Michael Sam’s announcement that he will be the subject of a multiple part documentary series on the Oprah Winfrey Network is drawing a growing chorus of criticism. That’s not really surprising. But it sure is aggravating. Sam is being told that he really ought to be focusing on football. He’s also being told that he’s hurting his “cause.” Additionally, numerous commentators have now expressed skepticism about whether “the kiss” was spontaneous or was a calculated attempt to lay the groundwork for Sam’s new money-making venture.
It’s fascinating that in a country whose major growth industry in recent years has been people cashing in on their celebrity, such squeamishness has developed because Michael Sam – (or as professional scold Jason Whitlock is now so cleverly referring to him, Michael $am) – might dare to cash in on his own.
I confess that I was unaware, until googling around while writing this blog post, that former Broncos and current Jets’ wide receiver Eric Decker and his wife, the country singer Jessie James, have a reality TV show – Eric & Jessie: Game On. No word yet from the commentariat on whether they’re hurting some cause or other.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, there were rumors that former ‘Bama quarterback AJ McCarron and his fiance, Katherine Webb – you may have heard of her – would soon be stars in their own reality TV show. While those rumors were apparently premature, it is expected that segments of their wedding this coming July will be broadcast. NFL teams clearly worry about all sorts of distractions and McCarron was, indeed, the subject of some whispers before the draft about whether he took football seriously enough.
Needless to say, though, he would not receive a fraction of the scrutiny that Sam is for being part of an effort to cash in on celebrity. That assumes that Sam is in it for the money. Sam himself has said that he hopes his documentary or reality TV show will make it easier for other gays to accept themselves. Regardless, maybe Sam’s stated rationale is, at least in part, self-serving. But even if it is, what’s really the beef here? That’s he’s just like most other red-blooded Americans, including every media creature now criticizing him, in his willingness to get some notoriety and make a quick buck?
Welcome to America.
Update: As but one sign of my vast influence, approximately thirteen seconds after I posted this, Sam and OWN announced that they would not move ahead with the planned series.
It’s all good.