Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Man With The Golden Hand-out

By Les Dowrey


By now you know the story of the “man with the golden voice.”   After an online video was posted of Ted Williams showing off his velvety-smooth dulcet tones, the media and the public worked themselves into a flurry of emotion over a faux rags-to-riches story.  Despite the fact that Ted Williams hasn’t had a job in almost two decades, the job offers have come pouring in from the Cleveland Cavaliers to MSNBC.  Before you start getting that warm feeling in your stomach and thinking that this is the stuff Hallmark movies are made of, ask yourself this question, how many other qualified voice-over artists could have taken these positions?  And how many of those people actually dedicated the past twenty years to hard work and dedication as opposed to drug use, petty theft, and public urination? 
As uncouth as it may sound, that’s the real story of Ted Williams.  After a brief stint in the military and some time attending a school for voice acting, Williams started working for a Columbus, Ohio radio station.  With his natural-born gifts it appeared that he was on the start of a promising broadcasting career.  That was until 1993 when “the man with the golden voice” threw it all away to begin experimenting with crack cocaine.  According to the Smoking Gun it was during this time that he starting racking up a pretty lengthy wrap-sheet for theft, robbery, forgery, and drug possession among other crimes.  Not to mention, that he is the father of nine children whom he has neglected in exchange for a life on the streets.  After all that, he is being rewarded with a promising voice-over career while others who have worked much harder are overlooked for a drug-addled bum who happened to be at the right place at the right time?
It’s not that I begrudge anyone a second chance, but there’s a huge difference between looking for redemption and being given a hand out.  Worst of all, this is just the latest symptom in an epidemic that is sweeping the country-people who become famous just for being famous.  Think Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, or the chief offenders, the cast of the Jersey Shore.  The United States used to be a country of proud hard-working people who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, but now Americans want all the success with none of the, dare I say it- work.  What has happened to the American Dream? What has become of the world where Horatio Alger made us believe that through hard work and dedication you can achieve anything. No longer is that the American way, the new American Dream is: have fun, shun responsibility, and if people like you, you can get whatever you want…spoon-fed to you on a sliver platter.
A recent news report showed that teenage girls would rather try and get pregnant so they can end up on an MTV reality show than try and get a scholarship and apply themselves in school.  If that’s the lesson kids get from “16 and Pregnant” can you imagine the lesson they get from “the homeless man with the golden voice?”  Quit your job, do drugs, keep your hand out and eventually you’ll end up announcing the Today Show. 
Worst of all, as the media always does, there will not be a follow-up story.   Everyone knows how this story ends because everyone knows that a tiger doesn’t change its stripes, and a hobo doesn’t leave the streets.  When the inevitable happens, when this golden-voiced homeless man returns to his drug habit, when he loses his dream job and throws away his second chance, there will be no one around to tell that story.  Saddest of all, Ted Williams won’t even make it through his full fifteen minutes. But that’s ok, you can bet the next flash in the pan, feel good, youtube moment is only a click away.   

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