Monday, January 27, 2014

A Fawning Spectacle Of Self-Absorption

As TigerBlog watched what little of the Grammys that he could stand last night, he couldn't help but think about something that made him smirk.

The Grammys are supposed to be a showcase of the best in the music business. Instead, it became a fawning spectacle of self-absorption and forced cool, and it didn't work on any level, at least not for TigerBlog, who doesn't usually going in for rampant narcissism.

There were so many moments of the show, at least the 45 minutes that TB saw, where he was begging someone to step up and put in a signature performance. He really hoped it would be Imagine Dragons, who came closest, or maybe Willie Nelson, who didn't.

Mostly it was just going through the motions, with some downright awful moments, like that incredibly weird country song by the cute young women who then won some award for it. The song was called apparently "Follow Your Arrow."

TB had long since fallen asleep when the controversial moment of the show happened, the 35 weddings that took place simultaneously, officiated by none other than Queen Latifah. Some of the weddings were between one man and one woman; others weren't.

TigerBlog isn't here to debate gay marriage and its merits. This is a basically non-political space. Besides, that's hardly the part that TB didn't like.

Mass weddings during the Grammy Awards? This is what it's come to? It's not that the music isn't enough? The Grammys also need to take the lead in being outrageous? Top that, Oscar?

That, of course, is the point. The music isn't enough. It should be, but it isn't.

Oh, it was when TB was a kid. He put the record on the record player - or the cassette in the cassette player - and all you heard was the music. Then came videos, and appearance began to trump music. And then it spiraled to become performance art more than anything else, and once the emphasis shifts away from substance and to flash, well, there's no going back.

And that's sort of the part that made TB smirk. It was thinking about shows like "the Voice" or "American Idol" or any of them. The premise is that anyone can walk in off the street and become a star, and many of those people through the years have. Isn't that an indication that the people on the stage at the Grammys were nothing special, just those who got the lucky break at some point?

TB has said this for years, but it doesn't work that way in athletics. There can't a show called "The Body" where contestants come in, win the game and end up in the NBA.

It makes athletics purer.

Take Caraun Reid, for instance, who, by the way, is a pretty good singer too. If he's going to make to the very top of his chosen field - a football field - then he 's going to have to earn it.

This isn't something that can be handed to him by opening the doors to just anyone and seeing whom the studio chooses or people at home send in texts as vote. This isn't something that thousands of people could do if only they got the chance.

Reid played in the Senior Bowl this weekend. TB watched a little of that as well, though he struggled at first to figure out which team the Princeton defensive tackle was on.

Then, when he figured out that Reid was on the white team, he knew that he wasn't wearing his regular No. 11 that he wore at Princeton. Not after he saw Auburn's Chris Davis return a punt while wearing No. 11.

Davis, as you might remember, put up the biggest play in college football in recent memory when he returned that field goal attempt 109.9 yards to beat Alabama And now here and Reid were, as teammates.

Pretty much everything that TigerBlog read about the game indicated that Reid helped himself as much as anyone all week.

He certainly did well in the game, with a pair of sacks on back-to-back plays, blowing by some highly regarding offensive linemen to do so. He's also coming along at a good time, when the defensive tackle position is becoming more important than it was not that long ago, when the key was finding speed rushing defensive ends and outside linebackers.

TigerBlog has met Reid and spoken to him, though only a little through the years. He's a big man with a soft voice and a very compelling story - strong family, very religious, Princeton background.

As much as anyone not named Epperly, Reid was the cornerstone of the resurgence of Princeton football. He's a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection and a two-time All-America, including a first-team selection this year.

And he's really easy to root for. He figured to get drafted before he did so well this week, in practice and game, and now he probably has helped himself a lot.

That's what talent is all about. Real talent. Unique talent.

Not what passed for talent at the Grammys.

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