Point or Counterpoint: A
New Year's Mistake? - January 6
Now I know one of the biggest stories at the end of
2005 was the return of Dick Clark to television on New
As most of you know, Clark suffered a stroke after
announcing to the world he had diabetes. One of his last
public appearances before the stroke was at Game Show
Congress 3 in 2004.
Most people in the news including stroke victims have
lauded Clark for his courage to come out and perform a
year after the stroke. But was it courageous?
The highest profile stroke victim before this to come
out after he had a stroke was Kirk Douglas. He had a
stroke in 1995, and has done three films since. He wrote
a book called "My Stroke of Luck". But Kirk Douglas will
never be the same as he was before the stroke.
But I think a lot of people are not willing to admit the
truth about what happened this past weekend. I was at a
party and we turned on "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and we
Dick Clark looked horrible and sounded worse.
This was the one thing I didn't want to do. I wanted to
remember the man who has entertained us for over 50
years. This was a pale shell of his former self.
I pitied him. This was like rubbernecking at a car
So to all the people who called it courageous, think
about what you saw? Is this how you want to remember
Dick Clark? Do you want to remember him as the man who
was the American Icon of American Bandstand, Pyramid, et
Or do you want to remember him as a man who should have
passed the torch gracefully to Ryan Seacrest and kept
his work up behind the scenes?
You make the call.
Usually, Im the guy that would pour
Haterade all over a
situation. So with that in mind, this is a very, very
weird position for me to take, as I am probably the only
person on staff who not only wasnt saddened, but who
actually enjoyed and appreciated what I witnessed on New
Years Eve as Dick Clark took the podium for his annual
all know, this was the first appearance on national
television by Clark since a stroke felled him in 2004.
He missed that years celebration which upset many a
game show person myself
included. Thousands of people gathered to see what form
that Dick Clark was going to show up in. As to what they
saw? Well, some people saw a man who looked every bit of
the age of 76 who thought was embarrassing himself by
showing up on television. Some people saw the fall
and/or disillusionment of an icon.
did I see? I saw one incredible performance by an
amazing individual that compelled me to watch the show
for as long as he was on the air. Then again, I
traditionally see things differently, and my background
for this past year allowed me to see this show in a much
Earlier on this year, my dad contracted
Bells Palsy. Now
Bells Palsy is a treatable
condition and my father (fortunately) is completely over
it, but one of the effects of the condition is to
literally have half of your face frozen in place (think
Jack Nicholsons character in Batman). Needless to say,
this is socially debilitating enough for a loved one to
have to deal with this on a daily basis for months. Now
imagine if your face looked like the cheese on a pizza
that was caught in a tornado. Would you go out to eat?
Grocery Store? You are guaranteed to have people
at the very least stare at you. My
dad wanted nothing to do with that, and fortunately,
since my mom and myself were both within driving
distance, we carted food and anything else that he
needed over to him. I would most likely think that
almost all of you would have the exact same reaction
that my dad did.
take that condition and add to it the fact that you have
to relearn how to talk. You have to relearn how to move
and you may not completely be able to do all of that.
Most people cant completely recover from a stroke at
the age of 35. This is a 76 year old man we are talking
about. Most of you guys dont want to go out on the
street if you are having a bad hair day. Try going out
every day for more than a year knowing that people will
stare at you because you look weird and you cant walk
or talk properly.
try doing this in front of 10 million people.
doing this in an industry where the most important thing
is what you can visually ascertain on your television
set and I am guessing that Clark wouldnt be able to
come within 5,000 yards of a studio if it wasnt his
company that was producing this. And yes, we all know
the camera was purposely held back so we didnt have to
see his body shaking or his mouth quiver as he tried to
speak. But it wasnt about that. It wasnt about looking
good. It was about having the guts to say, Yes, I had a
stroke. Yes, I am not back to 100%. But I will show you
all that it wont stop me from what I want to do and if
you put your mind to it, it wont stop you either. He
was the poster boy for everyone who has had that sort of
debilitating disease and he showed you that life doesnt
end. This is the man that I idolized being like when I
was a kid, and the moments when he counted the ball down
to 2006 confirmed to me that the time I spent Idolizing
this great man did not go to waste.
December 31, 2005, in an age where image is everything,
one man defied it all and reversed the trend, showing
all of us that despite all of the pretty people that we
watch on television, we as humanity still like to see
the triumph of the human spirit, regardless of what form
it takes. On December 31, 2006, I will be watching Dick
Clarks New Years
Bash, and if Dick is hosting it, I will be watching it
for every minute and realizing what an honor it is to be
watching this sort of person work his magic one more
Clark, I wish you nothing but the best for you in 2006.
Jason Block is Gordon's favorite mistake. E-mail him
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Gordon Pepper is Jason's
favorite mistake. Email him at email@example.com.