Monday, February 02, 2009

Michael Phelps throws it all away

I had to laugh at the photo of Olympic swimming phenom Michael Phelps smoking marijuana through a bong. Not that glorifying the drug culture is ever any reason for humor, but it blew me away that one person could be so unbelievably dumb.

(Oops, forgot about Cheech and Chong for a second. Won't happen again. There...let's continue...)

Thanks largely to his prowess in the pool - what, you thought he designed particle accelerators, too? - he's become a can't miss pitchman, a tour-de-force brand that can easily be sold to the highest bidder, even in a down economy.

That this simple fact didn't cross his mind BEFORE he danced with MJ is absolutely beyond me. His "apology" mentioned that he's 23 years old, as if his relative youth should somehow provide a baseline of justification. Thanks, Michael, for painting your entire generation with the same idiot brush.

It's amusing how many folks forget the simple truth that in the age of the Internet, you're only a camera click away from notoriety. When your net worth is based on an eight-figure brand that can evaporate at the first sniff of impropriety, such forgetfulness is almost unbelievable to working shleps like you and me.

In a perverse way, it's almost gratifying to see someone toss it away with so little thought. It gives someone else - possibly someone more worthy - a crack at the brass ring.

Your turn: What say you about America's tarnished golden boy?

27 comments:

kenju said...

In my opinion, when someone like Michael does what he did in the Olympics, they set themselves up as role models for young people today and in the future (even if they don't want to be considered as a role model). For him to disregard his responsibilities in regards to children is almost totally unforgivable. As far as endorsements go, he has probably made it necessary for most of those companies (if not all) to drop him as a spokesman. How sad that he would be so immature and stupid as to throw it all away. I feel sorry for his mom.

Wordnerd said...

Incredibly disappointed. I can remember those days vividly, glued to the tv set, watching him break yet another record with Mom proudly looking on.

What an idiot.

Tara said...

He put himself out there as a role model for young people; yet in the face of crisis brushed it off as a stupid mistake. He could have used the incident as a tool to talk to young people about making mistakes, weed and the consequences of his actions. Instead he chose the easy way out and to me that knocks him off the American boy pedestal.

CK Lunchbox said...

Although I agree it was a dumb thing to do, it's hard to imagine what it is like to be that young while being so visible. In that light, I would have to give the guy some slack. Still, actions have consequences and the greater the audience, the greater the scrutiny. At the same time, the more imperfect the celebrity, the more forgiving audiences seem to be if they make a sincere effort to reform. Case in point, Britney Spears.

My point is for someone of Phelps' sterling stature, a moment of impertinence may hang heavy while a slip by Britney would still carry the reminder of her attempts at recovery.

I still like the kid.

me said...

If there was a photo of him drunk, holding a beer/whisky bottle, groping a woman would anyone have even noticed?

While I agree that he is a role model, he is young. Perhaps he will choose his friends more carefully. As who ever took the photo was no friend.

Just because you are instantly famous doesn't mean you get instant smarts. Maybe this will wake kids up to the fact that the photos they are sharing on the web, could come back to bite them.

I disagree kenju that what he has done is almost unforgivable. He has the perfect chance to show kids that 1)you can make a mistake and learn from it 2)Your mom and dad will love you no matter what (even if you do something stupid).

Pamela said...

Having unbelievable abilities and goals that seemed unattainable met.. doesn't give someone the same strength in judgment.

By my standards he is still young and because of the amount of time he spent in training, likely lacks the same social understanding many of his peers have about the world.

His mom is on my heart, too.

Star said...

While I agree it is not a moment of excellent judgement, I am more disturbed by the mindset of the person who put it on the internet. I could understand if they had sold it to a fan mag. Tta would be greed. But barring that it seemd motivated by meanness or jealousy. He still won 8 gold medals. He stil perfected his craft. A slip here and there makes him more human. And possibly kids who are not themselves perfect will see that they too can achieve great things. THe news is celebrating the guy in the Super Bowl who made a 00 yard return even though he admits to selling drugs on the street before NFL fame.

Bernie said...

I can put it down to a single word...

FOOL

Nothing more needs to be said really...

Steph said...

Oh I still like the kid too. I think back to being 23 and it scares me. And while I think that with his "brand" comes certain responsibilities - because I do agree that he has a responsibility to today's youth - he's such a kid himself that he probably foolishly ignored the team of publicists who have already laid down the ground rules for a public persona.
I think the bottom line is this...whether or not he thought of all the young people looking up to him, could he not have at least considered his own future, his own endorsements, his own reputation?
Yeah, he was stupid.

kenju said...

Yes, he has the chance to show that he can learn from his mistakes, but to do that - you don't start by excusing yourself because you are "only" 23. I hope he does learn from this mistake and I hope he is able to show that he has taken it to heart.

Ms Mac said...

Is it a cry for help? Is he over all of this? Or is he just an eejit?

My money's on the eejit.

Terri said...

Oh good grief. Smoking some marijuana just isn't that big of a deal.

