Monday, February 2, 2009

Thought For Food: Michael Phelps "Caught" Smoking

So Michael Phelps is a real person! Who smokes trees, parties with girls, and likes to swim. The recent onslaught of news covering this "story" is a bit distressing to me as time and time again, the reputation of famous people are shattered as "incriminating" evidence relates another side of these individuals. Not to be too naive here, but I must ask, who really deems these photos, films, and audio clips incriminating? Michael Phelps is not T.I. In Phelps' case, I believe it is the News of the World, the British news publication that initially received the photo. stated that, "the report allegedly made Phelps' handlers so paranoid that they offered the paper an eye-popping deal to keep it from seeing the light of day - having Phelps pen a column for the paper for three years." (Which is hilarious and absurd at the same time.) 

My issue is this. When photos like these come out, who is to say what that photo means, and how it should be viewed? later reported that the photo was, "so potentially damaging to his career that his representatives allegedly [the media loves to throw out that allegedly] tried to buy off the British Newspaper to keep the photo from seeing the light of day." Surely, this photo may be detrimental for his endorsement deals, as Powerbar, Speedo, and Visa rely on Phelps to pitch their products to the public. But part of me believes that some fault should lie in the hands of these corporations who wanted to believe that Phelps has never really done anything in his life except swim. Which is dumb. 

Possibly the underlying struggle of this story is the promotion of ones image versus their true reality and character. When we mix celebrities (people with fame) with products to sell to the public (people without fame) we muddy the true reality of who that person is, as we buy into the feigned reality presented in that 30 second short. "But I thought Michael Phelps was this type of person, but this photo shows him as this type of person.." Rather than letting each bit of information we learn about celebrities add to our total understanding of who they are as a whole, the role of endorsements creates an environment where photos become incriminating as they create a discord between the perceived image of the celebrity and the realities they portray.

Personally, the fact that I now know that Michael Phelps has smoked trees before, makes me appreciate him more. I was like, "Damn he served the rest of the world in swimming AND he smokes trees??" Michael Phelps has become more human to me. I think it's silly for us to believe that people we see in the media are squeaky clean figures that have never experimented with anything, made a poor decision, or decided to take a chance. 

George Bush liked the yayo. Bill Clinton was down with the fellatio. Can Michael Phelps not get on some trees?

Full FoxSports Article Here



  1. yeah i was glad to see that my boyfriend is, in fact, human enough to get high and party with southern sorority girls. now we can let the world know about our romance. i'm ashamed no longer.

  2. this looks like the making of a rhetorical criticism paper!!!!