I saw a ‘story’ this morning about how ESPN apologized for Brent Musburger’s comments during the National College Championship game the other night. Having watched the game, I couldn’t remember anything controversial and wondered what I missed. As it turns out, nothing.
In a blowout game where little was new or fresh or unpredictable on the field, he made the (horror of horrors!) mistake of saying a QB’s beauty pageant winner girlfriend was… beautiful. He joked that boys should start throwing a ball around because ‘quarterbacks get the pretty girls”. “Amazing,” I thought, “It must be a slow news week that anyone is trying to make a story out of this.” Especially because, as it turns out, she was not insulted at all. She took it as the compliment it was meant to be. He was not rude. He did not call her ‘hot’, or ‘sexy’. Nothing sexual at all. He simply made, in this day and age, the ‘mistake’ of calling a beautiful young woman who won beauty contests a beautiful woman.
Someone who’s opinions I respect greatly disagrees. I hadn’t even thought of writing a blog post on this issue until I read her comments on her blog and was, frankly, amazed. I still can’t believe anyone I know thinks this is an issue. Anyway, read her post here. She is bright, funny, well written, and we agree quite a bit. Not this time though
This was my response to her post: “…I don’t even get this story. They didn’t make fun of her. They weren’t rude. They briefly (albeit excitedly) spoke of how attractive she was. That is wrong now? She is Miss Alabama and can’t be called attractive without a formal apology statement from the network and the commentator getting in trouble? It says a lot about our culture that a very attractive woman is called out as being attractive? One who has been in, and won, beauty pageants? I think it says a lot about our culture that this is a story or that anyone is upset a man called an attractive woman attractive. You even called her gorgeous. He didn’t call her hot or sexy or anything rude. I think it’s a shame that even an obvious compliment is now reason for someone to take offense. Heck, even she was flattered and thinks its nonsense. You made a comparison about a woman reporter talking about Tom Brady’s looks. They do all the time! And they talk about how he dated and married a model. No one made a federal case out of that though. In this case, the commentator / reporter wasn’t discussing her career and got sidetracked by her looks. She was not the story. He was discussing the quarterback and how he got such an attractive (beauty queen) girlfriend. You say its a shame he couldn’t see past that… why? All he did was see her. He wasn’t interviewing her or talking about her life. Why is it bad to say a pretty woman is pretty? Since when is that insulting?
You can’t possibly think that her looks and his soon-to-be-pro-quarterback-position and current ‘job’ as quarterback of the number one team in the nation aren’t factors. Do you think if she were plain he would have asked her out? Do you think she goes out with the computer nerds? I’m not saying they both aren’t wonderful people, but those factors clearly were in play and attractions. None of which has anything to do with a sports commentator pointing out how beautiful she was. He didn’t say that was why the QB was dating her. He simply gushed over her and did so respectfully. …”
Actresses are called out for being attractive all the time. Kate Middleton is, frequently. On the flip side, Tom Brady (the Patriots’ QB) is gushed over by women. All accepted (as they should be). What is different here? This was not a case of her accomplishments being ignored to speak of how pretty she is. She was sitting in the stands and a comment was made that she was attractive, the implied joke being that he was lucky to have her and wouldn’t if he were not such a great quarterback.
While I’m sure that her looks and his talent are into why they are staying together, is it wrong if that is what initially made each other take notice? Really? Are we, as a society, going to try to pretend that looks don’t matter at all any more? Musburger did not say she was ‘only a pretty face’ or anything like that. He complimented her. Lighten up, people.
Note: In writing this and filling in the links, I noticed that her parent’s think Musburger should be cut some slack and didn’t think it was insulting, either.