When I mentioned on Facebook that I was excited to watch the 30 for 30
documentary on Christian Laettner, several people from my past responded, "Well, of course you are." Apparently I was not quiet about my "Crush-tian Laettner" back in the day.
I know, as a Butler alumna (heck, as a human being), I'm supposed to hate all things Duke, but my love for Christian Laettner precedes even my knowing that Butler University is an actual thing that exists.
What I learned from I Hate Christian Laettner is that everyone pretty much hates the idea of Christian Laettner. They hate what he stands for -- Duke basketball, the Cobra Kai of the NCAA. They hate that he stomped on that kid from Kentucky. (I hate that too, to be honest.) They hate that he's a a pretty white dude who had every advantage growing up. (No, he didn't, is what this 30 for 30 was intent on driving home.) Most of all, they hate that he was really, really good at basketball.
I love Christian Laettner because what you see is what you get. He's not trying to get you to like him. He has no interest in you liking him. He's that refreshing brand of celebrity who sticks his foot in his mouth and gets caught stomping on other player's chests. He's imperfect. He's Gwyneth Paltrow and Kanye West, whom I'd much rather see in action than someone who's actually concerned about his image, like Jennifer Lawrence or Will Smith. What are they hiding? Who are they fooling? The celebrities we love to hate put it all out there on the table, and WE CAN'T TAKE IT. We want to put them in their place. Or, well, you do. I want them to keep on keeping on.
For me, Christian Laettner is the perfect love interest for a young adult novel. His outer douchebag is hiding a warm, caramel center, if only the right woman (or man) can access it (or else he's a Patrick Bateman-esque psycho, which could also be interesting). He's the blue collar kid who has perfectly integrated himself into a white collar education system, so much so that he became the poster boy for that system. He's someone who was bullied as a kid and became a bully as an adult. He thinks tough love is love. He's celebrated and booed in equal measure. He's a man whose legend has become caricature to the point where his detractors don't see him as human.
You all can have your Daniel LaRussos. I'm more interested in what makes Johnny Lawrence tick.
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