There’s an old Chappelle’s Show skit about the Player Haters Ball – a group of pimp-like men who excel at talking trash in the most hilarious of ways. The ball was actually an awards banquet, and instead of applauding for award nominations (such as Player Hater of the year), people would chant, “Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate!” Hating on people was awarded in this forum, as well it should have been – the “I’ve got to go put some water in Bucknasty’s mother’s dish” line still cracks me up. But unfortunately, the real world has dipped into when player hating goes too far.
This morning, I was doing my YouTube news updates (because the news in Memphis either bores me to death or tells me about too many deaths) and I ran across a Rachel Maddow segment from earlier this week and another segment featuring former Gov. of Vermont Howard Dean on the Last Word from the past couple of months. I’d also seen a column on CNN.com by LZ Granderson about this particular issue, but hearing it and seeing it helped to solidify it.
People root hard for the good guy, but they root even harder against the bad guy.
It’s the reason the Miami Heat were hated/loved/vilified/praised/held to an impossible standard/fairly judged by that standard two seasons ago. It’s the reason the Darth Vader-esque Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are hated by everybody that’s not in New England. It’s the reason that many fan-based sports narratives exist and continue to – as much as I wanted the Ravens to win the Super Bowl because I’m a fan of Ray Lewis (sidebar below on the appreciation of Ray-Ray), I also HAD to root against the 49ers as a division foe of my St. Louis Rams. As hard as I was pulling for the Ravens, I was pulling harder for a 49ers loss than a Ravens win. Likewise with how I (and most St. Louis sports fans following the ’01 NFL season and the ’04 MLB season) root hard against the Patriots and Boston sports teams in general. It’s just preferable to see them lose, and reasons for that will vary, but if I’m subjected to a Jim Nantz/Phil Simms snoozefest of commentary sandwiched between a lovefest for Tom Brady against the hapless Miami Dolphins, then eventually I just want to see the Dolphins beat the shit out of the Patriots for the good of all involved (Nantz/Simms have to do actual commentary on the game, not just the Patriots, for example). I hate on the Patriots, and it’s admitted. It’s still irrational, (it’s been 12 years since the Super Bowl and the Cardinals have two World Titles since that loss) but it’s still just part of my normal modus operandi. It’s not with much vitriol, mostly in jest, but I can’t help but enjoy when the bad guy in my world loses.
SIDEBAR: Ray Lewis was involved in a double murder situation 13 years ago during the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Terrible as that situation was, Lewis pled down to obstruction of justice and turned his entire image around to the point that nobody talked about his double murder situation except for one mention by Terrell Owens in the mid-2000’s trying to paint the picture that he (T.O.) had been unfairly portrayed as a bad person by the media. Nevertheless, another football player, Leonard Little from the St. Louis Rams, did kill someone while driving under the influence (BAC of .19) and didn’t serve a day (convicted of manslaughter with 4 years probation and 1,000 hours of community service) in 1998. Little quietly retired 2 years ago and nobody brought it up. Donte Stallworth killed a man on camera driving under the influence a few years back (and came back to play with the Patriots later after serving 30 days for DUI Manslaughter) and Josh Brent killed Jerry Brown drunk driving this season. We don’t even know if Ray actually killed anybody. More importantly, he did what Michael Vick and T.I. have been after since their first major stints in trouble – a successful turnaround in his public persona from wild-eyed bad boy from the U to the Godfather of the NFL. Big ups to #52 getting to go out like John Elway and Jerome Bettis.
Skeet. Skeet. Skeet.
