We Need a little Controversey
I've been feelin' Eminem lately. I "cracked a bottle" for my 500th post and today I'm thinking back to his song, "Without Me," which has the lines:
Now this looks like a job for me
So everybody just follow me
Cuz we need a little controversy,
Cuz it feels so empty without me
Well, I don't want to be the controversey, my wife won't let me. But after the uproar caused by my friend and former colleague John Foley, who somewhat satirically challenged our current English curriculum, I want in. Meaning, I want to know at what point does a piece of literature become too controversial, too whatever for the public high school curriculum.
On Saturday I read Matt McCarthy's Odd Man Out, a spectacularly easy to read book covering much more than one person's attempt at professional baseball. McCarthy confronts race and privilege, hard work and the cutting corners, the American dream and jealousy. I can't rave enough about this book. In fact, I want to use it for the Sports Literature class we'll be offering next school year.
But. How can I justify the inclusion of this book with such tawdry tales as this:
An Angels employee briefly interrupted the revelry to bring us fifty leftover hot dogs from the concession stand's "Weenie Wednesday" promotion....When I turned around, I saw the dark, naked bodies of two young Dominicans hovering around the hot dogs....We all knew they were up to something no good....Suddenly, Callaspo took one of the hot dogs out of its bun and deep-throated it. Then he took the bun and put it around Aybar's flaccid penis and poured ketchup on it....Then Callaspo bent over and pretended to eat the Dominican penis hot dog. When he did that, we all screamed, " Noooo!" Getting the reaction he'd desired, Callaspo turned to a few of us and said, "I no gay. You gay!" and burst into a fit of laughter (161).
Some might say to simply censor the book, to skip that part. But there is much to think about from this selection, especially when put into the greater context. Sports have always leveled the playing field, except when it comes to sexuality. The locker room has long been a bastion of male machismo and not all that accepting of anything but the strong male stereotype. But, is it appropriate for high school students?
At what point do young men and women reach the maturity to handle the, um, awkward and controversial subjects?