The Weekly Media Monitor 01.22.04: Mick Foley On Howard Dean, American Idol And The Quarter-Life Crisis

Let’s get right to it:

Political/Wrestling News: Pro Wrestling Hardcore Legend Mick Foley Speaks Out On Howard Dean’s bizarre, WWE-esque Iowa Speech

In the media:

Verne Gay of Newsday interviewed Mick Foley about Howard Dean’s bizarre behavior following the surprising Iowa setback for his 2004 presidential campaign:

“Howard Dean? Howard Beale? Or Howard the duck? Who exactly was that guy on TV the other night – with rolled sleeves, pumping fists, unusual rhetorical flourishes (“aaaarrrrggghhhh!”) and a command of U.S. geography? (“Connecticut! … New York! … … … Ohio! … “)

And loud. Very loud.

In one of the most remarkable concession-non-concession speeches in recent U.S. political history, the former governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate gave supporters and viewers a performance Monday night that was both inspirational and riveting. But also – let’s just get this out of the way right now – strange.

In the process, he left this important question hanging: Did he lose or did he win? (And this one too: Is Dr. Dean running for president of the United States, for the part of suicidal anchorman Howard Beale in a remake of the movie “Network” or for commissioner of World Wrestling Entertainment.)

The experts are divided. “Man, it was a little too close to a wrestling speech for my taste,” said Smithtown’s Mick Foley, a best-selling author, pro wrestler and former commissioner of the (yes) World Wrestling Federation (as WWE was previously known). “If he had leveled with the people, saying, ‘I am disappointed [and] things are going to be tough down the home stretch … ‘ Instead, we got a full-fledged WWE wrestling promo and that’s not what I’m looking for in my president.”

He added that “it appeared to me like he was a guy who had lost his mind, and I don’t know if ‘president’ and ‘maniacal’ are supposed to be words that go hand in hand.”

Motivational experts, however, disagreed. “I thought his approach last night was very appropriate in the context,” said Jeff Keller, a motivational speaker based in Oyster Bay and author of “Attitude is Everything.” “Here’s a guy who suffered a crushing defeat and he has a base of support that’s largely young people and young people respond to energy.”

Seattle-based motivational expert Chris Widener, explains that Dean’s passion on Monday night could cut two ways: “If you position him as a more regal type it wouldn’t fly anyway [because] he’s the firebrand. You want him to come out and get fired up. He’s the one railing against the establishment.” George W. Bush, he adds, “would never have yelled like that because people would have thought he was off his rocker.” But “the downside of screaming,” says Widener, “is that it gets down to: The guy with the nuclear football is given to emotional tirades. We want him to be even-tempered and regal.”

What does the prince of passion have to say about all this? We speak, naturally, of Dick Vitale, veteran ESPN commentator and (of course) motivational speaker: “When you’re energetic, a lot of good things are going to happen,” he said in a phone interview. “I’ve seen it in my life.”

Credit: Newsday

Chris’ Commentary:

Allow me to begin by asking this one, simple question: Is this a man we can really trust with his hands on the nuclear button?

I didn’t think so.

In all seriousness, I believe that Mick Foley hit the nail right on the head when he compared Howard Dean’s speech in Iowa to that of a WWE promo. And, as much as I love John Cena, The Rock, Vince McMahon, or even Foley himself on the WWE stage, I too would not want someone that hot-headed and volatile as the leader of our nation.

Now, if only Mick can get himself back into game shape to challenge Randy Orton, rather than Howard Dean

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Entertainment News: American Idol Returns With Hilarity, Humiliation, High Ratings, and Heart

In the media:

The Associated Press reported that the third season of American Idol garnered the highest ratings for a television debut this season:

“LOS ANGELES – Fox’s “American Idol” hit impressively high ratings notes in its third season premiere.

The talent show drew 29 million viewers Monday, the best start for any series in the 2003-04 season, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures released Tuesday by Fox.

Fox also enjoyed a solid debut for “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance,” a reality series that debuted after “American Idol.” The new series was watched by 19.6 million viewers.

Final figures for both series, which helped Fox win the night among total viewers as well as advertiser-coveted younger ones, will be available Wednesday.

“American Idol,” which has produced three instant music stars in Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, was expected to provide a boost for the struggling network.

Gail Berman, Fox’s entertainment president, recently called the show Fox’s “engine” and said it’s as important to the network as “Friends” is to NBC or “Survivor” is to CBS.

Last May’s finale, in which Studdard narrowly beat out Aiken in nationwide voting, drew more than 38 million viewers.

This year, an estimated 80,000 aspiring stars applied to be on the show. Contestants are again being judged by Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell, with Ryan Seacrest back as host.

“My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” features a woman out to convince her family she’s serious about a questionable mate to win a prize. She’s unaware that her “fiance” is, in fact, an actor making the task as difficult as possible.”

Chris’ Commentary:

Since its inception, American Idol won me over with its combustible mix of kids working hard to rightfully achieve the ultimate American dream, juxtaposed with kids who wrongfully think they deserve to achieve the American dream. For every Kelly, Ruben, and Clay, there are thousands of others who fall flat on their faces in front of Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and yes, the quintessential music snob, Simon Cowell.

This season of Idol is no different than the previous two installments, except that Randy Jackson has lost 100 pounds, and all of the judges are filthy stinking rich from the show’s popularity. Personally, I have already made pre-judgments about potential top ten contestants, laughed my ass off at a plethora of god-awful performances, and felt a connection with one competitor who I know I would vote for every week should I get the chance. (Watch out for Scooter Girl!)

