Recently the controversy regarding Michael Vick has reached new heights. Nike has re-endorsed the NFL player who was involved in dog fighting and the slaughter of under performers by means such as hanging. It has spurred a fury of boycott campaigns.
Four years ago, it was speculated that gambling charges alone would result in a life time ban with the NFL. How quickly things change. Rebounding from bankruptcy, Vick is actively playing in the NFL and has aspirations of coaching. He was recognized as Subway restaurant’s athlete of the year at the BET awards. And now, National Geographic’s celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan has come out publicly stating Vick should be given a second chance.
Vick’s supporters preach forgiveness. I must confess that I have struggled with this notion. On one hand, I believe in being positive and I believe in forgiveness. Yet, I find this situation offensive.
It wasn’t until the tragic death of Amy Winehouse that I finally understood and reconciled my distaste. Winehouse rose to fame with astronomical musical potential. It goes without saying that there likely were plenty of people who cashed in. It is just as likely that plenty of people saw the downward spiral to her death. There she was, making music and being promoted until she simply could not perform anymore.
Was there anyone who said, “I’m not making money off of Amy because it’s morally wrong?” Was there a time when the PR machines stopped long enough to think of Amy the person rather than Amy the commodity?
PR machines present celebrities in a marketable light. Messes are cleaned up and public confidence is restored. I suspect that the call to forgive Vick is the spit, buff and polishing of a cash cow. Like Winehouse, the opportunity to make money takes precedence above all else.
There lies the epiphany. I understand that PR firms have a place in our society. I still do believe in forgiveness.
Personally, I don’t know Mike Vick and probably never will. I only know the media image that has been carefully crafted for him. PR firms have become the body guards of cyber space.
I can feel empathy for Vick. Perhaps he came from a violent past and has demons. Maybe he’s been hit one too many times in the head playing football. Former athletes are just coming out with personal stories of brain injuries and the resulting erratic and violent behavior.
While I can forgive, I will NOT forget. Individuals with a violent past are not an example I want my son to see. A short stint in rehab or house arrest is not, in my opinion, going to banish the demons of violence. As for aspirations of coaching, keep him away from my child. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It’s about trust.
My rage lies with the corporations and PR firms that come into play. While the going is good, they get on the monetary gravy train. They show us the images and stories that tap into our pocket books. Corporate decision making is tied to public opinion polls and consumer spending patterns. It’s stunning how quickly they put aside the past, the truth and evidence when there’s money to be made.
Like many others I am boycotting organizations that promote the buff, spit and polishing of Mike Vick.
In all honesty, I haven’t watched National Geographic since researching the Piltdown man. I have however been a loyal Nike consumer since high school. I’ll burn the pair I have in effigy when it’s time to replace them.
I do wonder if Subway knew who the award recipient would be. I don’t know. But I think I’ll drive to Quiznos. They are donating money to animal welfare organizations.
Now will Cesar Millan’s thumbs up to “second chances” clean the tarnish off of Mick Vick’s reputation? That certainly must have been a PR agent’s coup. I can see them doing a happy dance around the office the moment they realized a celebrity dog trainer was jumping in on the gravy train.
Or is this a situation of, “When you lie with dogs you get up with fleas”? You can bet an opinion poll preceded any comments tied to Mick Vick.
Will the public buy into the PR machine? I, for one, am not. Not now – not tomorrow – and not the day after that. I can forgive without forgetting. I can be positive without trusting someone with a proven track record of violence.