Ted Williams Rehab: America Jumps the Shark

I smell a rat. And as much as I don't like him, it's not Ted.

By now most everyone knows the story of Ted Williams, the homeless man who gained sudden fame thanks to a YouTube video that went viral which showcased a remarkably rich voice that emanated from his tattered-looking body. Once Williams was discovered, America jumped all over him. And I’m officially sick of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as much of a sucker for a good story as the next guy. But somewhere around day three of his viral fame, I began to smell a rat. And though I’m not particularly fond of the guy, the rat wasn’t Williams.

The entire nation watched as the former disc jockey made the requisite rounds on the morning talk shows. And many of us listened with delight to his voiceover over on the new Kraft macaroni and cheese commercial. Some of us even reached for our tissues during his public and tearful reunion with his mom.

Not me though. That canned reunion was cheesier than the dish that accompanied his voiceover. The coverage of the meeting featured a banner along the bottom of the screen that shamelessly read: The man with the golden voice meets mom. The only way it could have possibly been worse would have been if that verbiage was followed by: brought to you by the friendly folks at Kraft. And Coca-Cola.

“Hi Mommy. Hi Mommy,” said the grown man in his beautiful voice that was cracking with what sounded like feigned emotion.

Williams’ voice recently resonated with a different type of emotion during another familial encounter, only this time it wasn’t feigned lamentations of innocence lost directed at his mommy. It was sincere anger directed at his daughter. The altercation went down outside a Hollywood hotel and got so heated that the LAPD was called to the scene.

Predictably, Williams downplayed the episode, categorizing it as nothing more than a minor family squabble. But the words he used to describe that squabble to “Entertainment Tonight” made it sound anything but minor. “My daughter exploded, just erupted into this jump-up-in-my-face type of thing, fists started flying, none of which were mine, none of which were mine, but it could have escalated to the point where it could have gotten really ugly.”

Suddenly the unpleasant smell of rotting rodent grew even stronger. But it still wasn’t Williams. That said, what kind of jerk would throw his daughter under the bus like that? It seemed to me like this guy was more interested in covering his golden ass than he was in making anything out of his golden voice — a man more delighted with his unearned fame than humbled by the borderline miraculous second chance society had given him.

What’s more, I even doubted the veracity of his comments. Especially after I read that his daughter told “Entertainment Tonight” the argument stemmed from the fact that her father had been drinking. Though Williams has openly admitted to struggling with substance abuse in the past, he vehemently denied his daughter’s claims.

Well guess what? He was lying. And the world found as much when Williams appeared on the Dr. Phil Show, where the man with the golden voice was confronted by the man with the invisible bonnet. I almost felt sorry for Williams once the bald, therapeutic shark sensed his psychological blood in the water. Oprah’s Bitch quickly pounced on his prey, effortlessly exploiting the argument between Williams and his daughter, swimming right up to the very heart of the matter — substance abuse.

Williams was exposed. Though he had been telling anyone who would listen that he’d been clean for two years, angry testimonials provided by his family suggested it was more like two hours. Off the air, Dr. Phil convinced Williams to go to rehab.

Quite a ride, no? It’s odd to think that just 11 days ago, Williams was homeless. Most Americans pretend as if homeless folks are invisible. Until, apparently, we find one with a talent that tickles us. Then we that person’s every move.

Ted Williams has gone from living on the streets to kicking it with Matt Lauer faster than I can realistically expect to receive intra-state mail. And if Williams thinks this is an accomplishment, he’s sorely mistaken. Thus far, he’s accomplished absolutely nothing. Sadly though, we live in a world of labels, and people have a tendency to take such labels at their word. And the one attached to him that reads “famous” is more impressive than the one that read “homeless.” What most fail to consider, though, is that there’s almost always a story behind the label. And that story is the truth. Not matter what the label says.

But pop culture seldom dares to find the truth. The label system works just fine for it. And in this case, pop culture has been hard at work assigning pithy monikers for Williams.

Homeless. Famous. Addict.

