Tag: Colin Kaepernick

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

Despite All Its Problems, America Continues To Bless Colin Kaepernick

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the beginning of the current decade, Colin Kaepernick was primarily known for being a promising young quarterback.  Even then, he seemed to relish an image as something of an antihero, emerging from the ignorant noise of his loudmouth, no-nothing detractors.  This goes back at least as far as his first commercial, when a younger, much shorter-haired Kaepernick starred in a three-minute (!) spot for headphones, of all things. (Just imagine him trying to put those things on now.)  We see Kaepernick getting off a bus, as thousands of feral-like fans try to viciously shout him down.  Kaepernick, with a sense of cool not seen since The Fonz, ignores them all, stoically listening to a song titled, “I’m The Man.”  Of COURSE you are, Colin.

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Before causing trouble with his social justice crusading, Colin Kaepernick just liked to cause trouble.

At the time, this was a curious ad. Who in the ACTUAL world hated Colin Kaepernick? He was an emerging star, helping to lead his 49ers to the Superbowl in a rookie season- very marketable, and hardly the polarizing figure that this ad portrayed. Perhaps disappointed by his LACK of notoriety as his star began to fade in 2013, Kaepernick was spotted in public wearing a Miami Dolphins hat- something kind of weird for a quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers to do. Though somewhat obnoxious, it was far from the stuff of full-blown outrage. Still, there were a few 49ers diehards that took the bait, complaining about Kaepernick’s disloyalty- and, in an act of foreshadowing of much bigger things to come, disrespect. Finally, Kaepernick had his real life targets to ridicule, and ridicule them he did, posting a very sarcastic looking picture of himself holding up a Dolphins hat. Making less headlines on the field, Kaepernick seemed to relish the notoriety off the field.

103250-780x550Fast forward another three years to 2016.  Barely on the public radar by this point, Kaepernick grew his hair out, generating his off-field persona as a social justice warrior for a community that, quite honestly, he was never part of.  That’s not to say he doesn’t actually care about this community, as only he knows his true intentions- and to be fair, he has donated lots of money to causes he advocates.  (This is something ALL successful pro-athletes, entertainers, and multi-millionaires in general should do, but that’s for another discussion.)  But regardless of his intentions, the methods Kaepernick used were not exactly constructive towards advancing his newly adopted cause(s).  Rather than bring people together to try working on practical solutions, Kaepernick deliberately stirred the pot, preaching to the choir of people who already believed what he was saying, while deeply alienating those who didn’t, with an incendiary press statement about the United States.  While there are certainly plenty of issues to discuss regarding this country, including that of the troubling relationships between the police and the inner-city communities which they serve, Kaepernick’s initial statement- and this is for those who say Kaepernick’s protest is “only” about police brutality- was a far more sweeping condemnation about the country that made him a rich man, stating that he refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  (I suppose it’s also too oppressive for him to vote, as he skipped the 2016 election altogether.)  And while we’ve all spent WAY too much time already “debating” (actually, screaming at each other) about the merits and liabilities of kneeling, how about the fact that Kaepernick actually started his protest by sitting on the bench throughout the anthem?!  (It wasn’t enough for him that he’d spend the next three hours doing that?) It was only after realizing it would be better PR for him to kneel, and the rest is history.

And what about the socks controversy? Before becoming the world’s most famous shoe salesman, Kaepernick sported some rather nifty socks, showing pigs wearing police hats. Kaepernick responded with his usual eloquence- seriously, he’s a smart man- along with his typical faux indignation, lamenting this distraction from “the real issues”.  But come on- does someone as intelligent as Colin Kaepernick really not know that these socks would generate a “distraction”? It seems like a reasonable assumption that he went out of his way to purchase these statement-making socks- it’s not like they sell them at Walmart!

