Why the 2010-11 New York Jets are America’s Team.
If Superman represents the way America thinks of itself, and Batman is the way the world thinks of America, then the 2010-11 New York Jets represent what it means to be an American in the 21st century. Similar to pop culture, these Jets are a mirror to our society, a reflection of our lives, a microcosm of who we are, and they are unabashedly entertaining in being so (there’s nothing America loves more than escapist entertainment). You can belittle them all you want by labeling them a circus, but that just means you aren’t paying attention (Tune into any 24 hour news network. We already live in more of a circus than anything produced by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey). These Jets represent us; if you need further proof, just look closer (like, American Beauty closer).
It’s the word of the moment, but it’s been the word on our public conscious for over a year now. The word reached its fever pitch during the height of the health care “debate” and now its boiling point in the aftermath of the shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona. And amongst the aftermath, there were those Jets excessively celebrating last Sunday evening on national television after upsetting the Patriots and their female Tom Brady-impersonator of a QB. Without a touch of class and without a hint of regret, Bart Scott yelled boastfully, head coach Rex Ryan celebrated in the end zone with his team, and Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes did some flying maneuver throughout the field. The Jets won and they were going to let everyone know about it.
(Also don’t forget, earlier in the season, these same Jets were accused in another case of incivility. The allegations involved the harassment of a female reporter while she was working within the team’s locker room.)
Televised shouting matches, sexism, violent rhetoric, sexuality, opinionated, excessive, this is the America we all know because it’s the America seen on everyone’s TV. From Jersey Shore to Sarah Palin’s Alaska, incivility reigns supreme.
America has a strange addiction to reality television the same way Fat Albert had an addiction to being fat. It just doesn’t make sense. Or maybe it does. Before the start of the football season, these Jets were the featured team on HBO’s reality program, Hard Knocks. Like most reality television, this program was cartoonish. Unlike most reality television, this particular season of Hard Knocks was entirely engrossing (It’s not TV, its HBO finding the right team at the right time to present as the program’s subject). The entirety of the Jets-America metaphor hadn’t yet been shaped as Hard Knocks only presents the team’s preseason, but it became evident that these Jets were something to see. And like most reality television, America watched (HBO enjoyed the highest ratings ever for the 6-year-old program).
It’s no secret we Americans like to watch (ha!). And we like to watch ourselves, even outlandish caricatures of ourselves. We also like to share details about ourselves and in some cases overshare. It’s just the 21st century thing to do….
This isn’t about certain players’ Twitter accounts and the evolution of media and access of news/ information straight from the source (i.e. Darrelle Revis, Jets’ CB), although it could be. No, this is about an entire generation’s need to overexpose personal information. With Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, etc., we have the ability to choose which social networking platform we want to share personal information. With the addition of blogs and other membership websites, we share plenty. In total, we detail nearly every part of our lives for the internet. And, in some cases, we expose our foot fetishes as Jets head coach Rex Ryan has done. While the videos are weird (I only watched them in the name of research) and they do nothing to dispel the belief that the team is a circus, we live our lives in the public now. It’s our new reality.
This essay is in no way intended to stroke the enormous ego of New Yorkers. As they should know, “with great power comes great responsibility”. And, in all actuality, the Jets defense might be exposed this weekend by the Pittsburgh Steelers and their creepy rapist leader (Did I make the Ben Roethlisberger/ Julian Assange – defense/ foreign policy connections clear enough? How about now?)
Nevertheless, these Jets sit on the cusp of truly grabbing America’s attention with a win away from the Super Bowl, America’s largest entertainment stage. Clearly, these Jets might lose to their Pittsburgh Steelers counterparts this weekend (like America, some deficits might be too much to overcome. Get it??) and miss out on their Super Bowl goal. But as that crazy Jets superfan, Fireman Ed, leads the fans in their “J-E-T-S” rally, he wouldn’t be so crazy as to include a “U-S-A” chant in there as well.