That rat I smell? It’s the bloodthirsty, ratings-horny society that gobbled up this poor clown — the one that ushered him through their superficial system of pop-culture hierarchy. The one that capitalized on the man who was too smitten with his sudden brand of fame to even notice he was being exploited.

All in a time period that seemed as brief the click of a mouse.

I wish my kids were older. Because if they were, I’d tell them in no uncertain terms what a preposterous crock of shit this entire episode has been.

Image: Wikipedia

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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • http://LifeofaNewDad otter321

    That’s exactly why I don’t follow any of the hype machine type programs. I read the news. I new about Ted Williams just like everyone else. But after one or maybe two days that is it for me. I don’t have the patience or interest of any kind to follow along with stories that keep running until they are dried up. It works for me.

    • Anonymous

      the only reason why i’m even abreast of the story is b/c of all the internet surfing my blogging at babble requires me to do. it’s pathetic, brother. i’ve been waiting for the grace period to pass before i talked to you about the Sugar Bowl. y’all had a great comeback and were a scoop and carry away from winning that damn thing. great game. great season. you did the SEC proud. and thanks to you, i have much affinity for the razorbacks.

      • http://LifeofaNewDad otter321

        Ten years ago I would have never recovered from that loss. Braden helps me keep it in perspective these days. There were plenty of plays that could have won the game.The drops killed us. The scoop and score would have been nice too. One of my all time emotion swing moments. I jumped off the couch screaming on the blocked punt. It was as pure of an excited reaction as I’ve had. Then a few moments later I scream cussed louder than I have in years and turned off the TV. You gotta love sports huh? Thanks for allowing the appropriate grieving period. I am excited about next year even though Mallet is leaving. Now we’ll just have to talk about something else for a few months.

  • http://jugglingeric.blogspot.com Eric D. Bolton

    So that means you’re going to go see the movie about him played by Will Smith?

    • Anonymous

      HA! he strikes me as more of a Denzell (sp?) kinda guy.

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    I very much wanted him to leave cleveland to take a job in Miami.

    • Anonymous

      we’ll either hear about this clown forever, or he’ll disappear in an instant. not sure which. either way, it’s hardly his fault.

  • http://thinspiralnotebook.wordpress.com/ Tara R.

    Williams was used to garner viewers. He was a pawn and now I worry for him that all these do-gooders will abandon him, and he will be worse off than when this all started.

    • Anonymous

      tara, a pawn, indeed is what he is. it’s very sad. sadder still that he doesn’t realize it. at least didn’t. maybe he does now. hope he lands on his feet after the wave goes away.

  • http://www.pjmullen.com/ PJ Mullen

    You watch Dr. Phil?

    • Anonymous

      probably my favorite comment in the last year.

      and no. i’m more of a dr. oz kinda guy.

      don’t worry, PJ. i didn’t watch Dr. Phil. i read about all of this. which is bad enogh.

  • Melinda

    Thank you!
    I feel the same way about this fiasco. There was no way Ted Williams was going to live up to the feel-good story the media had written for him. Because he hadn’t really earned it yet. And now everyone’s already dissecting his fall from grace. Ridiculous.

    • Anonymous

      your last word says it all, melinda. RIDICULOUS.

  • Vero

    I think he looks like Obama. I can’t help to wonder if the angry family testimonials are just a way to extort him.

  • http://www.almightydad.com Keith

    I stopped paying attention to this guy after the good morning america interview. I didn’t know about the whole altercation with the daughter. That being said, I too find it sad how the media chews up these people without any care for the ramifications. He sounded to me like a pretty fragile guy. His kind of personality just doesn’t seem compatible with high pressure, and I guess you’re right. He got exposed. America likes a good underdog story, so I hope he manages to make it through the startup phase to a point where he can get some real help.

  • http://thecheekofgod.wordpress.com/ tysdaddy

    Compare the likes of Williams to the character Bubbles from The Wire. Compare and contrast. There is a right way, and plenty of compelling reasons besides fame, to get cleaned up . . .

  • http://twitter.com/homeanduncool homeanduncool

    I’m glad to see someone else had a similar reaction to this guy’s story. The hype machine fattens then eats its own.