“The Arrogant Quest to be the Best”

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Everyone loves a champion.

Everyone wants to be a champion, and if you can’t be a champion, you want to meet a champion so you can get their scribbled signature or perhaps share a beer with them so you can tell your other non-champion friends that you did so.

We are fascinated by people at the top of their game, their craft, their industry, or even perhaps their zip code; and we want not only what they have, but we also want to know if they got it some other way than just merely having superior intellect, talent, athletic ability, or more cut-throat determination than 98% of humans on the planet.

This is basically why we have magazines (in addition to glossy pictures): So a witty writer with British trainers, Elvis Costello glasses, and three copies of “Annie Hall” at his house (one VHS, one DVD, and one Beta) can interview champions and ask the hard questions like “remember when you weren’t a champion, what was that like?” Basically, these espresso drinking, Joy Division loving writers exist only to try to make the epic sagas of our champions seem really interesting. This is also why these writers are all cynical little piss-ants that like Joy Division in the first place: because they spend their existence making champions seem interesting when most of the time they are not really that interesting.

Most of the time, they were just struck by some fateful or incredibly lucky 21.5 Gigawatts of electricity (a bolt of lightning for those who haven’t seen ‘Back to the Future’) and all of a sudden were deemed to be relevant by the masses. You have to look no further than neo-jazz superstar/trainwreck Amy Winehouse for that. She wrote an incredibly brilliant song about being a drunk singer whose record label wanted her to go to rehab, and then she got a ton of fame and her vices landed her no place other than rehab.

The piss-ant writers have called it “art imitating life”, but I call it a waste of talent as Winehouse will have the phrase “trainwreck singer” in front of her name just like certain actors have “Academy Award Winner or Nominee” tagged to the front of their names like it’s a tattoo. It’s true that Winehouse has an immense amount of talent, it’s just unfortunate that when the lightning struck, she cracked under the intense heat of the spotlight (or the intense heat of her crack pipe). Yet, Jessica Simpson will more than likely make three times as many records as Winehouse when all is said and done, and Simpson is essentially like a bustier Paris Hilton: people are still wondering why they are both relevant.

Some people are relevant simply for sleeping with people that we deem are relevant (see anyone’s trophy wife). Others are relevant because their parents were relevant, and others are relevant because they have the same last name as someone who used to be relevant.

These 2nd generation success stories are just not a good read for the hard working cynic who is simply trying to get their slice of the pie; as reading about someone who gained success in an industry where their parents or grandparents already reached the top is as much cathartic as it is anti-climactic.

Ooooh, you became a million dollar a year realtor when you started your career by having your father hand you a real estate company worth millions. Forgive me, if I’m not doing cartwheels and patting your back on your success. This is why people like rags to riches stories. Because they prove that good things can happen to good people who work hard and have talent, rather than just to people that are born into affluence.

The young lady that wrote the movie “Juno” is a perfect example of this. She used to be a stripper for goodness sakes, and she wrote this incredible movie about a satirical misfit teen who gets knocked up by her dorky classmate and gives the child up for adoption.

She (the former stripper, not the satirical preggers misfit) is now an Oscar winner. That’s the good stuff right there. The stuff that dreams are made of, the stuff that Joy Division loving writers enjoy writing about.

It aligns the cosmos I guess in some sort of way, proving that the good guy can occasionally win, and that good fortune is not just handed down from your rich ancestors, because quite frankly, it feels like that sometimes.

As I sat and watched the Oscars the other night, my mind went in all sorts of directions, but mostly I thought it was interesting how many French films won top honors. On a night that has for the last 80 years crowned the achievements of film in a James Lipton-like “scrumptulescent” award ceremony, the thing that I left with after watching the show was a very interesting contrast especially with the thoughts and times in this country.

A good chunk of the awards were won by French films, or by artists that were French (see Best Actress, makeup, set design, costumes, editing, etc). Yet the best movie, in a stunning irony, went to “There Will Be Blood”, a movie about an early American oil tycoon whose thirst for survival turned into a quest for wealth by any means. Is anyone laughing about that or is it just me?

In a related irony and a study done by local bartenders, 85% of people who adamantly hate French people simply because they are French, almost exclusively order Grey Goose Vodka. In a related irony that has nothing to do with ignorance, 85% of those people polled claimed not to know that they were drinking a French vodka, but gave themselves a free pass because it is considered by many people in their social circles to be the best.

They have to be the best, even if it means forgetting their ideals in order to be the best, or in this case, drink what they deem to be the best. And while they sip on what gives them satisfaction of what they feel makes them some sort of quasi-champion of this zip code they are as hypocritical as they are ignorant and/or arrogant.

I argue with a friend of mine who ends most arguments with “we are the greatest country ever and that’s why they hate us” mantra, even though I argue, usually to get his blood boiling to the point of near aneurysm, that we have been passed up in the fields of healthcare, education, and several other big areas, but thankfully, we still have top military spending in the world.

Though I agree that we are the best in most cases, that doesn’t free us from fixing the things that are less than perfect about us as Americans.

Ironically (especially if you think of the reasons why we dislike the French), I think we need to look first at our arrogance and our ignorance.

C’est la vie.

Email me at domspino@yahoo.com.

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