Monday, February 02, 2009

The Huffington Post reports that Michael Phelps has issued a statement of apology for smoking marijuana from a bong at a party recently and it goes like this:

"I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again."

It’s almost as though this is just some scripted routine designed by some PR executives to keep Michael Phelps in the news. I mean, the statement is almost a fill in the blanks paragraph churned out by a computer that specialises in American cultural and moral crises management. He had started to fade out a bit and the narrative arc of something like this is probably going to be helpful for Phelps in the long run anyway. He comes out with a statement where the underlying tone is that he never really did anything bad but that he’s sorry, everyone is upset for three minutes until he apologises and makes some public gesture that illustrates his intolerance of drug abuse and then the American public forgives him.

The American public is sort of like a gang of insecure teenagers in that respect. They love to turn someone into a demagogue and then tears them down almost arbitrarily based on absurd moral outrage and then, after they’ve publically flogged them for a while, the demagogue is allowed to come back but this time with kind of performative humility. It’s like American enjoys being dominated by something until it doesn’t enjoy it and then it changes its mind again. Just like a spoilt child.

Meanwhile, Michael Phelps is standing in the middle of the hurricane having more or less done nothing at all and just has to weather it with the help of some PR consultants who know how this works because it’s always the same.

Strangely enough, Phelps hasn’t been approached by Paris Hilton yet and that’s interesting. I always thought that would happen and then a zeitgeist baby would be born. Or at least a massive explosion of celebrity plasma would spray all over everyone and that would tide us over as the Obama flame dies down. [source]


Evan said...

I'm having this episode-induced recollection, of way back when I was 15... we were doing bong hits in someone's skanky roadhouse shack by a lake, and there was this one old dude smoking with us, who was maybe 23. A real loser. I don't think the youthful excuse would have worked for him, but then he didn't waste his teenage years paddling around all day either.

Alan Baxter said...

I'd be more disappointed in him if he DIDN'T have a bong once in a while. He's 23 - live it up.