Perhaps the man with the golden voice was destined to crash and burn the moment he became a viral sensation. Celebrity brings you to the peak of the mountain and the media then dedicates its time to making sure that every skeleton in your closet is available for public view. In the age of the internet this creates a 24 hour storm in which people rip apart your life with glee. Is it really surprising that a man with history alcoholism who was homeless for years would have issues? Is it really surprising to learn that he would have difficulties dealing with the media circus that descended upon him?
Jezebel recently published a post entitled Ten Days in the Breakneck Rise and Fall of Ted Williams in which they document the media circus that ended with him admitting that he is drinking again. Jezebel is not the only news outlet that has noticed the sudden rise and decline. Colorline also has an emotionless, fact laden account of Williams’ media journey. From the moment this Cinderella story started, even as he was being given a helping hand, there were those that were determined to make sure that his rise was temporary. The truth is, no one really wants the underclass to rise above and this is especially true when one is a person of colour, or an otherwise marginalized body.
“Help” for Williams meant lots of publicity, free housing, and a job, while exploiting him for everything that he is worth. When Dr. Phil had him on the show, was he really acting in Williams’ best interest or was he looking for another timely story that he could exploit for ratings? He, like anyone else had to realize that the moment Ted became a public figure, that it was simply a matter of time before he faltered. What exactly was the purpose of gathering his family to remind him of all the ways in which he failed them, before sure he was ready to make amends for his transgressions. It reads like sensationalism to me.
There is no doubt in my mind that Ted needed a job and a place to live, but he also needed counseling and that was not a priority for anyone, because for his brief ten days of fame, he functioned as a cash cow for those who sought to use him for their own gain. Despite the round of back patting that went on at proving that homeless people had skills, and performing supposed charity work, this was never about helping him and in fact it functioned once again as a total abdication of our social responsibility to each other.
Ted is in rehab and now we can go back to being cynical and excusing ourselves every time we walk by someone in need. Anything that involves real sacrifice is something most are unwilling to do and anything that involves supporting the agency of marginalized people is unacceptable, because it recognizes that we are all equal. Instead of placing him in media circus, what would have been best is to ask him what he needed, but then I guess hindsight is 20/20