It's such a mixed message, when beer ads are all over the place in sporting events - and far more damage has been done by alcohol than by marijuana. Give the guy a break.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

I snickered ...

BYE BYE cash cow.

He deserves.

The apology was a joke. You do not apologize by making excuses.

I try so very hard to make my girls accountable for everything they do and a simple apology doesn't cut it sometimes. Sometimes there has to be more effort, and sometimes no matter what you do, there will be punishment. PERIOD.

Daryl said...

Not thinking about how that photo can change your life is typical of many 20somethings. If they thought things through likely they'd not inhale.

I am not sure he's totally thrown all the endorsements away .. only those with morals clauses ... and given the shortness of memory of the majority of people in this country toward those in the public eye I think he still has a chance ...

Thumper said...

Honestly, I think it's a whole lot of nothing. So the kid hit a bong, like hundreds of thousands of other kids his age. No one would have blinked if he'd had a beer in hand instead. I don't buy the whole deal that he needs to be held to higher standards because he's a role model; he's an athlete and a pitchman, and any parent with half a brain can figure out a way to spin this positively for their kids who look up to him. And I honestly don't think he's blown his endorsement deals out of the water.

For me, this rates a "eh, whatever" shrug on the grand scale of Big Deals.

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

He toked up. Deal with it. Move on, America. No one is perfect, no one should be held to these ridiculous standards we hold public figures. There is no Superman. There isn't even a Batman, with all his flaws and humanity. There's just us, imperfect.

Tabitha in Bliss said...

Reportedly, his sponsors are standing behind him. I can not judge this young guy. His decision was indeed a bad one and his age is of no excuse, but he is after all a human being.

TC said...

I feel bad for him.

You can claim it was an excuse, but the bottom line is that almost all college-age kids have tried pot or worse. He is young and he did make a mistake. It's going to cost him more than other people, for sure.

But remember that he didn't ask to be considered a role model. He just wanted to be the world's best swimmer. And he is that.

Actors and actresses get drunk driving tickets and drug possession charges all the time... it's not right, but they get off a heck of a lot easier than Phelps is too, and that's not right either.

Terri said...

President Obama did some drugs in his younger days. Doesn't seem to have hurt his chances!

Anonymous said...

When the clock rang the end of his fifteen minutes of fame, did it go- Bong....Bong....?

Cheech Marin
Thomas Chong

photowannabe said...

My very first words when I read bout the Golden Boy were How can someone be so dumb!! 23 is no excuse. Doesn't anyone take responsibility for their own actions? Dumb and Dumber!!

Cloudia said...

". . . almost unbelievable to working shleps like you and me."
Carmi, the entire news program could wear this caption!

I must agree with Terri.
MJ has been demonized as a useful tool of control against minorities and youth, a stupid Phelps move Indeed! A crime? Eh, If you have young kids I guess. But then it's an opportunity to talk with your kids about drugs and alchohol. I'm personally much more worried about pharmaceutical abuse by our entire culture. Sorry for getting radical, but there are much bigger issues to get upset about . . .now back to my normal neutrality . . . Aloha!

Sarch said...

Carmi, maybe you shouldn't use the word "crack" in this situation :) Just kidding.....a good post and well put my friend.

stefan said...

No kenju. When someone like Michael Phelps does what he did in the Olympics, WE set him up to be a role model, plain and simple.

I agree with Terri and Cloudia when it comes to the rap pot receives. Ugh. Apparently, the only safe place for Phelps to hit a bong is in his own basement, by himself, with the lights out and the blinds drawn and the cell phones off. But then of course he has a problem.

No doubt Bob Costas et al will turn this into a sappy public interest story when London 2012 rolls around... The troubled party boy, can he reclaim his former glory, can he overcome his demons?

But by that point, the pot will be long gone from his system, because he will have been training for the last two years. Because that's what he does. He's a swimmer, and all the ancillary nonsense--magazine covers, cereal box smiles, McDonalds pitches, and late-night parties--won't matter to the guy one bit. And WE, with our goldfish memories, will still idolize him because that's what WE do.

Awareness said...

I thought he was a doofus then...he's a bigger doofus now. It blows my mind how we put these people up on a pedestals. Whenever i've heard the guy speak it sounded like he had a mouthful of marbles and a soggy brain. why would anyone want him as a spokesperson? Because he can swim?

maybe he didn't inhale?? doh!

Mel Fraase said...

It's too bad he wasn't thinking a little more clearly, obviously he couldn't do that AFTER (ha ha ha).
He's always tested clean at his events, so what if he's a typical idiot out of the pool...I agree that he should probably lose his endorsements. Not really role model behavior, but if he can swim the way he does doped up, he should get an extra award :)
Mostly I think its sad when kids like this make one stupid mistake and it costs them almost everything. He'll probably make out just fine.

Snaggle Tooth said...

He could have claimed he was just "really good at holding my breath"

Some may view him as a cool dude, but the image- is gone-zo baby!