Look At Me Now

By Eric D.Graham BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 27, 2011

Michael Irvin

Michael Irvin

North Carolina–(BASN) There were two controversial images that dominated the media last week in the world of sports. And in my humble opinion, both of them were negative.

First, there was the Men’s Journal magazine photo of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison with the title Confession of a Hitman, which had him grimacing into the camera while holding two big, black guns across his chiseled chest as sweat-dripped from his big, black bald head. (Read my previous article entitled Confession of a Hitman: Linebacker Locker room Lingo to learn more.)

The photograph of the two-time Super Bowl champion with guns promoted that stereotypical idea that Black men are criminals, thieves, and killers.

As a result, the decision to photograph Harrison with guns, in fact, captured that Black rage that America subconsciously fears will be unleashed upon them at any hour.

Unfortunately, this nightmarish image of Black vengeance is a reoccurring image that constantly appears in photos of Black men.

But let’s not forget, Harrison is a professional football player and not a real assassin. And the only illegal weapon, he uses, on the field, is his helmet, which he allegedly leads with when he tackles.

Therefore, even though he has a right to bear arms, those big black guns in Harrison’s hands didn’t help his already tainted image.

Nor, did it enhance the image of the NFL during the lockout, especially after the recent arrest of ex-New York Giants Plaxico Burress, who served nearly two years on a weapon possession charge after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh with an unlicensed gun.

As a result, psychologically, those viewing the photo of Harrison had to ask themselves the question: Who is he going to shoot with those guns? And what is the source of his “RAGE.” Especially, after reading the article, which Harrison confesses his hatred for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Secondly, the decision to have Harrison half-naked, of course, represents his sexual prowess or his perceived uncontrollable animalistic nature. The shirtless Harrison, in fact, created a sense of nervousness and awkwardness for the reader.

But by doing this, Men’s Journal accomplished its goal of combining sex and violence to stir up enough controversy to sell a few magazines.

While Harrison’s photo represented the hyper-masculine violent image of Black men, Michael Irvin’s OUT magazine photo represented the feminization of the Black male image, which I discussed previously in an article on BASN called The New Blackface: The Feminization of the Black Male Athlete.

With this new homoerotic image of Irvin, I have come to the conclusion, like several other scholars, that there is a homosexual agenda against heterosexuality taking place in America

But despite my growing concerns about the image of Black men in the eyes of other young Black boys, the Bible prophesied that in the last days things would be like those in Sodom and Gomorrah.

I, for one, don’t have any problem with Irvin’s decision to fight for equality and being an advocate for gay rights or his unconditional love for his brother, who happened to be a homosexual.

But I do, however, have a problem with his decision to pose as if he was some-type of male stripper soliciting sex from men on the cover the magazine.

Irvin’s glassy-eyed stare with his little Lingerie Bowl shoulder pads suggest he is ready to be tackled by some man as he boyishly tugs at his pants revealing his underwear.

After seeing this photo, one has to ask if Irvin is bi-curious or simply slowly coming out the closet himself.

“I’m not gay, but I was afraid to even let anyone have the thought. I can only imagine the agony—being a prisoner in your own mind — for someone who wants to come out. If I’m not gay and I am afraid to mention it, I can only imagine what an athlete must be going through if he is gay.”

For the record, let’s make it clear, I’m not debating whether homosexuals are “born this way” as Lady Gaga suggest. Or whether homosexuality is a result of nature versus nurture. Or whether it is a lifestyle choice. Or a by-product of sexual abuse. Or simply an abomination.

But I am debating whether Irvin’s homoerotic snap-shot actually promotes that same homophobic culture; he claimed to be trying to destroy in the NFL.

Because Irvin could have easily appeared on the cover of this gay magazine dressed in one of his signature seven button church suits.

But, he instead, chose to appear on the gay publication as if he was selling sex. (Read my previously article on BASN entitled Selling Sex for more information).

I guess Out magazine’s cover of Irvin will create a little media buzz and frenzy as well as satisfy some white man’s twisted football fantasy but it won’t end homophobia in the NFL.

Neither will Men’s Journal photograph of a gun-totting James Harrison stop the helmet-to-helmet hits.

But I hope this article does change the way Black athletes choose to have themselves photographed.