As you may know, the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) won the national championship in football last night (Roll Tide!!). And you may have heard that one of the announcers for the game, Brent Musburger (who is by no means young), raised eyebrows with some remarks about Bama quarterback A.J. McCarron's girlfriend. If you've ever watched football games on TV, you know they often show brief shots of people in the crowd who are interesting in one way or another: because they're wearing a crazy costume, because they're pretty women, or because they're related to a player or coach. Well, this young lady met those last two criteria, and Musburger's comments about her looks were a tad over-enthusiastic: he told his broadcasting partner, a former quarterback, that "you quarterbacks get all the good-looking women" and suggested that "If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with Pop." So you can have a girlfriend that beautiful.
I was mildly startled by the remarks, and thought he was overdoing it a bit; I would say it was "inappropriate" if that word simply meant what it says, and didn't now have such prune-faced connotations. And then the camera went back to the game and I forgot about it.
But this morning I discovered that it's a fairly big news story, with people joining in a great chorus of huffiness, including the usual feminists who seem to think they can, just by demanding that it be so, turn the world into a place where the star athlete and the beauty queen don't naturally end up with each other and attract the admiration and envy of everyone else. Here's a good example from the New York Times. This bit is something of a classic:
"It’s extraordinarily inappropriate to focus on an individual’s looks," said Sue Carter, a professor of journalism at Michigan State. "In this instance, the appearance of the quarterback’s girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game. It’s a major personal violation, and it’s so retrograde that it’s embarrassing. I think there’s a generational issue, but it’s incumbent on people practicing in these eras to keep up and this is not a norm."
Two things really strike me about this: the puritanism and the incipient totalitarianism. It really does seem sometimes that there is a certain constant proportion of puritanism in the American character, and that it never goes away, but just expresses itself in different forms. What is political correctness but puritanism seeking to induce a sense of shame about unwelcome thoughts of a socio-political nature?
And as for the totalitarianism: that's what's required if you want to control human nature itself to the extent that this professor wishes. When people like her say "inappropriate" there's a ferocity about it, as if they're frustrated that they can't report you to the police. And I don't doubt that if they ruled the world there would be police for such matters. There would certainly be very strict rules about allowing the camera to rest on the face of a pretty girl during the broadcast of a football game. Well, come to that, football itself probably wouldn't be allowed.
"...the appearance of the quarterback's girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game" is really rather funny. And by the way, isn't it inappropriate for the professor to suggest that Musburger's age is somehow a defect, causing him to be insensitive and retrograde? Call the cops!