Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Why I think Caitlyn Jenner was a poor choice for the 2015 Arthur Ashe award

The transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn Jenner has been a very public story in the media and online. If you haven't seen the Vogue cover check it out here. In a previous blog post I talked about how the issue of transgender was becoming more prominent in mainstream news and the potential drawbacks of media coverage. In a previous blog post I talked about how transgender news stories were becoming more prominent in mainstream media and the potential drawbacks of this media coverage. Well Caitlyn Jenner's Vogue cover upped the ante. More conversations are happening and more people are talking. Recently, I've been following the backlash to ESPN for nominating Caitlyn Jenner for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Do I think what Caitlyn Jenner did is courageous? Yes. Do I think it's significant for pop and American culture? Yes. Are people who would have never uttered the word "transgender" now forced to talk about it? Yes, but does Caitlyn Jenner deserve the ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage Award for this celebratory revelation? I say, "No!" and I'm not alone. I find myself in the company of people like Bristol Palin and Conner Cruise (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's son) to name a few. I didn't think there would be an issue I would see eye to eye with Bristol Palin on. Go figure.

Here's ESPN's defense since the backlash:

“Bruce has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time but the ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn. She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.”

My biggest issue with this award is that ESPN appears to have made the conscious choice to cash in and exploit the media's curiosity of "transgender"  much like Caitlyn Jenner. Although this is her life and she's sharing it with the world, I can't help but feel it's a publicity tactic from the Kardashian playbook to maximize a controversial issue. Let's not forget how Kim Kardashian became a household name. It was her private sex tape with Ray Jay (songstress Brandy's younger less talented brother) that was secretly leaked. Did we ever find out who leaked it? Word is it was an inside job.

Bob Costas has been one of the most vocal critics to ESPN's choice online. Here's what he had to say in Cindy Boren's Washington post article:

“It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play — it’s a tabloid play,” the NBC anchor said Monday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found someone — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — who was much closer, actively involved in sports, who would’ve been deserving of what that award represents.”

This morning I listened to some insightful commentary from NPR's Frank Deford about this topic (it's not yet up on their site otherwise I would have included the hyperlink). He shared a poignant story that illustrated how many awards and award shows aren't about the most deserving recipient, instead they are ways for organizations and institutions to be opportunistic and promote themselves and go with a big name that will get publicity. Hmmm.

This year, I've read a few stories about gay, lesbian and transgendered athletes. While groups of us are more excepting to this lifestyle, many still don't believe these individuals have a place in the sports world or in the world period. As a result, these individuals suffer in silence. They are still in the midst of the struggle and marginalized in our society. They aren't on the cover of Vogue. I believe these athletes are champions in there own right. However, when Caitlyn Jenner walks the red carpet and accepts her award, how many of us will be thinking about other transgendered athletes? 

Do you agree or disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts.


Dawn Miller said...

I agree.

Dawn Miller said...

I agree.

Aaliyah Miller said...

Thanks Dawn.

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