The Ottumwa Courier

Opinion

February 19, 2013

Tattered images fall from grace

A fall from grace Part III: The final Chapter

OTTUMWA — The spectacular streak of light from a meteoroid, heated as it enters the planet’s atmosphere is called a meteor or “falling star.” The falling star that exploded over Russia’s Urals region last week was almost as blinding as Lance Armstrong’s fall.

Lately, we seem to have been having a meteor or “falling star” shower, with its dramatic display equaled by its sadness. If a meteoroid reaches the ground and survives impact ... or an Oprah interview ... then it is called a meteorite. We’ll see if an Armstrong meteorite survives the fall in public perception.

Oprah’s couch is waiting ...

A month ago I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger  and Mel Gibson on TV at the Golden Globes ceremonies, both trying to resurrect their careers. Their careers will probably never be the same after being two of the most powerful men in Hollywood.

Mel Gibson

Aka Mad Max


Gibson was rated just a few short years ago “the most powerful man in Hollywood.”  

The fall

But, then Mel was pulled over by police one night and went on a crazy anti-Semitic rant about “Jews being responsible for all the wars.” That’s not a real career booster in Hollywood. He’s also had allegations of domestic violence in a scorned relationship with Oksana Grigorieva, where she secretly recorded him during a “Mad Max-like” rant.

Maybe he wasn’t acting as much as we thought he was during his “Mad Max” and over-the-edge “Lethal Weapon” scenes.

His career doesn’t appear to have a chance to come back to any great degree. In a recent movie that flopped, a co-star of his was a puppet beaver.

Arnold

Rags to riches


Now Schwarzenegger was the top-paid actor and action hero in Hollywood for a time. His rags-to-riches story was unparalleled. Growing up with nothing in Austria, somehow getting to America, speaking broken English, he muscled into California, becoming the most iconic bodybuilder of all time.

Despite all the barriers to Hollywood with an awkward accent, huge body and no acting skills to start out with, Arnold had big visions that could overcome anything. Breaking in with “Conan,” Arnold began pumping out movies like “Terminator,” “Predator,” “True Lies” and “Twins.”

In the end, it wasn’t the striations in his triceps, an undefined cut in the deltoids or imperfection in any other muscle group that brought him down. He had meticulous attention to detail. His infidelity proved to be his Achilles’ heel.

The fall

Then the fall from grace. Arnold’s Hollywood, politician and bodybuilding womanizing ways must have never left his system. It was revealed in 2011 that he had fathered a son with the housekeeper 14 years earlier, and wife Maria Shriver was in the dark until she noticed a boy with a resemblance to Arnold. This wasn’t a fall from grace — this was a Luge ride right to the bottom. Maria deserves better, no question. She comes from a Kennedy family where the men are known for promiscuity that would make Hugh Hefner blush, so perhaps some red flags should have gone up when choosing Arnold. When the Kennedys got in trouble, an extraction team of lawyers and problem-solvers showed up that would rival SEAL Team Six. But, Arnold’s actions were reprehensible. It’s hard to see how he rehabilitates his image to any great degree. His latest movie comeback, “The Last Stand” just bombed on its release.

Tiger was a tiger

Adored, dominating


Tiger Woods is another one to fall from grace. Once clearly on pace to become the greatest golfer of all time, with jaw-dropping dominance over his competition, he appeared to have the perfect marriage, family, life. Adored by fans and the media, feared by his competitors, he was the highest-paid athlete in the world for several years.

Watch out for that fire hydrant and tree!

Then on Nov. 25, 2009, it came out that Woods had an extramarital affair with a New York City nightclub manager. Two days later, Woods had his Cadillac Escalade SUV collide with a fire hydrant and a tree. Following treatment for some facial lacerations and a ticket, he released a statement it was a private matter and credited his wife for helping him escape from the car while smashing out a window — with a golf club no less.

The dreaded pile on

After more than a dozen allegations of indiscretions, Woods held a press conference saying he was sorry and was getting help. His mom was in attendance. Never had Tiger Woods looked so small from the giant he used to be. His endorsements dried up.

Tiger has come back to some degree — TV ratings go up when he’s in contention. But, he’ll never approach the height of his public image before his fall from grace. His game and reputation faces a 100-stroke penalty to return to its previous dominance.

Ray Lewis’ image bounced back

Another case of a rehabilitated image: Ray Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers of all time, played his last game leading the Baltimore Ravens to a victory in this year’s Super Bowl.

His image was quite different a number of years ago. After a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta Jan. 31, 2000, Lewis and his crew got into a fight with another group, ending in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis and companions Joseph Sweeting and Reginald Oakley were questioned and later indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges. Charges were later dropped on Lewis despite a missing white suit he wore that night.

Lewis was shunned by Disney for its post-game commercial: The 2001 Super Bowl MVP wasn’t allowed to say to the camera, “We just won the Super Bowl, now I’m going to Disney World!” Disney doesn’t like double-murder charges. But now, Ray Lewis just signed a huge deal with ESPN, which is owned by Disney.

Ray Lewis rehabilitated himself, while the NFL’s Ryan Leaf and Art Schlichter’s unforgiving addictions keep them in prison. Tony Mandarich, Lawrence Phillips and Brian Bosworth disappeared into obscurity.

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