Let me start by clarifying couple of things, as I place my comments among yours it may seem that as of late some of my comments maybe from a passionate side or an activist perspective, well, perhaps a bit of both and neither, however, some of our book selections and I have some commonalities.
Therefore, my comments do include a variety of personal perspectives from my own library of life experiences, And “Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk” is no exception as it brings to memory the NFL locker rooms, witnessing firsthand media interview frenzies of sport athletes, the false fanfare admiration and idolization of superheroes, and the “fanciful” list is not just excluded to professional sports, it exist in every aspect of entertainment.
As some of you may not know I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in the upper management box office suites, media booths, special front-row seats, locker room visits and on field duties, as well as meet some of the biggest professional star athletes of the last three decades, in other words, “the other side of counter” innocently ignorant to the general public’s entertainment interpretation.
Said and done “Billy Lynn’s description of Halftime entertainment of 19 years old soldiers is a living phenom that happens at every event, at every game and not just any Sunday. It is not a planned conspiracy to deceive either the athlete or the fan, rather a way of doing business and perhaps without it entertainment viewing would be different.
Imagine watching a sports event without particular heroes, an opera without a stardom soprano, a circus without a trapeze or fire flying tiger, or a no name artist trying to sell his masterpiece, well it would like watching your grandchildren’s pee wee league or your son participate with his high school band or you jump rope your pet dog in your own backyard, imagine “saying no to Van Gough”, You may also include God in to the entertainment mixture as a religion without a martyr is practically worthless to follow.
Yes the drinking frenzy, fantasizing a night’s out with a 36″-26″-36″ mostly plastic body cheerleader, befriending an athlete for an autograph, saluting the flag and assuming your role “a hero for a day” is all part of a day’s excitement for the big businesses to bring the best presumptuous entertainment YOUR “MONEY” can buy.
So my fellow book readers, what you have just read is pretty much what happens every day at every corner of this country and without it there would be no ESPN, no NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, or March Madness and therefore, no Russell Wilson, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Barry Bonds, Tom Dempsey and yes the museums walls would be bare and empty to see.
The NFL’s latest television broadcasting contract is somewhere around $27+ billion dollars, yes $27 billion, The NBA about the 24+ billion, The NHL $2+ billion annually and the MLB is an astounding $12.4 billion excluding every team’s individual locally televised games, averaging $1 billion plus.
The above list does not include the NCAA’s March Madness $6+ billion TV contract excluding all other sports and it’s 1200++ individual member schools in every sports and entertainment program imagined, and nowadays you may include the High Schools sport programs as well as the annually televised “Little League pee wee” baseball games where children as young as 8, 9 & 10 years old are expected to entertain and sign autographs flamboyantly.
Of the most intriguing surprises, the paper back book’s opening pages titled
“PRAISE” (not to confuse it with spirituality praise), filled with numerous fanfare comments praising Ben Fountain for his funny and humorous, yet candid and honest writing, more baffling is to see so many mainstream news papers jointly and positively comment on a single book.
However, the exaggerated praising comments by “The Believer” (Funny & pitch-perfect, populated mostly by men), “L.A. Times” (Darkly comic, a ruminative novel), “Entertainment Weekly” (as if it was written during a prolonged and fruitful acid trip), “San Francisco Chronicle” (it’s Pulitzer Prize quality good), “Texas Observer” (magnificent mischief….), are very alarming to say the least.
Yet the publisher’s persistence that “This book is pure fiction” is no surprise to me, reading Billy Lynn’s confessions of “Politicizing Sports” is a true everyday realm that’s hardly ever discussed or the false showcasing of appreciation given to soldiers who survived the atrocities of un-warranted war battlefronts, brought in front of live television audiences to nurture the next volunteer generation.
“And of noteworthy references, quotations and comments ”
The language used among the soldier boys in the book resembles the rigors of the boot camp training to prepare the inexperienced young and the restless for the battlefront, playing heavy metal, acid and grunge music loudly by the soldiers while in combat so to block all mental distractions while preforming business as usual.
It was revealed that the military recruitment of thousands of various street gang members and prison felons who refused the bro code, thus violating every soldier ethics code possible, which could explain the explicit language used throughout the book, however, surly not every soldier is a recruited thug or as naive as portrayed, specially the Bravo Company?
Though hard to swallow Ben Fountain is describing a “mass murder” like a televised reality show, no not to be mistaken with those other foggy television reality shows, rather a reality of boys who play “manly games”, “deadly games” while falsely chanting “USA” USA” USA” promoting business as usual for the big benefactors.
Some of the character names and possible connections to the book is the “year-2004” halftime music performance show of “Destiny’s Child”, and though I’m not sure of “Albert Ratner Co-chairman emeritus, Forest City Enterprises” and his affiliation to the Dallas Cowboys or Billy Lynn’s, he is a living creature.
Page 12, very true that all specialty guest do arrive 2 hrs prior to game time and usually stand around doing nothing. Page 21, all names mentioned are retired Dallas Cowboys Football hall of fame players. Page 28, perhaps describing the American food culture. However, Page 51, some special guest do get to gorge on specialty food (self served) but Booz not provided, with the exception of executive suites or private box offices.
According to Google and Wikipedia search, the boys of the Bravo Company were referred to as the Al-Ansakar Canal battle heroes, Page 36, Garrett Hedlund is Staff Sgt. David Dime, the Bravo cerebral and the Rusty Tillman (the Arizona Cardinals deceased football player) esque squad leader, and yes, all the names listed do really exist and belong to the Bravo Company, all were interviewed by Ben Fountain for his book.
The book’s publishers suggest the book for education and teaching, therefor, parent who teach their children to idolize particular characters as role models, fanaticizing them as superheroes as if their children require a fantastical idol to advance in his or her lives should purchase a copy of Billy Lynn’s……., though sadly the last part has become a norm of American values doctrine than most other societies.
Unlike some of the Friday morning coffee boys, who felt the book to be totally a work of fiction as well, I read this book from a different perspective, “Ben Fountain” describes an ugly phenom that takes place every day and all around us, with innocent people glued to their television sets to appreciate and applaud a superhero for entertainment’s moment, clueless to how it is portrayed for their approval.