THE UNSPOKEN CONTRACT …

One hundred years ago, the ability to throw something sixty yards would’ve been a mildly amusing talent to have in the brickyard, on lunch breaks. The guys could all gather round and bet on how far you could chuck this or that for a few minutes. But then the whistle would blow and you’d all have to get back to work. Real work.

Speedy legs would’ve come in handy if you were in the delivery business or had to get a message to the next farm over, three miles away. And a strong back would’ve guaranteed you pretty much nothing but a first string position on the hay bailing detail.

But there was no mechanism or institution in place that would allow you to earn millions of dollars for any of those “talents.” Keep in mind, this was true for anyone of ANY race.

I think about this all the time. Because my own little quirk – the ability to write and sing songs – would’ve basically relegated me to performing on the front porch, for family members and hired hands, after the work day. Or being a street performer, nodding and smiling to passing tippers, or working in some sort of Vaudeville show. I think about this a lot because …well …the people in my profession are almost back to doing JUST THAT.

See, it doesn’t take long for an ivory tower to implode and for someone with “luxury talents” to end up scraping by any way they can. People who throw and catch balls for living should think about that every once in a while.

These days, we are all fortunate enough to live in a “leisure society.” We don’t have to grow or kill our own food anymore. We don’t have to protect our homes with shotguns. We are pretty much safe from weather and wild animals. We live in climate controlled pods, where we can watch the entire world through electronic windows. We have free time and disposable income. So, we engage in as many leisure activities as we do vital ones. And we’ve made those activities big business.

This is unprecedented in human history. Remember that. These leisure activities have ushered into existence the super star artist, entertainer and athlete. We’ve decided we’re okay with these people becoming a type of royalty. But there’s an unspoken contract between super stars and the general public.

The public agrees to cheer you on and never complain about your absolute privilege. They will forgive you for stupidity, crass behavior, infidelity, addiction or professional missteps. But you have to live up to YOUR end of the bargain …

See, the elephant in the room is that YOU were born with perfect facial symmetry or uncanny talent or physical superiority or amazing hand-eye coordination or something special that THEY do not posses and never will. THEY have had to come to grips with being average and somewhere in the middle. And while YOU are experiencing unqualified and unprecedented pampering, THEY are slugging it out in cubicles and behind check-out stands and in uber cars and on job sites and in barracks.

And as long as you don’t break the trust (the contract) between YOU and THEM, they will gladly surrender good portions of their income to YOU in exchange for getting to watch, listen to or experience something they will never achieve. They will dream through you and win through you soar through you and sing through you and dance through you and live miracles through you.

All YOU have to do is be great at your thing, acknowledge that you understand how fortunate you are to have such a rare  opportunity, acknowledge the system and experiment (meaning, the COUNTRY) that allows you to participate in this activity is special and last (but certainly not least) you have to fully implement the “illusion clause.”

The “Illusion Clause” (in the unspoken contract), stipulates that you at least pretend that you like the people allowing you this opportunity. You smile at them, give back to their communities and basically make them believe that if circumstances were different, you would probably hang out with them and be their friend.

I’m always a fan of super stars who can implement this clause effortlessly. It’s why I was such a Peyton Manning fan. I know, in real life, we’re not ever gonna hang out. But I always thought we could be bros if he just met me. As a performer, I live on the other side of this contract as well and I know this is not always true. No, seriously …you’re NOT gonna be BFFs with Justin Timberlake. He will call security on you without missing a beat. But when you see him perform, he’s living up to his part of the unspoken contract and at least making you THINK you guys are besties.

The NFL has probably lost me as a fan forever. The unspoken contract between us has been broken. See, I support the country and the troops and I stand for the flag and the pledge and the anthem. And I have very deep reasons why I do those things. But I now know that a lot of those players out there don’t really like or respect me. They don’t care anything about me. And that’s all totally fine. But it seems they still want my support and attention. The NFL has asked for the same thing. But that’s where the unspoken contract gets interesting …

Look, I’m not naive enough to think that every person on a field or a stage or a screen agrees with all my points of view on everything. But I want them to at least give me the illusion of respect for supporting their talent. If you come see me perform, you can believe I appreciate you and I honor you with my best effort. I don’t take it lightly. I understand how many choices you have, how hard you work for your money (that you’re giving to me) and how lucky I am to be there.

