Sunday, June 7, 2015

Reality Show Star Jenner Steals Courage Award from Real Heroes

ESPN has damaged the credibility of the Arthur Ashe "ESPY" Courage Award by planning to give the award to reality show actor Bruce Jenner for what appears to be nothing more than an elaborate publicity stunt.  Jenner claims he's now a female character called "Caitlyn" but admits he hasn't had, and doesn't plan to have,  an operation to change his body from male to female.   As far as I'm concerned a person with a male anatomy, or at least a close approximation, should be referred to as "he".  A  person with a female anatomy should be referred to as "she". 

I might let him get away with this farce if there weren't much better qualified candidates for the award.   The late Lauren Hill is one such candidate.    Even though cancer had given her a death sentence, she continued to play college basketball as long as she was able to so she could to help her team and she could  raise money to fight cancer so others might not have to go through what she was going through.  Hill reminds me of one of my childhood heroes, Lou Gehrig, who continued to play baseball during the early stage of ALS.   Hill was a real hero who gained nothing from her heroism except personal satisfaction for having done something to help others.   The Arthur Ashe award would mean a lot to Hill's parents because it would show that others recognize the value of Hill's sacrifice.

Sgt. Noah Galloway is another qualified candidate.  Galloway literally gave an arm and a leg for his country in Iraq as the result of an encounter with an IED explosive device.  He didn't let his injuries stop him.  He became a motivational speaker and finished third on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars".

Jenner is an actor who has already benefited from portrayal of the character called Caitlyn by being the subject of a Vanity Fair article.   American male actors have been playing female characters for generations.  Tom Hanks started his career playing a woman on the tv series "Bosom Buddies".  Comics Milton Berle and Flip Wilson frequently played female characters on their television shows.   There is no legitimate reason for giving Jenner an award for courage when he's doing something actors often do in their careers.  He may be playing the character for longer periods of time than other actors have, but then they weren't doing reality shows like Jenner does.  The Arthur Ashe award is unlikely to mean anything more to Jenner than something he can use in ads to get people to watch his character.

I was going to urge a boycott of  ESPN but how would anyone know if the boycott was in place?   A boycott of ESPN's owner the Disney corporation could be effective. We should boycott 'Disney if it doesn't agree to give the award to Hill or some other worthy recipient.  We should also urge Disney to replace the current group that chooses the recipient of the award with people who themselves have had to deal with adversity either directly or indirectly through family members.  People might also call their local ABC affiliated station to protest.

We should also request the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to investigate the highly questionable circumstances of the award to Jenner.   He announces on ABC's "20/20" in April that he thinks of himself as a woman and then two months later we're told Jenner will get the Arthur Ashe award and there is no runner up.    It's hard for me to believe that they would give the award to Jenner without being paid off by Jenner.  At best the whole thing sounds like an elaborate publicity stunt in which ABC was a active participant.

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