Does ESPN Go Too Far With Politics?

When it comes to mixing politics with football, I prefer to keep things focused solely on the gridiron. I think tons of football fans can agree that besides from referring to Roger Goodell as the C-word (not Commish), we can check our political beliefs at the stadium gate when we’re spectating a game.

Many critics believe that ESPN has gone too far and is now experiencing a huge ratings drop thanks largely to the network’s perceived extreme liberal viewpoint. Political-fueled talking points on shows like First Take and tweets from ESPN personalities have recently been in the news for creating a wedge between the Mothership and many of their more conservative subscribers. Regardless of whether you lean towards the red or blue philosophy, this is annoying. Personally, when I’m watching a highlight reel, I prefer the emphasis to be on the game, the athletes, and the highlights and not on the anchor’s political feelings. But that’s just me. It’s fine to express one’s personal beliefs on the air; however, doing so can sometimes come at a price.

Which leads me to my second point. When expressing one’s personal beliefs on the air, be sure that everything lines up perfectly on your end. In politics or even in sports journalism, it’s easy to catch a person or in this case network with their pants down. In other words, it’s a slippery slope being self-righteous when things don’t add up perfectly. That’s why at FanTav, we celebrate political incorrectness with an array of WAG spreads, jokes in poor taste, and other jabs pandering to the peanut gallery. ESPN, however, prefers to hire accused murderers and women beaters and asks them to be the journalistic judge of the integrity of many current NFL stars. But I digress….

Perhaps you remember the song “All the Way Up” by the illustrious wordsmith and rap artist Fat Joe. The song was featured on promos for ESPN’s NFL Primetime and was also showcased in a ridiculous intro video for ESPN’s First Take (because when I see Steven A. Smith and Skip Bayless I think of them pumping iron and prepping for their show in an athletic way?). This song was featured often last preseason on the network to showcase their new, hipper, primetime football show and introduce some fresh faces to the broadcast alongside Boomer. You remember these ads…they had Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck, and Trent Dilfer imitating many of Berman’s iconic calls (like back, back, back, back). If you don’t you can probably Google the song title and ESPN and see it’s affiliation into various segments.

I always thought the song had a catchy chorus, so I researched it to learn more. Once I did I was a bit surprised by the song’s music video and lyrics. Sure this video and the lyrics are not showcased in the ESPN version of the song, but considering Disney is in fact a perceived family-oriented corporation I was surprised by the consistent use of the following themes.

Allow me to break down some of the more interesting music video elements that apparently Disney, ESPN, and their hit primetime football show endorse. Feel free to follow along with the music video on Youtube.

1) Drug Use

150223-molly-mdma_a8df16a6b7af34c818b0d846b40db9d5.nbcnews-fp-1240-520The music video literally starts by showing a day in the life of Ricky Williams….or a young lady hitting a vape in a club and exhaling. Perhaps she’s really just a hipster at heart that loves her flavored tobacco or maybe she’s higher than Jerry Garcia. I’ll let you decide. However, one of the more prominent lines repeated throughout the song that is featured in the first 30 seconds is the lyric, “Got bottles, got weed, got molly.” We don’t need to go too deep to interpret what this means beyond the surface level as there is nothing beyond that.  Later in the song we are informed that the female rapper has “gold chains, Himalayan Birk’ and cocaine.” Hey if Disney and ESPN want to endorse doing lines of snow white.. off of Snow White then that’s their prerogative. However, it seems a little inappropriate of a message considering the main jingle of this song is heard by millions of ESPN viewers. But anywho lets proceed.

2) Cultural Misappropriation

Screen+Shot+2017-01-16+at+2.34.05+PMPerhaps you’ve heard this term recently. It seems to have become quite the double standard in a lot of pop culture especially rap music. This music video showcases several dancing geisha girls dabbing and doing the nae nae. If that’s not strange enough, many of the dancers’ national origin doesn’t appear to be of actual Asian descent (although I could be wrong considering the layers of makeup they’re wearing and the few closeups). You could say that these are mostly dancers wearing “yellow face” as many Asian actors have referred to it recently, but I can’t say that for sure. Either way the dabbing in geisha outfits seems pretty culturally insensitive to me, but apparently Fat Joe has a few “tings” up his sleeve as he says himself in the song.

3) Misogyny

shutterstock_128676716-800x430This is a word we’ve heard often in the last few months as our own President is often reminded of his own past misogynist remarks. Well it should be no shock that a rap song would have some suggestive or offensive language regarding the ladies. Lets overlook the stripper poles, the random sexy dancing ice skater that seems to serve no real purpose in the video (besides the fact that she’s hot and wearing ice skates in a club), the geisha women doing the dab, and lets even ignore the fact this club has few female patrons at all (and only one that doesn’t resemble a prostitute). Instead lets focus on the lyrical breakdown by Fat Joe here: “Kicked the bitch out the room and gave her no breakfast/Had to stash the jewels, these bitches so reckless/Keep my hoes on cruise, I’m talkin’ naughty nothings.” Again this seems like quite the double standard of the Mothership considering all the recent messages supporting Women’s History Month and the Women’s March in Washington and other endeavors. Surely there’s a song that doesn’t have offensive lyrics like this directed at women that we could have had instead of this?

4) Random Black Lives Matter Message

151223132052-06-black-lives-matter-super-169I’ll start by saying that I have no issue with the great majority of BLM protests or any “peaceful” protesting movement. However, I do find it uncomfortable when you’re watching a rap video and roughly 2:30 into the song the record skips and you get a cameo from DJ Khaled stating that “they” (who could that be?) “want to finish us, they want us broke, they want us miserable.” I can’t imagine “they” would refer to the Disney execs that likely paid over one million dollars for the rights to use this song. DJ Khaled continues on to say “They don’t us don’t want us to win…they don’t want us to be blessed…they don’t want us all the way up” and then the music kicks back in. I’m all for challenging the Man (especially when his name is Roger), but the line “they want to finish us” is borderline suggesting a large faction of people (white) support the genocide of another race. This sounds a bit extreme….

Summary:

All-in-all at the end of the day ESPN wants a catchy song that will command the audiences attention for a short period of time. This isn’t the first time a song has been utilized for different purposes than it’s original intent (remember the Black Eyed Peas “Lets Get Retarded” which was tailored to “Lets Get It Started”?). Sure none of these lyrics or the video images are viewed by the ESPN watching public, so to a certain extent the network can wash its hands of any negatively perceived content in the song considering it’s not played directly on their network. However, it’s interesting that the network would pick a song with so much baggage to feature on several of their most watched programs.

At the end of the day, the Mothership will do as they please. They make up roughly 40% of Disney’s overall revenue. With that being said, featuring a song that glorifies drug use, promotes misogyny, showcases cultural misappropriation, and suggests in a veiled manner that white America wants to “finish” off minorities is a bit offensive to me.

That’s just my two cents.