Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stars behaving badly

In case you haven't heard by now, my beloved Roger Federer was defeated by Juan Martin Del Potro in the US Open final. Don't worry, I'm ok (albeit a wee lightheaded from having gotten up at 5AM to catch the live telecast of the match). I'm not upset Roge lost, Del Po was definitely the better player and deserved his first Grand Slam title. It was also sweet the way the gangly, gigantic Argentine clambered up to his sparsely occupied box to hug his coach and 2 unidentified supporters (vis a vis Federer's packed box populated by family and celeb friends-- hello Gavin and Gwen!), and even more touching when the 20-year-old choked up after acknowledging his absent parents in his native tongue (BTW that emcee was a total a-hole for refusing Del Po's first request to say something in Spanish).

I AM disappointed The Mighty Fed was not his usual mighty self and did not show off the magic we've come to expect of The Swiss Maestro, but I'm glad he didn't seem too broken up about losing to the younger, less experienced Del Potro. I loved how he gave his opponent props: "I would like to congratulate Juan Martin on an unbelievable tournament. I had a great one, but he was the best." And I loved even more what Del Po said in return: "When I would have a dream, it was to win the US Open, and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done. [addressing Federer] I need to improve a lot to be like you. I'd like to congratulate you for fighting 'til the last point." Gracious in defeat, gracious in victory. Good job, gentlemen.

It's nice to see some courtesy on court after the now infamous incident involving Serena Williams that took place a couple of days ago during her US Open semis match against Kim Clijsters. The younger Williams sister blew up at a lineswoman who called a foot fault while she was serving, 2 points away from losing the match to Clijsters. Serena stomped over to get in the lineswoman's face, and reportedly screamed profanities and even a death threat ("I will kill you! You're lucky I don't shove this ball down your f*cking throat!"), which prompted the chair umpire to slap a point penalty on her for unsportsmanlike conduct, effectively costing her the match. It was a very ugly way to bow out of the tournament, and reactions to Serena's hissy fit,
if the blog posts and tweets about it are any indication, have been mostly negative and censuring, and rightly so.

What was in the water at Flushing Meadows this year? It seemed we saw more than our fair share of diva antics and temper tantrums (paging Andy Murray). Even Roger Federer, the king of composure himself, lost his cool during his match against Del Potro, although it was to bitch at the incompetent chair umpire, who sucked at both controlling the rowdy crowd and handling challenges by the players. When Federer complained to him about accommodating a late challange from Del Potro, he told Roger to be quiet, to which RF snapped, "Don't tell me to be quiet, ok. When I want to talk, I talk. I don't give a shit what you say." Perhaps that was a bit much, but it actually shut up the useless umpire. Besides, I found this uncharacteristic flash of temper quite hot. Hehe.

Ok, so there's simply no excuse for foul language or violent outbursts, even from-- nay, especially from tennis superstars, whom many young people look up to. But what about outright boorish behavior from popular recording artists? Yup, I'm talking about Kanye West, a.k.a. the biggest prima donna douchebag on the planet, outdid himself this time by creating the most awful scene at the MTV Video Music Awards when he actually WENT ON STAGE to interrupt Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video, and declared that he thought Beyonce should have won instead. Poor Taylor Swift was stunned into silence and couldn't finish her speech, and the audience erupted in boos for the unbelievably obnoxious hiphop star.

Later in the show, Beyonce, in a classy move that would make Sasha Fierce proud, attempted to make amends by cutting short her own shoutout time and giving Taylor Swift the chance to finish her rudely truncated speech. The difference between that gesture and the horrid stunt Kanye pulled is so vast, we'd have to catapault Kanye to Timbuktu to approximate how far apart they are (and I wish we COULD get rid of the SOB so easily!).

People like Kanye not only deserve to be stripped of the privileges and recognition that come with fame and fortune, but they should be tarred and feathered for abusing them. It's reassuring though that the general uproar and backlash over the VMA incident convey a collective condemnation of Kanye. It gives me a shred of hope to hang on to, that society has not degraded to a point where the faults of its idols-- from entertainment or sports-- are forgiven too easily. When we refuse to let them get away with it, we obligate them to earn our respect and admiration, and conduct themselves in a manner worthy of hero worship. After all, we're the ones who put them on a pedestal, so we can bring them down if we want to, when we have to.


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