There’s an interesting update on two stories from last week’s issue (just Premium: the stories weren’t in the free edition), which brings up a huge question: when celebrities/star athletes are convicted of a heinous crime, what should become of their past accomplishments?
Let’s start with the stories, and the what’s behind their taglines. They were in the 7 October 2018 issue.
Hop To It
Police in Grayson, La., were dispatched to an unusual traffic hazard: a kangaroo hopping down the road. It was no alcohol-induced hallucination: Assistant Chief Freddy Mercer captured the critter, and took a selfie with it in the front seat of his patrol car. When he posted the photo online, commenters said it wasn’t a ’roo after all, but rather a wallaby. (RC/WPLG Miami) …Watch me wallaby feed mate — they’re a dangerous breed mate.
Hop To It Too
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirms it is searching for an unusual animal: a kangaroo that was reported in Jupiter Farms. It was no alcohol-induced hallucination: a woman took a video of the animal hopping down the road in town and posted it online. Plus, F&W officers know who it belongs to: a man who has a license for the critter; its name is “Storm”. (RC/WPLG Miami) …Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down.
That escaped ’roo was also captured on camera:
To explain the tags for those who didn’t recognize the lines, I included the following in the same issue:
There’s an Old Australian Stockman, lying, dying: I know a lot of you were around in the early 1960s and got the wallaby/kangaroo reference in the two stories this week. I don’t remember ever hearing the song before, but Kit and my friend Leo, who were here when I was writing the stories, sure did, and Leo brought up the song on Youtube, which led to the tags. For the rest of you, here’s the pop cultural reference we listened to:
Singer Rolf Harris offered the four Australian musicians who played on the song 10 percent of its royalties, but they decided instead to take a fee of 28 pounds split among them because they thought the song would be a flop. Yet “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” became one of the most successful Aussie songs ever.
And Then the Other Shoe Dropped
Greg in Victoria, Australia, writes:
Thanks for another great edition. I realise I’m probably not the first Australian to point this out, but you may want to update the references for ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’ and Rolf Harris to ‘Singer and convicted pedophile Rolf Harris’ – or remove the attribution entirely.
(Emphasis from the original; he also provided a link to a news story.)
Sigh! Are there any celebrities left that don’t have an abusive past?! Greg was indeed the first (and still only) reader to call my attention to it, and sure enough, Harris’s Wikipedia entry has plenty of gory details, including that Harris was sentenced to 5+ years in prison at age 84 (he’s now 88, and was released in 2017; apparently it’s common Down Under to be released at the half-way point if they behave). The charge was multiple counts indecent assault on several teen girls in the 1970s and 80s, and is common in such cases, there may have been more.
It was interesting timing: after hitting Send on the issue last week, I headed to dinner with my mastermind group, before Greg’s letter arrived, and one of the discussion topics at the table was Bill Cosby, who was recently sentenced to 3-10 years in prison, and the interesting question: when public figures like that are convicted of such crimes, what does that do to their body of work?
Great TV or comedy is still great TV or comedy, said one table mate; my response was: Except that everything (e.g., comedy) depends on context, and even though the content was certainly good at the time (e.g., a TV show), knowledge of the crimes now does change your own context, and sure, that would affect your enjoyment should you (say) watch a re-run or DVD of that content. Would that/should that make your pleasure a guilty one? Or even feel shame for enjoying it, even if no one else knew you did?
In a timely extension to our dinner conversation, Harris’s Wiki page notes that his many honors (knighthood, recording industry “Hall of Fame” status, etc.) have all been rescinded/“annulled,” so at least in that context, the “answer” from such honorable associations to our discussion seems to be, erase the past.
But on the other hand, you can still buy The Cosby Show (all 199 episodes! [sheesh: they couldn’t have made ONE MORE?]) is still for sale on Amazon. Only $21, too. So while the sports star’s or other celebrity’s past is at the very least marked with an asterisk, for goodness sake at least someone can still make money off him (or her!)
I’m interested in what you think about this concept of erasing the past, and/or whether it is still OK to enjoy that celebrity’s (or athlete’s) past accomplishments. Comments are open below.
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