Thursday, May 16, 2002
Taking the "Bark" out of Barkley
Yes, many know him to be the "loveable" and outspoken NBA meathead (pun intended) who would rather put down and intimidate fellow olympians abroad then act the graceful diplomat, who would often curse out and give fans the royal "Sir Charles" finger out his deep respect for their ticket purchases and then trumpet the idea that "he's not a role model" all over national television, or as the Alabama gubernatorial hopeful, and most recently the black man who donned chains for a Sports Illustrated cover portraying him as a slave, but last night's TBS antics by Charles Barkley just may have taken the cake.
Responding to PETA's success in getting the NCAA to acknowledge that it should and will switch from real leather basketballs to the better-bouncing and animal-free "pleather" balls (the WNBA has already switched over), Barkley took the opportunity as a TBS commentator for the NBA playoffs to have a hamburger orgy on camera -- "This is what I think of PETA," he said. But he went further: "Animals are only good for two things: eating them and testing on them to make my life better!" Pleased with himself, he then uttered it a second time and then legitmated his behavior by appealing to McDonald's. "Look, they say they've got 60,000,000,000 served -- that many people can't be wrong!" TBS, in typical fashion, tried to distance itself from Barkley's tirade and highlight the moment with humor, cutting to a contrasting shot of Barkley with Wimpy (of Popeye) holding a hamburger. Not to be denied a potential Bush cabinet appointment as Secretary of the Interior, however, Barkley growled, "If I see any of those PETA people outside tonight, I'm gonna run 'em over like dogs with my truck." And the segment ended...thankfully.
Look, I don't mean to come down on Barkley -- what he thinks or does or says is not going to make or break the social justice movement. But, deny it though he may, he is a role model and what he says counts and must be held accountable. He cannot just shrug off the effects of his actions, like his good friend Michael Jordan did in denying that his own relationship to NIKE (and their many third-world sweatshops) was political -- "I'm just the product," said MJ, "they tell me what to say and I say it to get paid." Or maybe he can, why? Because no one is willing to hold the NBA and its related media accomplices accountable for being politically regressive! What must Jimmy the Greek have been thinking as he watched Charles cross every line of good taste -- if Barkley can explain why animals and leftists should be run over why couldn't the Greek talk about the black body? Or how about John Rocker, the pitcher whom a few years back blasted every possible minority group imaginable with venemous hate-speech, I bet he's calling TBS for his own comedy hour right now!
Please join me in sending a question to TBS asking when they will take responsibility for this right-wing reactionary nonsense and force Barkley to apologize to the public-at-large and the animals he craves...