why gay men should be more involved in sports (even if it’s only in advertising), or: notes on failed camp

April 9, 2010

Let us take a close look at the following monstrosity, shall we?

We begin with WFAN’s Craig Carton asking some standard spring training questions that actually did arise re: David Wright’s improved physique, to which Wright—as ever—woodenly responds as if he’s memorized from a pre-approved script, though this time that’s actually the case. He even gets his “uhhhhm” in! Very Method. With the phrase “situational training,” we get to the meat of the commercial: Rocky theme blaring as we see shots of Wright and “The Situation” (of MTV’s Jersey Shore fame, though I do not know his real name as I have not partook in this particular pop cultural phenomenon…is it Mike?) running, doing sit-ups, and various other standard athletic pursuits that quickly become absurd (Wright hitting The Situation’s abdomen with a baseball bat).

I was made aware of the ad’s existence during an interview with Wright on WFAN’s morning show with Carton and Boomer Esiason, wherein Carton promised that the ad would showcase “a side of David Wright you don’t get to see.” Clearly I hoped for an ass-shot or some semblance thereof, but obviously Carton meant something about Wright’s humor and goofiness. And certainly the commercial strives towards transcendent goof, what with the ridiculous presence of The Situation, and possibly could have reached it if not for one thing: David Wright yet again exhibits almost zero personality.

It’s a strange thing about Wright; for someone so young and talented, with a face holding immense charismatic potential, he always—at least when speaking—comes off as mildly dull and humorless. There is evidence that this isn’t the case; witness the great bubblegum-hat shenanigans of June 2007 (ah, a simpler, more innocent time). But generally, Wright does and says all the right things, and that’s why we, as a fanbase, love him. Not much of an actor though, which brings down what should have been a hilarious commercial—even if it had simply delved into some lazy homoerotic comedy, though there is a bit of gay panic in Wright’s eyes when The Situation is holding his leg, as well as in the stilted way they interact with each other, like gym buddies who haven’t yet seen each other in the showers—into something kind of embarrassing, especially when the end declares vitaminwater to be “comeback water.” Sheesh, from Coca-Cola’s money to the baseball gods’ ears.

Some good bits: their parallel slides, as well as Wright in a tanning booth. And the pairing does make some kind of perverse sense; with those eyebrows, hasn’t Wright always coded as a little bit guido? (In case you are tempted to say no, please recall the following photograph:

Homeboy looks like a white Bobby Cannavale up there.)

The ad would’ve been funnier if it had been played serious and straight; as it is, we all know it’s a joke and so the humor here already exists in quotes as opposed to being organic or surprising. To paraphrase Susan Sontag (who I’m sure is rolling around in her grave right about now), camp that knows it is camp is usually unsatisfying. See also: Lady Gaga.

The spot would’ve benefited from a better actor, surely. But hey, David Wright isn’t an actor. David Wright is a baseball player. A baseball player who will probably go down as the greatest one to ever play in a Met uniform. And that’s enough for me.

Other than him taking his shirt off for once, JEEZ.

For more (and better) thoughts on David Wright, please read this exceptional piece from Patrick Flood.

*

We’re always so optimistic on Opening Day, aren’t we? I guess I should thank MLB scheduling for having a day between games 1 and 2 of the season, so that the euphoria of the Mets 7-1 victory over the Marlins could last a little bit longer before the early reality of this team set in.

*

And now, a new blog segment I’m calling And Now, Time For A Lack of Tact (with Jerry Manuel), courtesy of Surfing The Mets:

Jose Reyes is at Citi Field and expected to address reporters in about an hour. Jerry Manuel was just asked if Reyes would be in the lineup tomorrow.

“Yes, unless he gets hit by a car or something,” Manuel said.

Yeah, that’s actually pretty funny and everything, but good grief, is Duaner Sanchez driving him?

*

Okay, see you in four months or whatever!

