Friday, April 23, 2010

Daily Kentucky Derby Hype Meme: (Semi) Famous People

The Kentucky Derby is a horse race in Kentucky.

We recognize that our readers are almost certainly aware of that particular datum. Regardless, we feel that it's important to point out, because both the Derby organizers and surrounding community are going pretty far out of their way to hype the idea that the Derby is also a celebrity event.

For example, the Derby's own website has an entire section devoted to the history of celebrity sightings at Churchill Downs, which for some reason tries to plug the continued vitality of the race's celebrity presence by featuring the leering, death's-head visage of LeAnne Rimes on its splash page. Louisville's hometown paper (which also tries, we feel counterproductively, to geographically associate itself with "Southern Indiana") also goes out of its way to pimp the celebrity angle, splashing a banner headline about En Vogue's Derby week performance.

These efforts to convert the Derby into a celebrity event demean both the race and the notional "celebrities" in question. Horse racing is no longer as popular as it once was in the U.S., and attempts to prove the contrary by crowing on about a Nick Lachey appearance really only end up reinforcing the perception of racing's decline.

The Derby needs to have the courage of its convictions. These are the finest trained, most exactingly bred three year old horses in the nation, if not the world. They are fast and powerful and even pretty to look at. So just show us the damn horses, and leave LeAnne and En Vogue in the barn, where they so richly deserve to be. This is not the Golden Globes in L.A. This is a horse race in Kentucky. Cover it accordingly.

Any "story" combining multiple marginal celebrities with a chronicle of the social hierarchy of Southern Indiana is going to rank very high on any sort of B.S. list. So let's give this meme a 9.5, with the perfect 10 averted only because we need to leave room in case the media thinks of anything even stupider once the race draws near.

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