Kat Gotsick’s “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” series finale.
Who had the world eating out of the palm of his hand more than Ryan Lochte after the 2012 Olympics? Not even Michael Phelps, who was low-keying his way to four gold medals and two silvers (by comparison, Lochte had two golds, two silvers, and a bronze and completely overshadowed Phelps). Lochte was the ultimate Man of the Hour, best demonstrated by the fact that he was only the fourth man ever to appear on the cover of Vogue—Richard Gere, George Clooney, and LeBron James were the others. That’s pretty heady company, write-your-own-ticket types, right? Men want to be them, women want to be with them types, RIGHT? All Lochte had to do was keep his mouth shut, win swim meets, and smile when a camera was pointed at him.
But then, he opened his mouth.
I have done not one but two “Who’s Hotter” columns featuring Lochte and I agreed to recap his new E! show, “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” Lochte had a TON of political capital to spend with me and good grief, I only made it to episode three before it was all gone. I started to watch episode four, but the cold open was Lochte making his brother Devin barf into a sink and then taking a picture of him mid-hurl as his mother looked on passively. I only barely got the TV turned off before I threw it off my balcony.[ref]I actually live in a garden apartment, and I didn’t throw my TV. But I wanted to.[/ref]
An awful show for the ages. Shocking, really. So awful, I wondered what kind of sick individual makes this telecast a weekly appointment. Turns out that it’s mostly 18-34-year-old women who are tuning in, which isn’t a big surprise. What is surprising is that Lochte draws FEWER 18-34-year-old women than its follower, “Married to Jonas.” I promise you it has far fewer 18-34-year-old female viewers today after the Sink Barfing Incident.
So . . . Lochte is pissing away any chance he has at long-term credibility. He’s lucky that modeling is probably still a possibility after his Olympic career is over, because anything that requires him to open that mouth and talk is about 80 percent less of an option than it was before E! took their bite.
I was inspired to wonder who were Lochte’s historical comparables? Who else has traveled the same path as Lochte–idolized when silent, ridiculed when talking–and how did they fare? Let’s take a quick look at some of the comps.
Vicious, intimidating, menacing, threatening, frightening, ferocious, savage. All these were words that easily described Tyson before he spoke. And when he spoke, the words that came out were also vicious and intimidating . . . but you couldn’t take them seriously. His voice was high pitched,[ref]The result, to some extent, of all the strengthening he did on his own stomach muscles.[/ref] dull-edged, and lispy. It was clear his “fight IQ” was high, but once he returned from jail a lesser boxer, even that wasn’t a factor mitigating how much less of a man he sounded like than he looked like. Verdict: Oh, how the mighty have fallen
Beautiful, voluptuous, sexy, stunning, statuesque. All words you could use to describe Drescher before she spoke. And when she spoke, she spoke with the voice of Lucille Ball had she lived to be 120 years old, spent her final 40 years in a moldy wine cellar in Atlantic City, and smoked every cigarette on earth. Drescher is a perfect example, however, of turning your weakness into a strength. “The Nanny” was a successful show by any definition and she is a rich woman today because she wasn’t afraid to accentuate the negative. Verdict: Admirable job, but seriously, just … sshhhh.
It wasn’t so much Cruise’s voice when he spoke, it was what he said and how he said it. This was a guy that clearly benefited from the world’s finest publicist. That publicist’s job was to make Cruise unavailable for interviews. I truly believe Cruise has an honorable soul and great intentions, and also that he is a full-blown weirdo who needs to rehire his publicist. Having said that, none of this has kept fans away from his movies and same as it ever was, h’s a legitimate blockbuster-maker. Verdict: Keep your mouth shut (unless you’re in character and then you can say no wrong)
Okay, so Lamont is a fictional character but oh man, WHAT A TREMENDOUS PARALLEL WITH LOCHTE. Quick prologue: I saw “Singin’ in the Rain” for the first time as a 10-year-old after listening to my father praise it and then overpraise it and then double down on the overpraise. This was long before DVR, DVD, VCRs, and we only barely had cable. We could tune in black and white video of the Showtime channel on our UHF dial (the one that spun smoothly, not the one that clicked) and synch the audio by tuning in the proper AM station on the clock radio that sat on top of the TV. THAT is how I first saw “Singin’ in the Rain.”
My dad wasn’t wrong.
It is a TREMENDOUS movie. In addition to the stellar dancing, period piece novelty, and high-stakes storyline, it manifests absolutely, completely timeless comedy. The jokes are virtually all still hilarious today and the comic performances are top notch. None so great though,[ref]Not even Donald O’Connor’s iconic performance.[/ref] as Jean Hagen’s portrayal of Lina Lamont, a silent movie star who, despite being “a shimmering, shining star in the cinema firmament”[ref]A phrase my friends and I relate to one another anytime one of us does something worth lauding, in exactly Lina’s line reading.[/ref] finds herself pushed out when the talkies arrive since she is a despicable human being with a nails-on-a-chalkboard voice.
Lamont doesn’t go down without a fight though. She claws onto furniture and set pieces and curtains and human beings and anything else she can find on her way out the door. She whines, cajoles, plays dumb, and then ultimately blackmails her studio bosses in order to get her way, but to no avail. Lamont leaves in shame and sinks into irrelevance. I fear the same will be true of Lochte after his swimming career is over unless he goes into modeling and hires Tom Cruise’s publicist.
The lesson you and everyone else should take from this article? Go watch “Singin’ in the Rain.”