Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pondering the Olympics

So, this morning I heard Michael Phelps say that he was listening to Lil Wayne on his Ipod just before latest world record-breaking swim. I have to wonder now if anyone will choose to associate rap and hip hop with success and hard work. Doubtful, you say? I agree. Perhaps someone will link Phelps with the violence and dysfunction in hip hop. Don't think that will happen, either? Probably not, despite the fact that Phelps does have a DUI arrest to attest to the fact that he's not actually Superman.
Phelps is, however, almost literally the golden boy of these Olympic Games. He has been called Superman (although my husband asked why not Aquaman--ha!). And he's on my television almost every time I turn to the Olympics, even when I'm watching some other sport altogether. I mean, seriously, are there any other athletes over there? Clearly, Phelps is talented and has put in the work that leads him to win almost every race he enters. Watching him compete is exciting and he seems like a decent person who is focused on a goal; I don't take any of that away from him. I'm just throwing him into the always complicated and messy mix of American iconic imagery and popular culture.
Here's another question: Remember the 2004 Olympics when there was a lot of to do about (black) track and field athletes who were said to celebrate with too much bravado? There was a swimmer who frequently posed like Superman before he swam. I think I had to write a letter of complaint about it. Anyway, I'm trying to remember if that was Phelps or some other swimmer. Can anyone help me out?

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