So what does this have to do with President Obama? Well, the White House released a picture of the President skeet shooting. First of all, if you didn’t crack a smile when seeing that headline somewhere about the President skeet shooting, then we either have a generational gap or you just don’t have even a sliver of a sense of humor. More importantly though, Obama has made an appeal to the mass, minority group of Americans that simply hate Obama for not being more like them, in some manner or another. Granderson’s piece makes this point, and I think rightly so – when he was challenged on his birthplace, which obviously had to be in America otherwise he isn’t qualified to be President, he deferred on the topic until he actually produced his birth certificate…while already President. So of course, it could be a fake birth certificate, created after the election to hide his real birthplace (presumably somewhere in Africa, but because this mass minority group of haters doesn’t want to appear racist, they just say “not in America”). Now it’s the gun control issue – even though he’s being charged with taking away the 2nd Amendment, which is as American as apple pie
and racism, he still reaches out to show people that he’s not anti-guns, he’s a skeet shooter for fun like everybody else. And of course, since it’s after the fact, the picture has been called a fake. He just can’t win because he’s not American enough, and that’s to be expected, unfortunately. Barack Hussein Obama, on name alone, will get more side-eyes and raised eyebrows than George Herbert Walker Bush, because one sounds and looks distinctively foreign and the other looks more like what’s down the street. He doesn’t look American: what with all of that brown person swag he has, he looks like he’s from somewhere else and isn’t supposed to run this country. Mind you, this is after he gave McCain/Palin a historic election night ass whooping and after he delivered a Rock Bottom to Romney/Ryan (back-to-back popular vote wins). Obama continually tries to prove that he’s the People’s President to a group of people that aren’t willing to give him that claim, and they more than likely never will. He’s the bad guy in their story – it wasn’t always so much that they loved Romney, it was that they hated Obama. They hate what he stands for, his policies, and they think he changes everything they hold dear about America. Anybody who’s NOT doing those things or is willing to stand up to their bad guy is a good guy. Good guys and bad guys might be simplistic terms, but they reflect the general feeling you get from people when you hear about President Obama. The reactions aren’t always measured like you see on TV, but just gut, visceral reactions ranging from, “Extremely glad to have him as President” (regardless of policy record) to the social media hate seen on Election Night that had many Black voters even more encouraged to vote. Why? Because this was how they could support their good guy in this particular instance, and more importantly stick it to their bad guy and shut his fans up (“their” here refers to the group of African-Americans who voted for Obama, roughly 93% of Black votes). In a very unique way, hate on Obama (which should just be a hashtag to any inflammatory remarks made about the POTUS, #hateonObama) reminds me of how good guys and bad guys can change in the world of wrestling. It has to be the only hope Obama has as to how to get the haters to cheer you.
Shawn Michaels was the bad guy of the WWF in the mid-90’s. Not only was he one of, if not, the best performers the business had, he was also an incredible antagonist. He was the guy you loved to hate – knew he was good, could back it up, and would rub your face in it. He was booed, especially through 97–98 as he became the top bad guy in the company. But he was so good, he would still win, even as a bad guy. Getting his comeuppance didn’t happen until a rocket called Stone Cold Steve Austin launched. (One could adjust this story for the ’10-’11 Miami Heat.)
Shawn Michaels took a 4 year hiatus and came back as the best good guy in the 2000’s. From 2002 until he retired in 2010, Michaels was not the just a good guy but THE good guy in terms of wrestling. He played the role of the Wily Vet, not afraid of using some tricks to stay ahead but still plenty talented to get the job done. Nobody booed Michaels for nearly a decade in his Hall of Fame career. (Heat get through their booed period to become dominant on path to title.)
President Obama, if he’s really trying to appeal to the mass minority of haters, has to be doing so with the hope that how the public receives him changes like it did for Shawn. Because facts don’t persuade this minority – he’s the bad guy, so of course these aren’t reputable, trustworthy facts. Not like it wouldn’t be because the U.S. Government has a history of being effective at giving untrustworthy information. Why Shawn was the bad guy was for a number of reasons – jealous of wanting to be like him, his brash arrogance, his cockiness, and his lack of humility come to mind as a few. Why Obama’s the bad guy ranges in reasons from he’s not an American, to he’s not a Christian, to he’s trying to repeal the Constitution, to he’s Black. So anything that the bad guy says won’t be trusted and he’s already the bad guy for reasons that aren’t all necessarily under his control. So you can’t actually out-logic these people; they already assume you’ve made a fallacy.
To the people that hate President Obama, the rest of the country is cheering on a bad guy like he’s a good guy and it’s confusing to their sense of good and bad (in the sense of “good and bad guy”). More than that, you can’t rationalize with hate – you can’t shake me of hating the Patriots (however tongue-in-cheek or real the hating is), just like you can’t convince a guy in Montreal in November 1997 that Shawn isn’t a terrible bastard, just like you can’t get the mass minority of Obama haters (the MMOH) to GET that Obama’s not the bad guy. Unfortunately for President Obama, Shawn Michaels broke his back in the line of duty and came back (albeit, 4 years later) for him to get the nod as a good guy by the public. So perhaps the POTUS will be a good guy to the MMOH after he’s President and somebody else gets all the vitriol.
Good guys win in wrestling eventually. Bad guys win in wrestling at some point. But ultimately, the good guy always wins. That’s the way the story is told. So the MMOH is just stuck in a period where their bad guy is champion. The good news for them is that in 4 years, Obama won’t be their bad guy anymore and their good guy will get a chance to take the title. The good news for the rest of the us who don’t throw unnecessary shade the President’s way? We’re guaranteed another 3 years with a good guy at the helm.