And hey, speaking of big, heartless corporations, enter Nike into the picture. Not afraid of exploiting controversies any more than they’re afraid to exploit third world workers- this is a company that once cynically used Tiger Woods’ infidelity to sell their products– they recruited Kaepernick to be the new face of their marketing campaign, under one of the most ironic marketing slogans in American history, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything Kaepernick stands for is pure and just, as are his motives. What exactly is he sacrificing? Already worth more than he’ll ever be able to spend in his life, Kaepernick’s unremarkable talent was simply not enough to justify the PR headache that any NFL owner surely would have had to deal with, had they signed him. Instead, he was signed by Nike, making far more than he ever would have as an (AT BEST) run-of-the-mill quarterback. And for this, he’s being compared to Muhammed Ali refusing to serve in Vietnam- or even ROSA PARKS?! Only in today’s America can this be done with a straight face, just as only in today’s America can this be consider “sacrificing everything”.

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The American flag in the background is a nice touch.

But give credit where it’s due- Colin Kaepernick has achieved the outlaw, antihero status he longed for, probably beyond his wildest dreams, while Nike’s sales have spiked upwards. By hitching itself to his wagon, Nike made a bold but savvy move- alienating Trump’s MAGA crowd, but becoming the hero of the left- a group normally associated with being AGAINST big corporations.  Any boycott Nike will see from this PR stunt will likely be far outweighed by the sales they will generate, as early indicators seem to suggest. At the end of it all, the only “sacrifice” made will be of the Nike products that are being burned to a crisp by the misguided counter-protesters, thinking they’re making some sort of statement besides, “We’re not very intelligent.”  They’d have been far better served donating those clothes to charity, and simply stating that they’re never buying Nike again.  But that’s just not how things are done these days, in a highly politicized environment filled with venom, rancor, and silliness.

As for “The Man” Colin Kaepernick, we’ll likely never see him take another snap in the NFL again.  That’s too bad, because had he done so, he’d likely remind us of the REAL primary reason why he’s not in the NFL anymore- quite simply, he’s just not all that good.  Instead, he gets to be the martyr for a cause that he didn’t even expand beyond the base of people who already agreed with him in the first place.  No matter.  This whole thing is making Colin Kaepernick a rich(er) man, to the point where even HE will have to say, “God Bless America.”

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South Park Is Still Great, While Colin Kaepernick Is Not

South Park Is Still Great, While Colin Kaepernick Is Not

(Note- this is A *SPOILER HEAVY* review of the season 20 premiere episode)

It’s impossible to pinpoint a single reason why South Park remains so incredible. For one thing, the height of the show’s popularity came years before the height of the show’s quality.  Think about it- when the feature film “Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” was released at the end of the last century, not a single word had yet been spoken by Butters, Randy was merely known as Stan’s dad, and Cartman was, in hindsight, a somewhat one-dimensional foul-mouthed ignoramus, still a long ways from the double-crossing schemer that we’ve come to know and, for lack of a better word, love.

It’s also refreshing, in a time where most topical comedy seems to be about finding the easiest path to getting a “WOOOOOO!!!” from a sympathetic audience, South Park continues to take shots at targets everywhere. Even longtime fans of the show will find themselves saying, “Heeeey- wait a minute!” at least once or twice an episode. All of its elite peers, such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, peaked years ago. With an ever-growing list of things to offend anyone, combined with the increasing madness of our world, the one which South Park resides in has more than enough reasons to be as compelling as ever.

Recently, though, the most important change to the show has been in the format. With prior seasons more or less relying on each episode as a standalone, last season followed a format usually suited for dramas, with continuous storylines throughout.  If not watched from beginning to end, the viewer could be left very confused.  (I’m speaking from experience.)  Given the renewed praise of the show, which introduced PC Principal as one of the show’s newest main characters, it’s no surprise that Season 20 is sticking with this format.

