hard to be Elvis,
no one did fame like that, or
could do it for him
I came across a review of a new book on the life of Elvis.
The reviewer writes, “It was hard to be Elvis, no one had done fame like that before, and no one else could do it for him. He was trying to function within his reality.”
The author is trying to make the point that drugs, while playing a part, did not kill Mr. Presley as much has his bad family health history did.
The author also makes the point, “that Presley also felt responsible for his family (as many as 10 members lived with him at Graceland), his band and the Memphis Mafia – the courtiers who surrounded him. “By the time he’s touring again in the 70s, he was providing for more than 100 people. He says, ‘I’m sick, I don’t feel good, but I can’t stop because everybody is relying on me’.”
I was struck by two things.
One, that he felt the ‘responsibility’ for almost 100 people.
Two, that “no one had done fame like that before, and no one else could do it for him.”
I have to wonder how long Mr. Presley would have lasted in the age of social media.
It got me to thinking about the athlete’s today who beyond the responsibility for the their teammates and family are also expected to take on the weight of the world and to voice meaningful deep thoughts on any and all subjects far beyond the comprehension of most anyone.
And if any deep thoughts are expressed or even if there are not and maybe more if they are not expressed, the athlete is slammed from all directions with righteous demands for explanations, clarifications or retractions.
And right there is a problem.
Meaningful, deep thoughts on any subject are requested and expected at any time, all the time.
The concept of the post game media tent should terrify any person with half a brain.
The plan that puts another person in front of 100 or more reporters, all of whom have a deadline of 10 minutes ago and an assignment to produce copy that will get online clicks so the reporters ask about anything is a plan to make anyone go gaga in less time than any single Elvis 45 record.
And the world asks how come these athletes get ‘twisties’?
How come these athletes don’t want to talk to us?
How come these athletes don’t want to compete?
I am reminded of the great New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio.
It was said of Mr. DiMaggio that he played baseball as if every game was the 7th game of the World Series.
It was the only way he knew how to play.
Asked about this once, Mr. DiMaggio said that what he wanted to know is his heart was that if there was a person in the stands and this would be the only game that person would ever see, then Mr. DiMaggio wanted that person to know they had seen the best player of all time.
There is a great story of Marilyn Monroe coming back from a USO tour of Korea and saying to Mr. DiMaggio, “Can you imagine it? 10,000 people screaming your name?”
Mr. DiMaggio DID NOT play baseball in the age of social media.
Mr. DiMaggio played in an era of baseball writing that bought into the story of baseball and America as much as anyone.
Mr. DiMaggio played in an era of baseball writers who may have been terrified of getting on the bad side of Mr. DiMaggio and if that was they case, they was no reason that that reporter should cover the New York Yankee’s any more.
Mr. DiMaggio could go out to the ball park everyday and concentrate on being the best ball player ever because that was all anyone expected of him.
Mr. DiMaggio was not asked about opinion polls or global warming or EVER about his girl friend then wife then friend then lady-whose-grave-got-flowers-4-times a week.
It would be interesting to ask today’s athletes if might want to have the media relationship and expectations that Mr. DiMaggio enjoyed.
I doubt as a player Mr. DiMaggio ever even expressed a political statement.
He was just a ball player for crying out loud when you get right down to it.
Now, Mickey Mantle, well he DID express a political opinion once.
New York Yankee 2nd Baseman Bobby Richardson ran for Congress after retiring from baseball.
At a rally Mr. Richardson showed up with a bunch of ex Yankee teammates including Mickey Mantle.
One by one each of these one time team mates of Mr. Richardson got up and extolled the benefits of electing their friend to Congress.
Then Mickey Mantle got up, walked to the mic with the crowd cheering and cheering.
“Folks,” said Mickey Mantle, “I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t vote for Bobby Richardson for dog catcher.”
But I digress.
It is hard to be in the spotlight.
I don’t know who would choose to be today.
It was hard to be Elvis, no one had done fame like that before, and no one else could do it for him.
He was trying to function within his reality.
It is hard to be anyone today.
No one has done our life today like we are doing it.
No one else can do it for us.