The slobituary

Dateline: Thu 15 Jul 2010

Did anybody else notice that the Indianapolis Star's coverage of the death of John Wooden exceeded the limits of normal eulogizing/fawning?

Wooden was great; he deserved ink. But Matt Taibbi, writing online for Rolling Stone re: the death of Yankees boss/tyrant George Steinbrenner, has coined a goodie: the slobituary, which is his term for "the relentless slobbering that overtakes broadcast media outlets after the death of any Extremely Famous Person."

I don't know why Taibbi didn't include print media. Probably because he's young, and he does not read newspapers.

Anyhow, he has an hilarious premise for how to calculate the amount of ass-kissing/slobering that follows the death of a celebrity:

"Conformity (fear plus consequences)/balls = duration of worship."

An ex-president usually gets seven days of ass-kissing; seven days is pretty much Taibbi's baseline. But of course the wave following Ronald Reagan death went on a bit longer, and Pope John Paul II got easily double that on some news stations, Taibbi writes.

Back to the late Mr. Wooden. The Star really milked his death -- I remember it was about two weeks or so after the fact, when the paper announced on Page 1 that it was coming out with a special section that Sunday. I thought at the time: good guy, great man, but this is over the top.

What I did not think of is Taibbi's hilarious word -- slobituary.

Read hiim here:





gkemery [Member] said:

I regularly read Taibbi's work. He has a knack for cutting to the chase, sometimes in hilarious and/or sobering ways. This was one of those times. He usually writes about politics, but he clearly has interests beyond that.

2010-07-15 22:59:30

Pete [unverified] said:

Of course, VERY little of the John Wooden coverage touched on the reality that a wealthy UCLA booster named Sam Gilbert was paying Wooden's players hundreds of thousands of dollars under the table to sign up for the Bruin roster (Bill Walton has admitted as much).

Wooden, for better or worse, represents the...ummm...*type* of sports figure that is more palatable to Hoosiers. If you think I'm wrong, just sit back in twenty years or so to see how Hoosiers react to the passing of someone like Indianapolis native Oscar Robertson.

2010-07-16 07:27:34

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Yep, the cheating was rampant, and the NCAA was an infant...hardly the enforcement machine it is today. Or Mr. Wooden would likely have found the same fate as, well...Dave Bliss, for instance. Perish the thought.

So our legends are propped upon faulty piers. Horrors. He still accomplished much. And we heard about it ad nauseam. Ho-hum.

The Reagan death exceeded all normality. They hauled his dead ass all over hell's half acre forever. Enough already.

As an aside, you'll have to go far to find someone who despised RR's presidency as much as I did. And that funeral---strictly for Nancy. But I began last winter reading his diaries, which are really letters to her and others. Fascinating. He should've let them handle him less--his true instincts wee great. Atwater, the forerunner to Rove, preferred ice water-in-the-veins political bullying. Reagan, left to his own, would've done far less damage to our political fabric.

2010-07-16 11:32:41

Pete [unverified] said:

Don't you think the excessive week-long funeral for RR was largely due to the fact that he died in the middle of a TIGHT Presidential campaign. The GOP needed to tie Bush closer to the myth of Morning in America and further away from, oh, "Mission Accomplished". If Reagan dies in an off election year, would we have seen such an orgy of faux grieving?

While Reagan's tactics and political instincts were superb, in many ways he was more damaging to our political fabric because of his sunny demeanor. His beaming smile and soothing tones inculcated people into ignoring just how catostrophic his policies actually were. Today's shrieking and sneering conservatives when talking about policy ideas really aren't proposing anything really that different than RR (although I suspect that RR wouldn't have invaded Iraq as a response to 9/11 if faced with that scenario). The difference is that the typical Repub demeanor and apocalyptic rhetoric does not play well with voters on the fence. I suspect they are going to make a 1992 Buchanan style "culture war" mistake at a critical juncture of the 2012 election cycle.

You missed my point about Wooden having a certain "demographic" appeal that the Star cultivated. Think about how supposedly knowledgable basketball fans view the legacy of Steve Alford to Oscar Robertson.

2010-07-16 13:09:12

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

NO ONE with half a mind would've invaded Iraq on such flimsy evidence, except someone needing to validate his macho bona fides. After a close election which he really lost.

RR allowed slimy politics to become the accepted norm. For that I'll never forgive him. He also allowed Iran-Contra to be undertaken, in direct violation of existing law. Only in neocon America could that villain, Ollie North, become a hero.

The weeklong funeral was overkill. Squirrel hunting with an elephant gun.

2010-07-16 13:15:03

Pete [unverified] said:

I think that one of these days someone from the 2nd term Reagan White House will come clean that the inner circle knew about his Alzheimer's even then. I honestly think that his visible mental deterioration enabled Ollie North and crew to simply launch Iran-Contra all on their own without being noticed by their CiC. The added bonus to this is that it provided Reagan with plausible deniability. After all, when he failed to recall or remember who did or said what during that time, he was telling the truth.

2010-07-16 13:28:35

ruthholl [Member] said:

Pete's point is well-taken, about the demographic appeal of John Wooden.
Ditto all the insight about the basketball program ala Sam Gilbert -- all news to me. Fascinating, again.
Thanks for all being truth-tellers, including TTT.

2010-07-16 18:45:21

antipinacolada [unverified] said:

it was very interesting to read.
I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

2010-07-24 22:52:54

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