Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ryan Lochte: The perks of being a wallpisser

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
Ryan Lochte has lost several of his endorsement deals - Speedo and Ralph Lauren being the most visible - following the fabricated "robbery" story in the Rio Olympics which was actually a cover up for a smashed door in a petrol station followed by urination on the wall of the bathroom. The athlete is going through the usual PR-set tour of apologies about being "immature" and what not.
A bleak story that the media is relishing on.
But if history is any indication, there's little the American public craves more than a story of redemption. The examples are too numerous to count and include the biggest celebrities and some of the highest grossing ones - be it on the music or movies level.
Drugs, infidelities, public mishaps, blundered national anthems, words spoken on a hot mic, financial failings and the list continues. Only those who do not play the game of public redemption after falling get punished. Think how long it took Winona Ryder to be back on top with Stranger Things series (after her 2001 shoplifting and many years spent a little in the wilderness without proper spotlight shining on her incredible talent) versus other celebrities who went back to stratospheric fame not long after their scandals broke following extra short stints of rehab or whatever their agents thought would reclaim their public image.
Which brings us back to Lochte, at 32, he was already at the end of his Speedo deal, and frankly how longer could he represent Ralph Lauren anyway with the market to mid-thirties male models shrinking and him being tied to the brand simply as an Olympic representative only.
Whereas I have little sympathy to Lochte and his arrogant fraternity boy antics, as a communication story, this is pure gold. The harder he falls now, the more noteworthy will be his climbing up from the bottom will be noteworthy.
And the American public loves such stories.
An athlete coming back from a major adversity, against the odds, to actually act like a normal civilized human being would.
Indeed, "what would Ryan Lochte do?" to achieve that....