Thoughts on the Zeitgeist: Patriots Ravens, Obama in Paris & the Pope in Diapers
Posted on January 13, 2015
Today I’m beginning a new series called “My Thoughts on the Zeitgeist.” Let me explain. In my role as creative director at Circa Interactive, I have to stay on top of the media to create content that taps into larger trends. I have to remain cognizant of the broader narratives for journalism. I have to understand what’s ahead and building to a boiling point in order to create timely blog content. And I have to continue to find ways to keep my creative pieces relevant by following the world as closely as possible. At work, when we’re in that moment, in the spirit of the times, we call this tapping into the zeitgeist. So I’m always reading the news, and I figured I could use this strategy a bit more for my blog posts. I decided to start a series on my blog that examines a few stories in the media (sports, culture, law, finance, marketing, SEO, literature, etc) and comment on them. Simple as that. This will be the first week.
1. “Bipolar Wackos” in the NFL Playoffs
As you may know, I’m a huge Patriots fan. Tom Brady is a superstar that was once an underdog. I find the team inspiring, and in terms of digital media, the Patriots website is one of the leaders in advancing content marketing and sports business. Like most people, I was absorbed in the playoff game between the Ravens and the Patriots, and I must have read every single article on Twitter about the game and the strange formations.
While I was going trough my twitter feed this morning, a story on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s coverage that caught my attention. It was about a fight between Steve Smith, current Ravens wide receiver, and Jermaine Wiggins, former New England Patriot tight end who became a legend in the tuck-rule game. The big story was that Steve Smith approached Wiggins after the game to let him know that he was upset over being called a bully. Sure, this sounds like two middle schoolers fighting in the parking lot after a baseball game, but it’s sports. So I’m not expecting a conversation analyzing the plot of “American Beauty.”
Scott Zolak, a former Patriot who interviews Belichick on the Bellestrator (the hoodie breaks down film of previous games, and it’s incredible), starts to give a play-by-play of the incident. I’m listening and intrigued, but then he says this: “Steve Smith is a diminutive guy. He’s about as big as Bob Socci. Everything we talked about last week with Suggs being the nut job, the bipolar wacko…”
That’s when I stopped. Did he just say bipolar wacko? A journalist, a commentator, a respected professional in the media really just used bipolar wacko, the nut job, on the radio? Honestly, this comment shows ignorance on the part of Scott Zolak, and it’s a nuisance for anyone who has ever lived with someone with bipolar disorder. If you have needed to help someone who has bipolar, you know how difficult it can be show them that they have an illness, because it’s such a stigma, especially in their own mind. The illness is still viewed as a failure, and people with mental illness have enough problems in the world than to have ridiculous stereotypes and ignorance being shared on the radio.
Okay, I know what you’re saying. I’m being the PC police. Learn to chill out. Take a joke. Well, Scott Zolak is not a comedian. This is a normal conversation on sports radio, and a journalist is using such an ignorant and lazy description to describe one of the most unique characters in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong here, I still have a lot of respect for Scott Zolak and think he’s a great commentator, but I just wish people took more care for how they used the word bipolar and developed a better understanding of the nuances and complications of mental illness. Perhaps Zolak actually does. If so, I wish he would have shown it.
2. Obama Didn’t Show Up in Paris. So?
The terrorist attacks in Paris were atrocious. Je Suis Charlie. C’est vrai. The protection of freedom of speech is essential. I believe America clearly stands with Paris in terms of finances, policy, and security issues.
But Obama is taking a lot of heat for not being in Paris to join 1.5 million people, including many important global leaders, who marched down the Boulevard Voltaire on Sunday in a show of unity against extremism. We sent Eric Holder instead, and the world is insulted that Obama or Biden didn’t show up in person.
The White House has since acknowledged that they should have sent a higher ranking official. I just think this criticism is really unfair. Think about it: For one moment German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, French President François Hollande and other European and African leaders were in one spot. They were standing together. Yes, it was a great message sent to the terrorists that we were not scared, that we were not bothered by their terror tactics, that we would stand up to extremism everywhere we find it, but it was also like putting a target on the back of every one of those leaders and inviting an opportunity for disaster. In one awful moment, the world could have lost some of its best leaders.
Yes, I get it. That’s the point. Show them we’re not scared. I love the idea. It was a momentous occasion that will definitely go down in the history books, but should Obama ignore his intel? Should Obama ignore the threat? Should he wave the middle finger in front of killers and dare them to kiss his ass?
We were there. Obama was there. I am there. Anyone who believes in human rights was there. I don’t doubt that about Obama. I just believe his staff made a decision they thought was right based on the information they had.
I mean, look what Ted Cruz wrote: “The absence is symbolic of the lack of American leadership on the world stage, and it is dangerous. The attack on Paris, just like previous assaults on Israel and other allies, is an attack on our shared values.”
3. Now Time for Something Funny
Pope Francis is kind of rock star. He’s seen as a man of the people, and he rides buses and drives old cars instead of going for a spin in a fancy pope mobile. ABC News even reported that he sneaks out of the vatican in tattered clothes as a disguise to treat the homeless and sick. He sounds like a hell of a guy, honestly, and I’m not religious at all.
What’s fascinating about Pope Francis this week is that he’s due to visit the Philippines. When the Pope shows up in Manila, he’s expected to draw an enormous crowd that will put security and facilities at capacity. This is forcing many people in Manila to, well, flip a shit.
“About 2,000 traffic enforcers who will be on duty during the Jan. 15-19 papal visit will be required to wear adult diapers, said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino,” reports the AP.
That’s 2,000 government officials in diapers. When I see images of that crowd all I’ll be able to think about is 2,000 people potentially pooping in their pants. It’s not just traffic enforcers either. The people attending the event are also encouraged to wear diapers.
Well, that’s it for my thoughts on the media this week. I’ll probably try this again. Finally, I wanted to leave you with something Aziz Ansari recently tweeted at Ruport Murdoch.
.@rupertmurdoch, you’re already a vaguely evil media conglomerate guy and THEN you’re ALSO racist? FOR REAL?! You’re an evil overachiever!
— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) January 12, 2015