Parties, clubs, money signs, middle fingers: A Johnny Manziel Introspective
America is a divided society these days with polarizing content on continuous flow propelled by the digital age. Radio and newspaper industries and even the art form known as pure journalism have been forced to the outskirts. The mighty TV trap, lord over all young people’s attention span now clings to a slim two percent lead over computers in trailing millennial’s show viewing time allotment. Extreme sharing and video analysis have led to conservatives and liberals constantly attacking one another in all forms of digital media from user content to CNBC vs. Fox News style slant coverage.
Within these rigid societal subdivisions are always commonalities that are so real and close to home that digital enemies can share moments, like a cat video or finding things about life that just hold true everywhere. Some of these common themes are positive and some are negative.
Clearly on the negative side are haters. No matter where you go there are haters. They may not hate you but they are actively hating someone who has a better car/girl/sneakers/talent. Haters aren’t always a bad thing and artists such as Jay-Z have actually thrived in the face of criticism by finding motivation and/or that proverbial chip on one’s shoulder so necessary to make authentic art.
In the case of professional athletes and musicians outside the rap genre haters can be a downright nuisance and very costly to one’s money and energy. Often the media compromises a large percentage of haters for those with high profile jobs. Pundits and prognosticators thrive on preaching while hiding behind the job title of journalist. While in a sense the gossip column itself is journalism (especially when a social caste system such as Hollywood is in place) judgment of those being gossiped about is most certainly not. Nonetheless as those in the spotlight make bad decisions or tweets from an emotionally pure place there is an explosion in hater activities. The advent of TMZ sports is a sign the apocalypse may be closer than we thought and reputable media outlets have stooped to lower levels to compete with these digital Judge Dredds.
As a responsible journalist (of sorts) at a heralded Washington State educational institution it is my duty to provide fair trial to those wrongly prosecuted in the media. Armed only with scattered memories from multiple readings of Gonzo journalism creator Hunter S. Thompson and my $25 thousand a year education I attempt to bring order to the case of the savage media whores vs. one Jonathan Paul Manziel.
There is only one way to assess whether or not the media scourge of haters has gone too far and that is by direct comparison to when they did go too far: Britney Spears.
Without further ado let the Manziel/Spears highlight assessment begin.
Level 1- Vegas
Spears: Marries a musician named Jason Alexander (not the one that played George Costanza). The media immediately described this as a pop-star rebelling against pressure from paparazzi and touring demands yet no one thought a multi-platinum sex symbol was entitled to a three day bender and sham marriage in Vegas? Please.
Manziel: Has a photo leak of him rolling up a twenty dollar bill in the bathroom. Now I haven’t seen Scarface yet, but I’m told I will understand the bill rolling after I view that movie. Now this was July of 2014 so Manziel had every right to be in Sin City, but you have to give this round to the media vultures. They have leapt to assumptions about a photo that never should have been taken but there just aren’t many reasons to make cash a straw.
Hated on edge: Spears Media: Fair in questioning Manziel
Level 2- The Bird
Spears: Britney has a Youtube video of her many one fingered salutes to the Paparazzi. Little to no controversy however and no bird more famous than another. Had Britney chosen a VMA performance such as fellow artist MIA than perhaps the frenzy of media pundits would have more to say, but she is deservedly above reproach on this because of how intense she is pursued for photos.
Manziel: Fined $12 thousand for birding the Washington Redskins bench in his second preseason game. Johnny Football and the Browns got rocked and the bench taunts were undoubtedly the brand of maximum disrespect reserved for false celebrities such as Manziel and Tebow. The media put a lot of discussion to his maturity and composure but mostly stern warnings about “everyone watching including kids”. Coaches called it disappointing.
Hated on edge: Manziel, but only because of the fine.
Media: Only sucked a little bit at giving this incident too much attention.
Level 3- Alpha: Party Omega: Rehab
Spears: A post K-Fed (more on this next) Britney found family in the party circuit with true LA innovators Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. While the girls formed quite the clique for some shocking paparazzi photos it was the entire body of Britney’s post-divorce bender that forced her into rehab.
Manziel: After Johnny Football admitted his rookie year should have been a little more focused on professionalism, rehab became the obvious choice. A stint in rehab before his sophomore season in Cleveland probably did little more than allow newly signed Brown’s QB Josh McCown a chance to catch up on the playbook. Manziel not only lost the starting QB in his second preseason but seemed to regress from his rookie season where he split time between football and partying instead of football and meetings.
Hated on edge: Draw
Media: Literally the worst part of watching any television is when a celebrity admits things have gone a little off the rails and checks into rehab. Soap boxes nationwide buckle under the pressure of pundits leaping at the chance to proclaim that this is something bigger than just a story. Suddenly every member of the national media is a comparing/compassionate individual with sincere intentions. They just want you to do the right thing. They want you to take care of yourself. They really hope this wake-up call is enough to get your life turned around. They stop speaking as a journalist and then say “Johnny if you’re out there it’s really important you listen.” Once the media personality is talking to the person in question and not the viewers you have an official platform called grand standing. While original popularity was reserved for politics and the occasional PTA meeting, of late grand standing is a media vice.
Hated on Edge: Manziel.
This was the exhausting jury deliberation that took 48 hours. While the media has crushed Spears for her bender behavior, judged her love of Kevin Federline, questioned her right to pregnancy and bombarded her with judgement of every sort she has rarely been directly addressed by pundits. In a sense the media respects the fact that she is way to cool to spend her time watching their crappy shows. Manziel is barraged by former players who now have joined the media and have the hardware to prove they know the league. Spears has the rare air of succeeding to a level that only Madonna, Prince, or MJ (when he was alive) would be qualified to deliver the “professional” on-air pep talk.
Media: Guilty of repeatedly ruining TV and bringing an unfair level of celebrity to a polarizing figure. Rob Gronkowski and Brett Favre can match Manziel’s party pedigree ,but if Johnny can’t keep his hands off of women he will always be a news story. Johnny’s football news is worthy of the occasional box score. Johnny’s celebrity is media built and will die if his NFL career does. Johnny will always remain in the news when legal problems arise now. He is dangerously close to joining Lawrence Phillips on the police blotter news cycle instead of rising above like Spears.