. A number of Twittering folks claim to have had their childhoods ruined, knowing now that they were watching and admiring a lesbian all that time. Gasp.

(A slight swerve away from this post’s main thrust, in order to offer a gentle suggestion to those Twitterers: when she joined the Cosby Show cast, she was FOUR years old, and you weren’t thinking about her in that way. I hope. And anyway, if that’s all it took to crush your childhood, in retrospect, by this slight change in what you know … what kind of a childhood was it really? How did you survive middle school?)

Some Moments of “…–Oh.” may have more to do with us than with the object of our disappointment.

Some don’t.

It’s worth being able to figure out which Moment is which.

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August 8, 2013 - Posted by | celebrity, civil rights, current events, entertainment, Famous Persons, media, news, politics, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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