Some people still earn their way to stardom

A video recently went viral that showed a teenage girl picking a gallon of ice cream out of a grocery store refrigerator, removing the lid, licking the ice cream and then putting it back in the refrigerator.

I really can’t stress this enough: She picked up an ice cream container — which did no harm upon her person, mind you — and licked it. Then she put it back into the refrigerator, or freezer, or whatever kind of cold container it was in, so some unsuspecting person can come along and enjoy a nice bowl of her spit later while watching television.

You could easily substitue “vile” for “viral” in this instance and you would not be wrong.

This is where we are as a society. This is the world that has been bourne from the trappings of an instant-celebrity climate that catapaults any of us into temporary stardom for doing nothing more than the most repugnant or inane acts we can imagine, as long as we record it for others to watch. 

Want to go viral? Eat a Tide Pod. Want to get people talking? Just say soemthing that offends or is so over-the-top ridiculous that people share with one another just to show how ridiculous you are. Want to be really famous? Act really stupid. 

It’s a pretty simple formula these days. It’s not about accomplishments or making a positive impact on your community that grabs people’s attention anymore — it’s about being as ostentatious as humanly possible.

The Internet has replaced the three-ring circus as the place for casual voyeurs to observe the outrageous, and it is now available in the palm of our hands. Viral videos are everywhere, and everywhere there are examples of people becoming famous for... well, becoming famous.

I’m reminded of an exchange between Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh in the movie, “Bull Durham.” Davis picks up LaLoosh’s flip-flops in the locker room and looks at him with disgust in his eyes.

 “Your shower shoes have fungus on them,” Davis says. “You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. Win 20 in the Show and you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the Show, however, it means you’re a slob.”

Only now, LaLoosh would probably be famous in the Minor Leagues because someone would post a video of his fungus-covered shoes on the Internet and he’d do a million interviews about them.

Remember the saying about putting the cart before the horse? Well, now we put the eccentric or disgusting before the accomplishment. Political pundits used to be introduced by their credentials. They earned some credence in their words because they had indeed “walked the walk,” and done something of note with their lives. Now they simply need cell phones and over-the-top “hot takes.”

Of course, not all is lost. Not by a long shot. There was a shining example last weekend of a group of young women who achieved greatness through substance. And that greatness has indeed presented them a platform.

The United States women’s national soccer team earned their fourth World Cup championship on Sunday, July 7, and they did it through superior talent, old-fashioned grit and sheer hard work. 

Admittedly, I am no soccer aficianado. Many of the nuances of the game escape me, and I really don’t watch it all that much outside the World Cup. But I do recognize controlled aggression when I see it, and I do understand the basic concepts of team defense and athletic bravado. And I saw plenty of those ingredients while watching the last few matches of the Cup.

It’s long been my policy to describe athletes of either gender simply as “athletes” when referring to their exploits on the field or court. They are playing a sport. That should be the focus. 

But this team both championed and celebrated their “womanhood” throughout the process. They embraced the “girl-power” attitude, took the lead on social issues that were important to them and really shined a light on the disparity in pay between themselves and their male counterparts. 

Being a staunch capitalist who believes a person gets paid based on what they contribute, I did a little research for myself and discovered that Sunday’s World Cup final saw 14.3 million people tune in to Fox, via an article on CNN.com — plus an additional 1.6 million on Telemundo. That is a 22-percent larger audience than the men’s World Cup final had in last year’s men’s final.

The ladies have an argument. And they earned their platform through accomplishment. That’s refreshing.