I am glad to see that in this day and age of here-today, gone-tomorrow reality shows, there are at least a couple that will follow the path to long-term success and marketability initially paved by The Real World, rather than the one of overkill that ate up Joe Millionaire.

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Chris’ Wild Card Commentary:

The Countdown Continues: Christopher B’s Top Ten Live Journal Posts of All-Time

Entry #9: Nine Months Removed … The Quarter-Life Crisis, Part 1

Posted: September 3, 2002

Yup, that’s right. I left Binghamton for good on November 22, 2002. I was filled with uncertainty, mad at myself for dropping the ball and scared that I will never find my way. Nine months later, I still feel all of those three things bubbling inside me.

I’ve heard a lot lately about “the quarter-life crisis,” a new phenomenon that usually affects people in their early to mid-20s for the first three to five years after college ends. I can’t disagree with the fact that I feel like I am in a quarter-life funk of sorts, and that perhaps college life was too good.

I mean, think about it. In college, especially if you go away like I did, you basically make your own schedule, live away from home without any actual real-world responsibilities (especially on the financial side of things) and live in close proximity to hundreds if not thousands of people your age. In college, people experiment with such a wide variety of things, ranging from the obvious (drugs, which I never did but definitely saw around me) to the rare (doing free format radio is something not many get to experience, and I was so lucky to be afforded that opportunity) … and then suddenly, it ends.

What happens to us after college is such a big slap in the face. There isn’t really that long of a grace period before the severe reality check takes place. We go from late night conversations and live by our own rules lifestyles to, for the most part, jobs we never saw ourselves in and moving back in with our parents because we realize that the seemingly limitless “money tree” was actually a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Education that requires monthly watering in order to keep ourselves afloat in the post-university years. Of course, our biweekly/twice a month paychecks (if we’re even lucky enough to even get a job after receiving an increasingly pointless degree) get drained from all different resources that we just never really put too much thought into when we were skipping class to hang out and play frisbee on a crisp September day or on the air every Tuesday at 10 pm sharp making people laugh, or at least having fun trying to make people laugh.

The worst part about post-college life, and the key driver of the quarter-life crisis, is that you can’t go back. There is no regression allowed following graduation, and reflection all-too-often gets too wrapped up in photo albums that you can’t find in your bedroom because all of the cool stuff you collected in four years is piled up in your closet, leaving the rest of your space outside for manila folders filled with blank envelopes, stamps and loan payment forms. Gone are the lava lamps and the blacklight posters, the half-open cereal boxes and the 12-packs of Coke you share with friends who crash on your floor. Instead, beige becomes the color of necessity, and the Snooze button your only roommate.

After college, the only thing you write by hand is your signature on the right-hand side of your checks, and computers that gave you Napster and countdowns to when the Olsen Twins become legal morph into just another mechanism for your bosses to find you and friends to ignore your calls. Unlimited Internet access is there more for creating additional hapless work from a respective employer than it is to kill an hour by blasting party songs before hitting the off-campus bars.

The quarter-life crisis is also driven by cover letters and resumes. At first, the process of putting together pitches to potential employers seems promising and even exciting. This is because when you come fresh out of college, you don’t realize how hard it is to get ANY job, let alone get the one you actually want to have. Desperation starts to seep through your idealistic exterior usually around the time you go on your first interview and realize that you, my friend, are not the only one being interviewed for the position, and in some cases, you’re not even the only one being interviewed at the same time. So you emerge from your group interview filled with six people more qualified than you still thinking you have a chance to get hired because the managers promised that there was more than one position to be filled. You go home feeling pretty good on the outside, but inside you realize that it might be time to either start thinking about Graduate School even though you’re burned out from academia, or, conversely, start looking for just about anything that pays higher than slave wages.

With Sunday’s paper comes a bevy of new opportunities, until you realize that you are not an Accountant and have no idea what a Medical Biller is. You circle the Advertising jobs that say flashy things like “Sports Careers!” or, my personal favorite, “NOW HIRING ALL POSITIONS. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. EARN $400-$600/wk.” So you get your hopes up once again only to realize after a day of sitting in a 90 degree room with a full suit on that the job is a commission-based only position that gives you the exciting chance to sell cutlery door-to-door. You go back to the good ol’ classifieds and find that out of the 3,300 job openings posted, you are either not qualified or, even worse, that you have no interest whatsoever in learning how to sell insurance or drive around a senior citizen’s neighborhood to do his/her grocery shopping, wipe their asses and then sing them to sleep at 4:00 p.m. if the pain-killers don’t kick in right away. Nothing against helping senior citizens, it’s just you didn’t go to college and get a degree (barring social workers, of course) to perform tasks that you will probably have to do for your parents in 20 or so years anyway.

After the first few months of looking for jobs and using the last of your graduation money to keep up with bill payments, finally, something breaks your way. That’s right, someone has decided to give you a job, and regardless of the low salary, the lack of growth opportunities and the lack of a benefits program, you agree to take the job with a hand-shake and a huge smile.

You then say to yourself, “I guess I’ll have to learn the cutlery business, after all.”

-Post your replies to this post here. The next installment of the quarter-life crisis series will look at sex, relationships and love after college life ends.

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As always, you can drop me a line or two about this column or anything else in the world of current events and popular culture by emailing chris411wrestling@yahoo.com.

That’s all for now PEACE.

-Chris Biscuiti

Chris Biscuiti is also a columnist for the 411mania wrestling zone and for moodspins.