Debate: Is Ted Williams, the "Golden Voiced" Homeless Man, a Role Model?

By Jake and Glenn 

We are a mere two weeks into 2K11 and it has already proved itself to be the greatest year of all time in terms of internet memes and viral videos. The biggest celebrity of 2K11, Ted Williams, was found on the street holding a sign alerting the general public that he has a "golden radio voice." Since he was homeless, a news crew showed up. They had him do some announcing for them and the rest, as they say, is history. You cannot walk into a GNC Nutrition even without hearing people talking about Ted Williams, and usually they're talking about vitamins, protein powder or workout routines. Ted Williams has a story that has captured the imagination of a cynical nation. The homeless man inside of all of us has been awakened in 2K11 and he has gotten a job as the announcer for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Jake: Ted Williams is far from a tragic figure, in my opinion. He perfectly fits into the 2K11 idea of a celebrity--he has nine children, had to "hit rock bottom" and hold up a sign to get a job and has been arrested repeatedly. He is everything that Lindsay Lohan is, but he pulls it off with far less effort and much more dignity. He went from a pauper to a prince. It is the feel good story of 2K11 and it will unfold before our eyes throughout this year, and we are all ready with the popcorn.

Every time we shovel some macaroni into our gobs, we will think of the smooth golden voice of Ted Williams. Ted Williams is a role model to the youth of America. The lessons we can learn from his rise to fame can be applied to our own lives. If you hit rock bottom, there's only one way to go. Rock bottom is the lowest point that can be physically measured. You can only head back to the top after hitting the lowest point--it is like a trampoline. If I start free-basing cocaine, drinking rum all day and sleeping on the street, I too can become the announcer for a popular, albeit unhealthy, food we feed to our fat children. America is the greatest country on the planet Earth. If it wasn't, then homeless people wouldn't become rich in two weeks because of their voices--and not the ones in their heads.

Glenn: This is exactly the wrong message to take away from the Ted Williams saga. The real Ted Williams played for the Boston Red Sox in the late 1800s and still has the #1 and #2 Google results when you search for "Ted Williams." The baseball player is the one who is famous for hitting over .400 in a single season during 1941. The radio announcer is the one who is famous for being homeless. But there is more to his homelessness than just bad luck. His rap sheet is longer than the one Dr. Dre used to write The Chronic 2000. Ted Williams has stabbed people, robbed people and likely defecated in front of their homes. We should not be telling young 18 year olds who want to go to Columbia to major in radio broadcasting for $40,000 a year that Ted Williams is the person to emulate. He is a cautionary tale, not a role model.

Jake: Ted Williams is a great man. He has pulled himself from his lowest point--being a thieving, defecating homeless man--to his highest point--being an announcer, having a home--in a mere two weeks. It is not a cautionary tale, it is inspiring. While I may not be homeless and do not use rock cocaine or heroin, I could use a career boost. In theory, it would be nice to get paid to write for OYIT, but I don't know if holding up a sign in NY would be the right way to go about this. Yet, I will never know unless I try. Ted Williams is a man who never lost sight of his dream--to announce for macaroni commercials. He has done what most of us have been unable to do, follow his seemingly unattainable dream while having a brain riddled by hard drug use. Ted Williams is an inspiration, a hero and Time Magazine's 2K11 Man of the Year.

Glenn: It's a bit early to accuse someone of being Time's Person of the Year. We just know it won't be Julian Assange. The original viral video that made Ted Williams famous showcased a nice man whose life had been ruined by factors inside and outside his control. Every homeless person in Columbus, Ohio, has a fascinating story to tell and a hidden talent that could make him/her successful. Why just the other day I read about a homeless woman who was discovered by a young blogger there. Her talent was the ability to have sex with someone for money or drugs. That's the kind of thing that made Heidi Fleiss famous! There are plenty of ways to reach success in the radio industry besides doing heavy drugs and ruining your life. I read that Ted Williams has 25 or 30 children, which could be a fact or a racist assertion. This article talks about how his ex-wife raised four of their children and an additional one from another woman. She is also blind. Talk about a hero to emulate. There is nothing heroic about abandoning your kids otherwise Scott Peterson and deadbeat fathers all over the country would have their own reality television shows, which they could for all I know.

Jake: What makes Ted Williams a hero is not the same things that make Aquaman or The Human Torch a hero. He does not have super powers, for instance. Sure he has abandoned his children--he was a homeless drug addict. Now he's just a regular, house-dwelling drug addict. It is likely that he will snap under the "pressure" that he is currently facing. He is probably crazy, but aren't we all? Can any of us look in the mirror and say that we have not urinated outside or don't have voices in our heads telling us to murder? The only differences between us and Ted Williams is we ignore the voices and he has a golden radio voice. Ted Williams is an example of the fragility of life and as we witness his quick rise to fame and his quick crash and burn, and watch this repeat for the next several years, we will all learn to respect his celebrity and his hero status. Glenn may be against Ted Williams, and homeless people in general, but I think anybody who becomes famous in a "hitting the lottery" sort of way is a role model, an example and a hero. If/when he murders somebody, I will take all of this back, though.

Glenn: It's probably when. Ted Williams will be the first murderer created from an internet viral video unless you count Jared Loughner. Kudos to TW for urinating outside and with my degenerating bladder I know exactly how that feels. I just don't want him to become the template for young people who think you need to sink below the surface before rising above it. There are certain structural inequalities in our society that means homeless people will always exist. We can work to minimize their suffering while at the same time condemning drug use and escalating our war on drugs. I don't think Ted Williams should be celebrated as a "hero." The real heroes are people that stopped the Tuscon gunman from killing more or the people who killed looters during the aftermath of Katrina. Ted Wiliams has already gotten into a fight with one of his numerous daughters and checked himself into rehab. This isn't a model story for someone who wants to "make it" in America - it's a painful reminder that no matter how many times the internet and then the real world find create a celebrity, it will never make our society functional.

1 comment:

  1. ...Regardless of whether or not he's a hero, I'd tap that ass.


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