Another Eulogy From My Jobless Muses

The show must go on. Unlike “break a leg”, whose use has become gesundheit, this theatrical maxim of unknown origin has become shorthand for an actual human mindset and perhaps the easiest eulogy known to man. It’s definition according to dictionary.com reads, “People are counting on us to do this, and we must not disappoint them”.  These are some of the things we have come to count on, consider them condiments to death and taxes.

June 2nd, 2014, we were counting on the Bachelorette to closet too many hormones under the roof of one posh villa, shaking up the nutritionless froth of its drama. I could halfheartedly regret this joint decision of my free time and eyes for its gross spectacle but I’m not above spectacle (case in point, Bowe Holyfield 2), so even though I haven’t been watching the show my pizza found company. What’s really regrettable is the editing, that and the hypocrisy, and the bastardization of human interactions, but man that show has some bad editing!

Towards the end of this particular cookie cutter episode, containing all the usual tropes of fanciful dates: rappelling a skyscraper or done up in makeup to look elderly (each very telling situations for the heart), then punctuated with extensive candle lit cheers, their bulbous wine glasses held up in the stasis of, “I want to say how thankful I am that you chose me for this one on one date, and how excited I am for the opportunity to go through this amazing process with you,” or some such tripe that is roughly a laser pointer and a slide show short of being corporate filler for the emotions, even the base emotions of the loins, which are previewed and recapped until you’ve seen the overly edited soap thrice, towards the end of which, yesterday, we finally got our promised froth in the form of argument. Ooooh la la. Eric, an adventurer, and let me just say that has to look good on a resume, far better than gamer or balding anyway (my resume is a tad thin, no pun intended), Eric told Andi, our bachelorette, that he felt the reason they haven’t been progressing in their connection was in part due to her hiding, hamming it up for the camera a little, or, dare he say it, having a “poker face”. All domesticated heck broke loose.

It didn’t seem like much, but you never know, she may have had a bad incident. Out late, a weekend after being overworked, cutting free and making up for it, an attractive woman, the free drinks, Malibu and orange juice dripping off the walls, clothing her, hugging her hips, sticky, feeling a hot sexy mess, and finally a decent approach, square chin, his raw smile, the jaunt to the busy dance floor, its hypnotizing lights, the beat, the animal response, close flesh, the bubbling friction, the butterflies, I’m like a teenager, she thought, her head spinning, the thought brief and slow before the too quick realization and the faster expanding esophagus and abdominal cinch, involuntary propulsion, and the smash of her rusted orange contents, the vomit luckily muted by Lady Ga Ga’s latest saccharin repetitions, cauterized Pavlovian unto our dearest Andi. It’s a small world: I got sick on Chicago style hot dogs and split pea soup in fourth grade and haven’t regained a taste for them since. I’ve already spent too much time talking about the show without getting to my point, but I want to make sure I don’t judge; all I’m saying.

Even a coward has a sense of duty. Graham Greene

So Andi broke down. She felt disrespected by this insinuation that she wasn’t taking it seriously. How dare we. Preview, commercial, recap, cut. The next thing the audience sees is host Chris Harrison and Andi Dorfman sitting in chairs where Harrison informs us that Eric Hill passed away in April, after leaving the show, in a paragliding accident. They thought it wouldn’t be right to show the rose ceremony after this tragedy and instead wanted to make it all about Eric. What followed had little to do with Eric Hill and nothing to do with his life outside of the show. He was on four episodes of The Bachelorette. There was nothing about his friends or his family, his passion for extreme sports or even his favorite color. It was Chris Harrison, with all the humanity of a weatherman, walking Andi Dorfman through the implications this had for the show. He would never be able to laugh off the argument at the tell all!

On March 31st, 2013, Louisville played Duke in the Elite 8 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Kevin Ware broke his leg badly after descending from a jump to block a shot. The compound fracture left Ware’s leg, bone exposed, dangling at a revolting angle. Players became very emotional, doubled up and crying. Louisville won the game 85 to 63 and later the national championship. Head Coach Rick Pitino said of Ware’s injury, “The bone’s 6 inches out of his leg and all he’s yelling is, ‘Win the game, win the game’, I’ve not seen that in my life. … Pretty special young man.” Ware would become a focal point for the team, the tournament, and received “tons” of messages of support from layman and celebrities.