Also back are the Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s lightning-fast real time responses to current events. The commercial for the opener, featuring the townspeople singing the “new national anthem” in a scene not actually shown in the episode, imply a strong distaste for Colin Kaepernick’s perceived self-aggrandizing.  On the flip side, the opening scene of season 20 gives us South Park’s girl volleyball team, protesting a legitimate grievance during the National Anthem.  In this case, the target is the public’s reaction to the protest, too caught up in turning the National Anthem protest into a sport, to consider what the point of the protest might actually be.  On the show, the cause was misogynistic cyberbullying, serving as a stand-in for real life police brutality.  This is classic South Park- before you can get too comfortable nodding up and down, clapping like a trained seal at your TV set as the host (or hostess) validates your etched-in-stone worldview, you instead find your worldview being challenged.  In other words, those who want more public attention focused on injustices, might wonder if Colin Kaepernick’s divisive tactics are the right way to go about it.  On the other hand, others might wonder if Kaepernick’s cause, if not Kaepernick himself, might at least be worth considering.

south-park-garrisonBut that wasn’t even the biggest target of the night for this episode. Returning to the spotlight, more relevant even now than when the joke was first introduced, was “Giant Douche versus Turd Sandwich.”  This has gotten some criticism from other parts of the Internet, seemingly because some take umbrage at Hillary Clinton being referred to as Turd Sandwich.  Lacking in self-awareness, many of these people scream at South Park’s “false equivalency” of Donald Trump’s awfulness and Hillary Clinton’s (from their point of view) far-less dangerous qualities.  Always ahead of the curve, Parker and Stone seem to have anticipated this in advance, in the form of Randy Marsh, incredulously wondering how anyone can possibly consider voting for a Giant Douche (Trump) over a Turd Sandwich (Clinton).  In fact, those paying attention to the episode in a non-partisan light would see that they did actually spend more time skewering Trump- with Mr. Garrison used as his stand-in, to hilarious effect.  Some pro-Clinton critics also griped that the level of Trump bashing wasn’t enough, which missed yet another point of this plotline- that Trump’s buffoonish behavior (or in this case, Garrison’s) has been a net positive for the guy.  Besides, they had his solution to getting rid of America’s enemies as “f*cking them all to death”!  What else were they supposed to do, exactly, have him shoot someone on 5th Avenue?!  That wouldn’t have mattered, either!

But wait- there was even more to this episode!  It was a long summer, and there were plenty of other topics to address, as well.  Thanks largely to Eric Cartman, we witnessed jabs at-

  • Internet Trolls
  • Amy Schumer’s increasingly tired act
  • Overly sensitive reactions to criticisms of the Ghostbusters reboot
  • An excess of reboots, complete with over-the-top praise for JJ Abrams’ minor tweaking of classic plotlines
  • Gratuitous gender-bending roles, courtesy of a brief mention of Token, playing the role of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma (“Get over it!”)
  • Hashtag Activism
  • And finally- for those who disdain Parker and Stone’s anti-liberal leanings- deceptively tasty right-wing nostalgia fruit, known as ‘member berries.  (As in, ” ‘member Reagan?”).

The last one- which, in fairness, had nothing to do with Cartman- is of particular interest.  Although it was fairly lonely as the one target solely aimed at conservatives, it also is the one that has the potential for the most mayhem this season.  (It took every ounce of strength for me not to type out, “bare the most fruit.”  Forgive me, dear reader.)  Starting out as relatively harmless nostalgia vehicles, mostly by mentioning great movies of yesteryear, the berries find their way into sinister territory, reminding Randy of a time when there weren’t as many Mexicans in the United States.  Not one to normally figure out when he’s being duped, Randy almost immediately senses that something is horribly wrong.  This was quite out of character, but perhaps the writers thought that having a beloved character like Randy susceptible to racism was a bridge too far for viewers to cross.

The surprise I felt at Randy’s awareness at the situation, however, was nothing compared to the twist ending, though, as we discover that the troll is Kyle’s dad, of all people.  Near everyone in the world, both South Park’s and ours, figured it was Cartman, but the South Park writers have shown themselves to be capable of some pretty jarring twist endings, ever since “Scott Tenorman Must Die”.  Why a mild-mannered lawyer, usually one of the more level-headed characters on the show, would take to the Internet to troll elementary school girls is anyone’s guess.  Finding out why is a good reason to keep tuning in, in case you needed one.  Which you shouldn’t.