Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brain Droppings: The Cult of Celebrity, Part II

First, I have to admit that I have little, if ANY, interest in NASCAR racing. In fact, I have virtually no interesting in auto racing of any kind. Going around in circles is something that I get accused of doing far too frequently by my wife, among many others, anyway (LOL). Therefore, watching it on television has no allure for me. Still, you'd have to live pretty much in total isolation to not know that one of the most important and famous races on the NASCAR circuit, The Daytona 500, took place last night. It was already historically delayed by bad weather that still plagued the race last night, as well. So, it was already a big story. After a number of spectacular, weather related crashes the race was eventually won by Matt Kenseth. Kenseth won the race for the 2nd time and became one of only 8 others to have accomplished that feat.

As is my custom in the morning, I usually tune in the local news and catch up while having the morning cup'o'jo. I get the headlines, traffic, weather, and sports. Well, this morning, the sports anchor led her report with the story of the Daytona 500. She started correctly(IMHO) by describing the foul weather for the race and what effect it must have had on the drivers. This is the customary "overview" before getting into the specifics of the story. Then, inexplicably to me, she said that Danica Patrick finished in 38th place - before she announced the HISTORIC win by Kenseth!! WTF?!

Look, I get it. Danica Partick is a fan magnet. Her presence on the track means increased viewership, attendance, and, therefore, revenue. AND she's a competitive racer. It that sense, it's all good. However, she finished 38th! 30-freakin'-8th!!! Now, because of her importance to the sport, she is ALWAYS newsworthy and, therefore, deserves mention somewhere within the report. However, to report her 38th place finish before announcing the winner is just plain WRONG!! Once again, the anchor (and the writers) were pandering to the CULT OF CELEBRITY. Let's face it, despite Kenseth's remarkable record, more people (especially those out of the NASCAR circuit) are more familiar with Danica Patrick than they are with he. Why? Because she's more than just a driver: she's a CELEBRITY!

Danica Patrick is a celebrity for a number of reasons: she cultivates that image. The sport cultivates that image. And the media cultivates that image. It's all part of this Great Big Machine that spits out instant heroes as quickly as you can write a Twitter Tweet!! And it's wrong. I'm not really knocking Danica Patrick. She seems to have some chops as a racer and she's never been false about using her femininity and image to move her career forward. Why shouldn't she? But we need to keep things in perspective. Professional sports are about winning. And to the VICTOR should go the spoils.


  1. Dude, I realize you're not a fan. But I know these people personally, and I think the media spun the story. Danika is an amazing person, with amazing talent. And you would like her! People who don't get into racing seldom have good things to say about the sport. Love ya like a brother, but I think if you knew them like I do, you would have a very different opinion! The talent required to drive 200mph, and think by the 1/100 of a second is a talent the we only wish we could have. Enjoy the blog, have a nice day!

  2. Your comments are most welcome, Mark! I was hoping that my entry would not necessarily paint Ms. Patrick in a poor light. As I said in the body of the article, she is a driver with talent and can't be blamed for making the most of her popularity. It's more the machine that creates larger than life characters for its own sake that gets me. Let the winners be lauded and let the hype be left behind.