In short …I respect the unspoken contract.

People are tired. They’re just tired of constantly being told they’re racists when they have no idea what they’ve done wrong. They’re trying to keep the mortgage paid and get the kids through school and have enough money for Christmas presents and keep the cars out of the shop and lose that extra fifteen pounds and afford health insurance and maybe even take the family to a beach somewhere once a year. They love America, they love the flag, they support the troops and they are racking their brains to figure out what they can do to remedy the problem these rich, physical specimens seem to have with the country. If someone would just tell them what to do, most of them would gladly do it. But a blatant disrespect of something their grandpas and uncles and fathers and brothers fought and died for …is a breach of the unspoken contract.

I offer a friendly word to all the entertainers and athletes (AND sports institutions) who feel the need to continually berate their audience: One day all those “regular” people might discover that they are just fine without your specialized talent. And they might get tired of funding your movies and TV shows and concerts with their hard earned money or your stadiums with their inflated tax dollars. And you could find yourself throwing things around the brick yard …on lunch breaks.

R

68 thoughts on “THE UNSPOKEN CONTRACT …

  1. Well said! Well said! This is how I feel and you’ve broken it down that any ‘entertainer’ should be able to understand how we ‘average’ folk feel about their continued disrespect for those who truly sacrifice. Thank you, Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Well said, Sir. Just yesterday I cancelled my Direct TV Sunday Ticket, and have sworn off watching the only team I could not bear to stop watching – The New England PATRIOTS. PATRIOTS. Imagine that. They, with the special name, had ten players kneel for the National anthem. Football is the one sport I truly enjoy watching. But I have to send a message to them somewhere. It’s the only way I have of showing my dispaleasure for the NFL’s knuckleheads who break that ‘unspoken contract’. I am also showing my displeasure with Hollywood royalty by refusing to pay to see their work. I’ll get by. I imagine, so will they. But they will do so without MY money.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I think you really nailed it. Social media has given us the illusion that we are BFFs with celebrities of all forms. People are realizing that most of them have Bot accounts that like and retweet for them. They share their lives and people think that they might be special too because they follow along.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well spoken, Reggie. I long ago quit going to movies and rarely watch movies in any format. The NFL boycott is tougher, but I’m there. Disposable income to be entertained. That nails it. I won’t pay for political views! Get enough political views thrust upon me to start paying for them!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. So sad that men who are risking their careers to speak for the oppressed, the voiceless, and the downtrodden are basically being told by white folk “Do what we tell you to and shut your mouth, boy!” Slavery has merely changed forms. And the fact that people who claim Christ’s name are leading the charge is unbelievable to me. Praying that the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to the harm you are inflicting on millions of your black brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree. Sorry if this is inconvenient, Regie, but I have to wonder. You’re identifying with them as a performer for most of this, but what you’re really saying is that they should be happy with their station, sit down, and shut up. Would you consider doing the same?

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s not what I’m saying. As a performer myself, I respect my audience and would never consider offending them, THEN asking them to sit through a show and pay me. I use my blog site to voice my opinions and I use my voting card to affect change. But when I walk on stage I want you to know that no matter who you are, you are important to me and I respect you for being there. We can discuss our differences in other forums.

        Liked by 6 people

    • Black men make millions playing a sport, rapping a song…becoming President of the United States. What type of plantation allows their “slaves” to rise to such levels? These examples of professions, while not obtainable by most Americans (regardless of skin tone), still argue against your millions being inflicted with harm by the white man. What is the NFL protest accomplishing that will change the plight of those in the inner city? If you believe Police on Black crime is the problem of the inner city then you aren’t paying attention. Maybe you should start to address the black on black crime that runs rampant in the large, democratic run, inner cities. Pointy the finger at “whitey” may make you feel relevant and help ease your white guilt but it does nothing to fix the problem. Trampling on the flag and country that gives you the rights to express yourself in this manner that many of us find offensive is not going to win you support…in fact, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s just making the divide even greater.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Actually, you missed the part where he said that we all want to know what we can do to help change it. No one is saying “do what we tell you to and shut your mouth”. They are saying tell us how we can help make a change and we will stand beside you and help but don’t simply insult us and disrespect what we believe in and not show us a way we can do anything to change it. Because if you aren’t willing to show us what we can do about it, if all you are willing to do is protest while you are on the job (something most
      Americans would get fired for), it’s hard for us to really see your protest as real and something you really want to change. Right now, all it looks like is you are doing something for the publicity and not because you really want to see change. But if you were to tell us what we can do differently, tell us how we can make this change, most people would be willing to.

