Cross-posted at Her Campus.com.
*Special note: My interpretation of acting on the following quote is by writing about it, because it involves the idea that words are powerful. Instead of literally doing something as a result of this piece of advice, I wrote about about it in relation to a specific happening on Tuesday, April 12th.
“A word after a word after a word is power.” -Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood can teach Kobe Bryant a thing or two about the power of words. The famous literary force once wrote, “A word after a word after a word is power.” While it may initially seem like the two respective stars have little to nothing in common, they would probably be able to strike up a vivid conversation around this one idea in particular.
In a Laker game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, April 12th, referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul against Kobe Bryant. The guard reacted by cursing and muttered a homophobic comment, all for the cameras to capture on live, national television. The five-time NBA champ ponied up a $100,000 fine to the league and was publicly condemned by NBA commissioner, David Stern.
The age-old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” doesn’t exactly speak to the experiences of those who have been directly affected by the power of words. Bullying, teasing, and verbal abuse all incorporate the concept of negative word usage; the harmful meaning behind a few letters strung together creates a negative context for them to be released into the world.
The words expressed on Tuesday night, which won’t be repeated here, do not define who Kobe Bryant is as a professional athlete. It also doesn’t define him as a person. It does, however, affect how fans view their favorite all star and complicate the issue of human rights in popular culture. All because of one thoughtless moment and two toxic words.
Kobe Bryant’s anti gay remark is complicated by his role model status. Fame enables individuals in the spotlight to impact viewers professionally and personally; it comes with the territory of celebrity in American culture. It’s Kobe’s imperfections, however, that allow people to come to terms with his utter normalcy as opposed to being held on a celebrity pedestal. It’s the fact that these flaws are publicly displayed that requires Bryant to be extremely thoughtful with his word choice. Continue reading