May 23rd, 1999, “What happened was really a mirror image to a circus going wrong, with someone falling off the high wire or falling off the trapeze,” said professional wrestler Chris Jericho. For pay-per-view event Over the Edge, produced by now World Wrestling Entertainment, wrestler Owen Hart fell some 70 feet to his death when a gimmick for his entrance from the rafters involving a harness of argued quality went awry. The at home audience did not see the fall, cameras came back from a vignette to pan the audience, and were told of the accidents reality as facts came to light. Owner Vince McMahon and associates decided to carry on with the show; most of the 16,000 plus fans in attendance did not learn the seriousness of the situation until they left the event. The WWE held its weekly cable broadcast the next day in honor of Owen Hart. Owen Hart was survived by his wife and two children. His wife, Martha Hart, said in the Calgary Sun, “And after he lost his fight for life they just scooped him up and ordered the next match out. Where’s the humanity? Would he have wanted the show to go on? Absolutely not.”

Give me a minute here to be self aware. I know this post is striking the palette with the taste of country tap water: irony. Reality TV, sports, pro wrestling and morality? Which can be translated: business, business, business, ethics: Duck, duck, duck, goose. Birds of a feather? The quick answer is- it’s ridiculous to hold these entities as bastions of proper behavior. True. However remaining critical of them, and these polarizing examples, can be functional.

Kevin Ware’s injury, and Pitino’s reaction to it, are not as far removed from Owen Hart and Eric Hill as we might like. In between are the numerous situations where an athlete is carted off a football field with no signs of movement. The militant honor we have attributed these games allows them to move on as their own justification; Ware’s injury a badge of honor, a pep talk; postponement or cancellation appears equivalent to negotiating with terrorism. This common vein is what allowed ABC to commercialize Eric Hill’s death and tempted the WWE to continue Over the Edge.  While more people agree with Martha Hart than don’t, that the WWE handled Owen Hart’s death without tact, I doubt whether most would agree if Owen Hart’s fall had been less severe. These of course are not simple yes or no questions. I refuse adamance other than: in each situation there is an answer, one often independent of action.

It is now one claims there is a comfort in the constancy of nature. Chris Forhan

The mind set “the show must go on” is rarely stated literally. It’s, “I know he’s looking down with a smile watching us celebrate this one,” or, “He would want us to carry on”. When life delves into times of grief, routine can numb, anesthetize, let us plant our wounded leg’s first step. Yet, second only to despondency, is there anything easier than to carry on, to ride our life’s inertia? After Kevin Ware’s leg snapped, randomly, was it only sensitivity that made me completely not care who won the game anymore? was it sheer gruesomeness that made me stop watching? Perhaps. Or is it that there must be a point when the parallels to our chaotic human experience trump the pastime.

I also have that inner high school phy-ed teacher, blasting Van Halen, a polo shirt tucked into wind pants,  with diet Mt. Dew instead of coffee; whose personal jingoism refutes there are in fact two sides to a coin, because one is always out of sight; who still adores Paterno “as a coach” because he won, and puts all dead “in a better place”. At each sign of suffering, instead of seeking root cause, or reminded to remedy it worldwide, he hits G7 on the empathy vending machine, and, between a Milky Way and a Hallmark card, “win one for the Gipper,” uncoils and he bends over. The stubbornness of the human will is not always a triumph. It can ease its way through life, into and out of its own Eichmanns. The show goes on because of logistics, scheduling, money, and Hart is dragged from the ring. Our routine, fencing us, rounding us, dull, into the gray area’s where exploitation is televised and I swallow my pizza. This is what I seek to combat.

Grief is personal, as are any of its timetables, and it should not always take grief, but the show must stop for the showing of emotion to begin. Perhaps next time a man has his neck braced in the two minute hush, the game stops for us, we must reflect in order to find honor.

 
Sources:
http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/tournament/2013/story/_/id/9118319/2013-ncaa-tournament-kevin-ware-louisville-cardinals-breaks-bone-leg-duke-blue-devils
http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/226585451.html
http://slam.canoe.ca/OwenHart/may23_martha.html
http://www.canoe.ca/OwenHart/may25_wretor.html

Rick Pitino labels Kevin Ware’s injury ‘most difficult moment’ of his coaching career

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2013/04/01/louisville-coach-rick-pitino-update-kevin-ware-broken-leg/2043105/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Coolbaugh
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McSherry
Greene, Graham. The Power and the Glory. 190. 
Forhan, Chris. The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars. 51-52.
 
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