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just because

September 4, 2008

Earlier today the boy I’m seeing or whatever was comparing my love of the Mets to his love of America’s Next Top Model, of all things, a show I maybe have seen 10 minutes of total. I said that it didn’t seem the same considering he has contempt for the show’s participants. He emailed the following in response:

I don’t hate all of them. There are heroes and there are villains on every season, like every reality show, and the villains tend to be high-camp witches (Yankees), and the heroes tend to be unsophisticated but bright and likable (Cubs?), and the fun comes from putting vaguely ditzy girls in high-pressure situations (infield fly rule). There is fundamental injustice in Tyra Banks’ judging every week (bad ump), and it used to be that Janice Dickinson would say something hilarious and cruel at least three times a week (Marv Albert). She’s not on the show anymore.

Which is pretty good considering he knows nothing about baseball. I suppose the better analogies here would be “Eric Gagne” instead of “infield fly rule,” and since Marv Albert doesn’t do baseball, perhaps Joe Buck or Tim McCarver?


apropos of nothing

August 7, 2008

Time for a fashion critique!

Joe Smith: Nice color and design of t-shirt, although whatever that is (a ship?) is a bit, um, garish. And those jeans wouldn’t look out of place at, like, Union Pool or something. Lastly, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR LEFT ARM?@!?!?!?1

David Wright: Form-fitting t-shirts are always a plus, especially with a well-defined torso. The faux-retro faded letter bullshit is so frat boy, but I guess it’s a decent enough design with which to whore Nike. Your watch is ridiculous. And cargo shorts are a crime against humanity.

Carlos Muniz: What in the good name of fuck. That better be a psych-metal band, otherwise you have absolutely no excuse.


wait. seriously?

May 1, 2008

This isn’t a joke?

OH MY GOD. It’s like “Meet The Mets” getting fucked by Billy Joel on a bed of synthesizers.

I’ve listened to it like a dozen times already, at least. My favorite part is “We’ll go nuts for every curly W.” I kind of like that line, in the “it makes me think of pubes” kind of way.

On the Kinsey scale from Paul Newman to Liberace, I give this a Rufus Wainwright.

Hat tip to Why I Hate DC, and an excellent lyrical parsing is here.


OMG U GUYZ!!!!!1111one

March 10, 2008

LIKE GET A ROOM ‘N STUFF!

LOLZ!1!! LIKE TOTES BEST PALZ 4 EVA!!!!!111!!


what it’s like

March 7, 2008

Hey remember that Everlast song?…Yeah it was pretty bad. I kinda always liked it though. Gimme a break, I was a teenager.

I was thinking lately about this here blog. How I’d started it as some kind of personal mini-protest towards a homophobic situation I encountered while being around a bunch of sports dudes. How I thought it’d be a general kind of sports blog (before I suppose necessarily turning into a Mets blog, seeing as that’s my main interest/love) imbued with my own personal perspective, my own slant, one that would be necessarily “queer” but informed–that was the whole point, that I could prove the legitimacy of my fandom and interest in attempt to never have to prove it ever again. That the proof would be in the pudding, that it wasn’t just about the hot dudes (though forgive this old gender studies warrior for seeing the deliciousness in queering such a masculinist and homosocial world as athletics). The political act of it is muted I think, mainly because I try not to make it an Issue, but I feel like it’s always there when I say such-and-such is cute or when you see the damn header at the top that reads SMEAR THE QUEER. The fact that I chose that as the name isn’t an accident. I wanted to extract the embedded homophobia that exists in sports, ingrained since childhood, institutionalized to such an extent that those who happen to be gay in this world automatically know their place, and became damn good at hiding themselves. Smear The Queer. Every single time I see it, I value that text’s experiential rupture (cf. Julia Kristeva, ah I’m an old lit theorist as well! My perfect death is by library avalanche I think) in myself and hopefully whoever reads it.

