Big mouths, large egos -- and no shame

December 18, 2004|By GREGORY KANE

WITH ONLY 13 days left in 2004, is it safe to hand out my annual Chutzpah Awards?

That would assume no one's going to surpass the folks on this list in the next two weeks, and believe me, that would take some doing. So without further ado, here are this year's honorees.

Ninth runner-up: The honchos at the TV Land network and TV Guide magazine, who saluted Tony Soprano's garroting of a snitch on the HBO show The Sopranos as one of television's "most memorable moments." While commentators on the show positively gushed about how wonderful The Sopranos is in telling a story about mobsters from the mobsters' point of view, the DVD Stop Snitching hit the streets of Baltimore.

Anybody who condemned Stop Snitching and then plopped down in front of the television on Sunday night - the better to watch Tony Soprano kill more snitches - has a serious disconnect. And no, this isn't about fiction vs. nonfiction. It's about the values the older generation passes on to the younger one. We may not discern the stench of hypocrisy in praising The Sopranos while having fits about Stop Snitching, but the young men in the video probably can.

Eighth runner-up: Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., for his "This is my government" comment. That statement must come as news to most Marylanders, Democrats and Republicans alike, because it was another Republican, President Lincoln, who said the soldiers who died at Gettysburg died so that "government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." (Of course, for that line Lincoln should have gotten a Chutzpah Award of his own, since that's not why the War Between The States was fought.)

Seventh runner-up: Mayor Martin O'Malley, who claimed those Baltimore students setting fires in schools are doing so because of an absence of art and music programs. Hey, Mr. Mayor, here's a thought: Couldn't you have taken the state money Ehrlich proposed to bail out the city and used the $42 million from Baltimore's rainy day fund to spend on some of those art and music programs?

O'Malley and Ehrlich might run against each other for governor in 2006, a thought that leaves me already hankering for the year 2015.

Sixth runner-up: National Basketball Association player Latrell Sprewell, who's getting $14.6 million this year but groused about renegotiating his contract because he has to "feed his family."

Lordy, lordy, what are they eating?

Fifth runner-up: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, who, in spurning the Baltimore Ravens, said he was standing up for his rights the way civil rights heroine Rosa Parks did.

Fourth runners-up: Any black folks who criticized comedian Bill Cosby's remarks about those black folks who "don't hold up their end of the bargain" in their children's education. These Cosby bashers not only know some of those blacks Cosby was referring to, but they're on a first-name basis with some of them.

Third runner-up: Barack Obama, the senator-elect from Illinois, who proclaimed that there "is no white America, black America, Hispanic America, Asian America" etc. at the Democratic National Convention, knowing his party believes nothing of the sort.

Second runner-up: The Rev. Al Sharpton, the one-time Democratic presidential candidate who spoke at the convention and accused President Bush of deceiving the American people. Sharpton, who's been accused of many things (being Mr. Integrity not among them), apparently didn't appreciate the irony of a man who's been found by a court of law to have told some stretchers in the Tawana Brawley affair accusing someone else of dishonesty.

First runner-up: This slot goes to the producers of the film Soul Plane and any defenders that monstrosity might have. The stereotypes abound in Soul Plane and the humor took a holiday. The film left me pining away for reruns of Amos 'n' Andy, which was a lot funnier and at least mixed some positive black images in with the stereotypes. Where is dat Kingfish now dat he is really needed?

Soul Plane was called a "hip-hop" comedy, which comes as no surprise because some hip-hop and rap artists are peddling worse stereotypes of black people - thugs, gangstas, pimps, hoochies and some character named L'il Jon who out-Stepin Fetchits Stepin Fetchit - than whites ever have.

The winner: NAACP board Chairman Julian Bond, who went into a clearly partisan tirade against President Bush at the organization's Philadelphia convention this summer and then claimed it was done in the spirit of nonpartisanship. When an inevitable Internal Service Revenue audit was announced, Bond went into innocent-victim mode.

Here's hoping someone had the wisdom to give Bond a padlock for his mouth as a Christmas gift.

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