      Liked by 7 people

    • I don’t care what color they are. Stop bringing race into this. That, sir, it what perpetuates racism. ANYONE, and yes I mean ANYONE, disrespecting the flag in that type of venue and at that particular timing deserves to be fired. It is wrong of them to use their visibility in this way. What would happen to you if you stood on your desk at work and declared your personal views to the “world”? It’s all a matter of wrong place, wrong time. They can go use their perceived celebrity status in their personal time. A protest of any kind does NOTHING to change circumstances of those being oppressed. Instead why don’t they put their paycheck where it will do some good. That, sir, is the way to change hearts to respect.

      Liked by 5 people

    • As someone who was raised by civil rights activists (my grandfather stood against the KKK in the 50’s – taking his very LIFE in his hands, and my father marched in civil rights marches. I have several different races living under my own roof) I take great issue with your premise that I am harming anyone of any race. I’m simply saying that a lot of people in this country are post racial and believe in equality for all races, nationalities, colors and creeds. But they also love the country and respect the flag as a symbol of THAT VERY belief. Disrespecting that symbol actually sends a message to them that the person protesting actually doesn’t like the country itself because its very foundations are built on a crime. All of that is fine. Everyone has a right to whatever opinion and protest they choose. But when that person THEN asks everyone to just act like nothing happened and let’s “play ball.” Oh and by the way – give me a new contract so I can participate in said crime – it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. One last thing …I don’t have much patience for Jesus Juking. I’ve always been pretty up front about my not giving a shit about Christianity or what christians think. I try to follow Jesus. Most days I suck at it. Some days I don’t even care if I suck at it. And I especially don’t care what other humans think about how I do it or how I don’t do it.

      Cheers,
      R

      Liked by 3 people

    • We all have equal rights under the law. Minorities in America are neither oppressed nor are they voiceless. They are protected and given extra opportunities to improve their chances for success and prosperity. It is time for all Americans to stand together and not listen to the hard left who are race-baiting for a political strategy.

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    • They really aren’t risking thier careers at a dangerous level. No one will be fired, and even if the ratings and money dwindle the owners and managers won’t risk thier salary. And even now for by some rare situation the NFL dissolves, well I guess the interest just wasn’t there. If you want to help the voiceless, oppressed then act don’t just speak. The NFL is doing a media stunt , it isn’t producing better education, feeding more people, sitting with drug addicts. They can stand or not stand it , it does nothing but stir a pot and turn us against each other in debate and division. (and mind you the President stirred as well,when he also had greater job responsibilities) Jesus asks us to love one another and he showed us how. He gave, not performed. He sacrificed , didn’t covet an audience. Didn’t seek a spotlight , He just poured out Himself so much it changed everything for others.

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  6. I wish I could staple this to every forehead in the NFL and quite a few outside of it. The maddening part is that everyone I know would do anything to change the “oppression”. But I haven’t heard one complainer say what it is they want. Other than notoriety. The ratio of complaining to actual effort to improve problems is staggeringly unbalanced. Russell Wilson (Seahawks QB) said last year “I don’t stand & put my hand over my heart in a statement about what’s wrong with the country, but in affirmation of what is right”. The guy doesn’t “pose”, he actually actively works to improve what he sees is wrong. I’m done with the “posers”. Amen.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Colin has this to say: “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.” He is also donating $1 million to charities that help children and veterans, among others. It’s easier to criticize the made-up person that hates America and is selfish than it is to criticize the actual people who are literally putting their careers at risk to speak up for those with no voice. Peace.