But I have the good luck of not hiding. I have the good luck of being loudmouthed about it if I so dare. I have never been any good at sports, much to my chagrin. Always passable. I could run decent enough, I could always pull a single through a hole in the left side, I could tackle even though I was tiny, I had quick hands at the net and a stiff volley, I could find the open man but never hit the shot myself. But I never approached anything more than competence. I am not an athlete, nor will I ever be. There are athletes, though, that are gay, and live with that every day. How many of them are open? Are open during their career? I can name Martina Navratilova and Amelie Mauresmo. Then there’s the innuendo cast in the direction of the LPGA and WNBA. Sheryl Swoopes. Notice how they’re all women? Somehow it seems much more acceptable (though certainly not entirely; witness Martina Hingis’ early comment that Mauresmo was “half a man”) for women to be out in sports than men. Not sure why that is; possibly the stigma is already there for women in sport because of the masculinization of athletics itself. Which makes gay men in sport seem like a conundrum, a fluke, a perversion. Because gay men are fags and sissies and have no idea how to throw a ball. Gay men have no business in sport; they are only there to be smeared.

Think of the gay male pro athletes who have come out: Dave Kopay, Billy Bean, Esera Tuaolo, John Amaechi. All part of a team, all post-career. And every time it happens, someone exhorts, “Now if only someone could do that while still playing.” Yeah, in a perfect world, sure. But one has to understand the mindset of the vast majority of athletes to know how much of an impossibility it seems. For every Ben Cohen (the dude made a calendar and is hosting a party for his gay fans for Chrissake), there’s 50 (or more!) Tim Hardaways.

This isn’t about the aspect of coming out (an intensely personal decision and hell, it’s hard enough to do it in normal life) but the aspect of being in the closet. That there are gay athletes out there playing the games that they love–the games that we love–and we cheer them on and know nothing of the inner turmoil that they face. I have the luxury of openness; I may get a derogatory comment or vague threat of violence, but I’m not out there on that field or in that locker room, worrying that my teammates don’t support me. I’m up there in those stands, and more than anything else and for better or worse, up in those stands we have a shared collective experience that nulls our differences for those precious few hours. And if you don’t like me because of what goes on in my bed (which, ha! Nothing happens in my bed) then you can fuck right off. I have that luxury. Gay athletes do not. Imagine your livelihood–the thing you love most in the world, the thing that you’ve devoted your life to–being threatened by your sexual and romantic proclivities. It seems impossible, and yet these men (and women, though to a lesser extent because I do find an experiential difference here that really is inescapable from the idea of masculinity among men) face it every day.

Which is why I think that airing out that experience is valid and honorable. I’d been thinking about this for the past week or so, but it really came to a head when I stumbled onto this blog, which chronicles the day-to-day life of a closeted minor league baseball player who is currently a non-roster invite to a Major League squad. Not only do I always enjoy hearing about athletes’ lives, the grind of the job, how their day is structured, what they do for fun, etc., but the added aspect of this blog’s intrinsic struggle with sexuality and masculinity in a notoriously homophobic sphere makes for a fascinating read. For one, I’m grateful that this guy has an outlet; most people in his situation don’t. And by the sheer fact of expressing his thoughts and emotions, he validates and shares in the communal experience of those in his same boat. So much of being in the closet and struggling with sexuality (especially for the very young) is the sense that they’re all alone. The more people tell their stories, out of the closet or no, the better. It allows people to feel part of something larger, which is an important first step in engaging with yourself and the like-minded people around you instead of burrowing even further into isolation and possibly suicide, which is how so many of these stories end up.

A seemingly all-too-common and depressing experience for many gay athletes can be seen in the story of Greg Congdon:

But sometimes there’s hope and optimism and surprise in these stories, as evidenced by Corey Johnson:

Whether they’re typically upsetting like Congdon’s, uplifting like Johnson’s, or accepting but frustrated like Slugger‘s, these stories are important to hear because they showcase the struggles of gay athletes everywhere, validate the emotions of their counterparts, and possibly foster a sense of community even if in their “real lives” there’s a built-in sense of isolation. All they wanna do is play ball. All we wanna do is join in the experience.

I promise the next post will be full of dick jokes or something.


objectifying male athletes; or the male gays’ gaze

March 3, 2008

Fun stuff: King of the Hardwood, which is gonna do some kind of hottie March Madness thing. Baseball voting ends on Wednesday! D-Wright and Jose Jose Jose are in the running!