Thursday, January 31, 2013

Royce White will not be put in a box

Here's a thing that happens. Public figure says something entirely accurate that offends the wrong person or group, maybe something trivial, maybe not. Maybe it's Wes Welker's wife pointing out that Ray Lewis is a bit murdery, maybe it's Jon Stewart calling Harry Truman a war criminal. Flak ensues. Public figure caves under pressure, issues retractions and apologies, bows down before the king and kisses his feet. 

Not my new favorite athlete, Royce White, here being a badass:

RW: It's no secret that 2 percent of the human population controls all the wealth and the resources, and the other 98 percent struggle their whole life to try and attain it. Right? And what ends up happening is that the 2 percent leave the 98 percent to struggle and struggle and struggle, and they eventually build up these stresses and conditions.
Chuck Klosterman: So … this is about late capitalism?
RW: Definitely. Definitely.

RW: I'm always going to run into problems with people who think business is more important than human welfare.

CK: What if stress is just part of [playing in the NBA]?
RW: What does that mean, "It's just part of it"? That's like saying people getting killed is just part of war.
CK: But people getting killed is part of war. That's the downside of war.
RW: It doesn't have to be, though. We choose that. When you say, "That's just part of it," it implies that this is natural. Volcanoes don't kill human beings. Volcanoes kill human beings because human beings build houses right next to them.

(And note this smug paternalism from Klosterman:
"There are times when White seems like a brilliant ninth-grader who just wrote a research paper on mental illness and can't stop talking about it. He's arrogant, and perhaps not as wise as he believes himself to be. But sometimes he offers genuine insight into the mediated discomfort of modernity...")


1 comment:

Devin Lenda said...

I just noticed the title on ESPN's main page is "Explaining Royce White," as if he's not explaining the shit out of himself. We need an interpreter?

Klosterman's job is to make anything threatening go away. Making White a petulant, silly child, is his backup plan, like a doctor saying "take this medicine but if it doesn't work, it's not my fault because blah blah." His first approach is to cram White's unconventional thinking back into unthreatening, familiar narratives, to defang and declaw the feral animal, then bring it inside. For a less confident writer, the belittlement might be primary, but Klosterman's mostly thinking "I got this."

Conservatives want to expel, liberals want to tame.