      Liked by 3 people

      • The donation is great and a high percentage of his salary I’m sure. But we donate a high percentage of ours as well,plus multiple hours of our time , home, and talents. The protest itself isn’t going to solve anything, Feed anyone or save someone from a shooting, the fact that the majority of the audience (us) is out judging each other over the performers choices is more dead weight. It pulls down not builds up. 10,000 hours of volunteer hours , skipped meals to give to another, doing without and letting others have this changes oppression.

        Liked by 2 people

    • You haven’t been listening because you could ignore it. And now that you can’t ignore it, you don’t want to hear it. So I can only assume you’re lying when you say you’d do anything to change the oppression, because you’ve clearly decided already what you believe. (Thanks for putting that in quotations, by the way – it helps clarify your true opinion.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have many friends who are in law enforcement. NONE of whom have ever shot a minority. They have a point of view as well.

        “Now go get everyone you know to change it …” yet another non answer.

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        • > “Now go get everyone you know to change it …” yet another non answer.

          I was quoting YoungDuck, the OP, who said, “everyone I know would do anything to change the “oppression”,” (Oppression in quotes because I guess shooting unarmed black kids at alarming rates is not oppression). If he and his pals are all going to do whatever they can to change that, I’m sure their help would be welcomed.

          > I have many friends who are in law enforcement. NONE of whom have ever shot a minority.

          How is that a response? Are you denying that when taking population numbers into the equation black people aren’t being killed by police at over three times the rate everyone else is? Because they are.

          That’s the basis for these protests, to raise awareness to this issue. Why does it keep happening? What can we do to change it? Is the problem racial profiling? Is it because many cops are former military and have trouble differentiating between soldering and policing? Do they see black people as the enemy and their first instinct is to shoot the enemy? How can our justice system adapt to handle these crimes? Just about a week ago there was a trial for a cop who told everyone he was going to kill a guy, and then went out and killed the guy, shocking no one. He then planted a gun on the body and lied about it. He got off scot-free because the laws are written as such that cops can freely kill whoever they want under the guise, “I felt threatened.” How can a cop shoot a guy 16 times and then jump on the obvious corpse and wiggle around yelling, “Stop resisting!” and get away with it? Is that justice? I’m not saying each and every person shot by a cop is a 100% innocent angel (although some of them are), but it seems some cops often respond to black Americans with guns drawn for things white Americans wouldn’t even be looked at twice for. This is the “oppression.”

          Liked by 2 people

  7. A country educated on platitudes can’t expect the majority to dig any deeper – it’s all skin deep because to go any further hurts. Don’t evoke those who “died for the flag”, when a large number of veterans I’ve seen in print have said they don’t die for symbols and songs, but for the ideals they are supposed to represent, and in this case, what they represent are freedom of speech (to say the same damn thing 45 said.) But aside the inherent hypocrisy of a president being elected by running on a platform of “making America great again” (which implies that it isn’t, and that millions agree, including, I’ll presume, several of the people leaving comments here), I find your argument disingenuous. You say you want to know what these people want and if you did, you’d just do it, but I can only postulate that you don’t, because if you had been really listening, you’d already know. And now that they’ve got your attention? You don’t want to hear it. So the truth is, there’s really no right way for them to do it. They should sit down and shut up because you paid your money, dammit. So dance, monkey, dance.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. One wonders how Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, James Brown, The Beatles, CCR, CSN&Y, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Phil Ochs, The Sex Pistols, Willie Nelson, Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash, Neil Young, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and every kid who ever picked up a guitar because he felt something shitty was going on would feel about your, “Shut up and sing,” attitude.

