Marilyn's Musings

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The latest chapter in the Ted Williams story: Vicki Lawrence’s video

A few weeks ago, we saw the incredible tale of a homeless man, Ted Williams, unfold.

For those out of the loop, Williams had a successful career in radio, most notably in doing voice overs. His career was derailed due to a troubled life which included drugs, alcohol, and several convictions. He was alienated from his family as a result. He was rediscovered on the streets of Columbus, Ohio, by a member of the local press who took interest in the Man With The Golden Voice.

His story was picked up nationally and snowballed from there. Jettisoned from the streets to the studios of NBC and others, he began a trek back to reuniting with family and restoring his career.

No one can dispute that much of what happened in his life was a result of his own poor choices and actions.  No one can say for sure at this point if his story will have a positive, happy ending or if he will fail because of his addictions and his past pattern of mistakes.

But one thing, he does deserve the chance to redeem himself, same as every single person alive on this planet. We all make poor choices. Maybe not to the extent as Mr. Williams, but we all have made mistakes or choices that have formed us and shaped the paths we are walking.

But that really isn’t the issue here. The issue is that after the initial good-feeling, warm fuzzies characteristics of this story had passed, various members of the press and of the entertainment industry have taken to criticizing and judging this man.

As far as the pundits go, I take what they say with a grain of salt. It’s their bread-and-butter to create controversy with their analysis of issues. If they weren’t provocative, they wouldn’t stay in business for very long and might also find themselves out on the street some day as well. Along with that, I am betting some hope Williams will fail since he checked into rehab. It will give them more fodder to chew on.

What really bothered me, though, was when Vicki Lawrence came out with her parody and video of Williams and the homeless in general. Her video, done behind the guise of her character, Mama Harper, rips into him and the homeless in general. It can be said it is a satire/commentary. But it can also be said that it was done without much forethought and was insensitive and in extremely poor taste. I also would like to see what Ms. Lawrence feels without standing behind the shield of her character. That is the crux of the issue here. We just don’t know how she herself feels. View it here and decide for  yourself:

Personally, I thought it was in poor taste. If it was done as a social commentary, I think it failed. Why?  Vicki Lawrence has never been one to speak out on what her position is on many issues. If we knew beforehand that she was a supporter of helping the homeless and downtrodden or her views about the press and commentators, I think most of us would be able to accept and understand that this was her commentary on how so many in the media and general public feel about this man, that he doesn’t deserve a second chance and he brought the whole Karma of his life down on his own head.

As I previously mentioned, I feel that there are many who are circling overhead, waiting for him to fail,  so they will have even more to swoop in and feast on. Without further explanation, this video seems to reflect that cynicism and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe they are right and it will, but let’s give this man this chance to redeem himself.

Most of all,  I don’t wish to sound cynical myself. But I find it rather ironic that Lawrence herself rose from the ranks of the everyday people to celebrity status and a successful career when she wrote to Carol Burnett that she could pass for her little sister. Intrigued by the letter and the enclosed photo, Burnett contacted Vicki and gave her a start in a successful career in TV comedy.  Although she wasn’t an addict who undermined a successful career, Lawrence also had her own fairy tale start as well. I can’t help thinking that she has forgotten her own lucky breaks.

In her defense, I hope she does come out and offers some explanation of her motives behind making this video. It would greatly clear the air for many, myself included.


2 responses to “The latest chapter in the Ted Williams story: Vicki Lawrence’s video

  1. Wil February 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I guess “humor” is subjective. I thought it was hilarious. I didn’t take it as serious. I don’t believe Lawrence did either, nor do I feel she’s “hiding behind her character” to take a shot at someone’s sudden good fortune after being addicted to drugs and alcohol. And we don’t know what this man did to get his drugs and alcohol before he became homeless and while being homeless.

    Should I feel sorry for this man? No. Am I happy that he’s been given another chance? Yes. Everyone deserves to make amends to their life. But we don’t know how many times others tried to help, and what he did to others while getting help.

    I don’t see this any different than a comedian going up on stage, poking fun of “current events”. That’s what I see Vicki is doing here. Life is never fair. And surely, I don’t like the idea of people making fun of people’s misfortune, but it happens. And sometimes, we have to realize some people put themselves there on their own accord.

    • mynameismarilyn February 15, 2011 at 5:29 am

      Good points. However, I think that a little explanation would have been in order. The other thing is, often humor is used not only as a commentary, but as a weapon. It is a double-edged sword.

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