    Like

    • That’s not my attitude. But all the people you cited brought their audience IN – and trust me they didn’t go out and flip off paying customers (with the exception of Dylan. But that was about electricity – and the Sex Pistols – but that was because everyone dug it).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Who are these “oppressed” I keep hearing about? No one in this country is any more oppresed than anyone else. All the “oppresed” people I keep hearing about seem to be the ones who want handouts. I say get up off your ass and go to work and earn a living! They say they can’t find a job…..BS to many want to start out as corperate exutives, well it doesn’t work that way. You start at the bottom and work your way up. You want a better paying job, get an education. Stay in school and learn! Don’t just go there to hang out with your friends.If your friends are interfearing with your education they are not your frinds. They are whats holding you back not “The System”. You all have the same oppertunities. Use them! Remember we all can’t be super stars someone has to do the work that keeps this country going. Remember also a productive member of society is important no matter how trivial your job may seem. Somebody has to blow up the footballs, paint the stripes, and make the uniforms or there would be no football game.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Black Lives Matter, Racism: A Conservative Perspective – An Interview With Larry Elder

      ” “Their goal is to tell black people that they are victims.”

      Thomas Sowell: Show Me the Evidence

      “It’s simultaneously amusing and demoralising that basic common sense, evidence based arguments Thomas Sowell was making almost 40 years ago are still being ignored today in favour of emotions and feelings. ”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Regie,

    I can see the country is really fired up about this since there are so many comments. I m sure some troll here wants to bash me for my point of view, but I’m not writing to share with them I’m writing because I think you might appreciate (not necessarily agree with, but appreciate) another perspective on this.

    1) do you know there is an active FBI investigation into white supremacists infiltrating the law enforcement profession? It opened in January. Anyway, It sounds off topic here, but I think it is relevant to my response below.

    Here is what I wrote on a friend’s FB page about why this issue matters and why I support taking a knee:

    “Right, everyone is not racist. There are plenty of ways to see good people and uplifting scenarios on a daily basis. I can walk out my door right now and not be weighed down by the stress of all this at any moment. How lucky I am!
    But these players who are raising black and brown kids have to defend them, as well as their mothers, brothers, and sisters. Money and fame may shelter the players from even seeing racism, but it will not protect their loved ones. Those players have to talk to their kids, even in 2017, about not making waves or stepping out of line because their kids have dark skin and they want their families to stay safe. They have to hold their breath a little every time their child walks out of the house because the players know that their loved ones are subjected to being pulled over by a potential white supremacist (or just a regular nice cop, but how will you guarantee a nice cop at this point?)his is the point the players are trying to make after the president once again decides to go on a social divisive attack. This is not about a flag or an anthem. It is about using your platform to stand up for justice for your family and community. The players have a right to be treated as people, not just entertainment. And if you are going to be famous, do good in the world. Hell, even if you are not famous, do good in the world.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There is no such thing as an unspoken contract. That would literally be “not” a contract. Also, ratings for the NFL were up last weekend, and this article is the equivalent of saying, “You can’t argue for equality because you already have air conditioning and wifi”.

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  12. It’s an interesting point, but I think you are forgetting that many of the “little guys” that these players are playing for and maintaining the “illusion” for are actually black and underprivileged. In doing this protest these athletes know they are not benefiting themselves, but are actually doing something that may actually do some good for the truly underprivileged who actually enjoy much less of this “leisure society” you speak of.

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  13. I really appreciated this post. Being a strong proponent of free speech and the right to assemble (and to protest), as laid out by our forefathers, the modern interpretations of these gifts have often left me unable to put into words exactly what is bothering me. You said it well here. We are thank God allowed to speak our minds. But common civility tells us to choose the time and place, NOT for maximum effect no matter the collateral damage, but to truly get our point across to those oppressing us or those we feel we represent. Joe Six Pack, paying for his seats at the stadium, is not the enemy. And Joe Six Figure Salary is (usually) not being oppressed by the fans on that field or on that stage. Music and sport can be rare opportunities for colorblind harmony between the participants. Let’s wave a flag for that.

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  14. Excellent piece.

    I have had a similar, if less eloquent, sense of the situation:
    If my neighbor were to borrow my lawnmower and completely destroy it, I would feel some sense of being misused, but most likely I would forgive him; we’re all human.
    If, on the other hand, he deflowered my teenage daughter, I would NEVER stop being furious with him. Something sacred to me has been deliberately profaned; that CANNOT be apologized for.

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  15. Well written with clarity that expresses the feelings of many. My position on the second to last paragraph is handled well by Ayn Rand, I accept no unearned guilt. Hat tip to Regie.

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