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"I Was Like, Whatever...": On Lochte Abroad and Idiocy at Home

Ryan Lochte, member of the U.S. olympic swim team, fabricated a story about being robbed while in Brazil for the 2016 Summer Games. (Screenshot with overlay)

This is the current American quote that sums up where it's all come to. The degradation of culture, the hip anti-intellectual posture, the hollow reality shows, the prevailing mean smugness and the flat screen mesmerizing of the American tribe has brought us to, "I was like, whatever."

This is the quote of a famous American with oddly colored hair. He claims this was his response to a man pointing a gun at his head and telling him to get on the ground.

The first part – "I was like..." The linguistic Zika virus – "like." Not "I was" or "I am" or "I shall be." No. "I was like," meaning an approximation of reality. This is the current subconscious cover for the dread of a real feeling—or real moment—or the real story.

I suppose this hapless, entitled fellow with the bright dimpled smile thought he'd get some mileage out of a war story. And when you live in a pool of approximation anchored to the word "Like" maybe it doesn't seem so wrong. He may have played a flat screen version of this story in his head and then he downloaded it into the ear of a reporter named Bush, which adds another wrinkle to the event of an international, malicious, scandalous fib.

The story was nothing that actually happened but maybe he could contort events to be something that he could say happened. And much like the other man with the odd colored hair, saying it makes it so. Good lesson from the national aspiring father figure.

Lies of omission

So it's a cluster of colorful details strung together in a city with a reputation where this might be believed from a golden boy from the greatest country on earth. What can go wrong? And like, get on a plane before anything does.


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The last part of the famous quote – "whatever." So this was the retort to the trumped up bad ass Brazilian who put a gun to his head. "I was like, whatever."

"Whatever" has a dismissive air about it. You're not going to do anything and so I'll play your little scenario and then let me be on my fabulous way. That was the impression one gets from this response. Not – "What do you want? – Please don't shoot me – I'll give you whatever you ask – I can't believe this is happening." No – golden boy was like, "whatever."

These are snarky, smart-ass dismissive pellets – "whatever" – "wherever" – "whoever." The other oddly crowned golden boy uses these fragments of spittle. The query or situation doesn't deserve the consideration of specificity. Or, I am not going to stoop to an answer you are not worthy of. So this is what you'll get – "whatever."

So our American Olympian in his fabled, confabulated encounter knew exactly what this punk Brazilian character deserved. "Whatever."

As a water-logged product of a wide vapid portion of American non-culture, our Olympic ambassador to Brazil has given us a kind of mini-me version of our Republican candidate.

Both rising out of the same cauldron of deception,  anti-intellectualism, entitlement and fantasy. Both ducking genuine narratives – both weaving phantasms in which each is victim and hero. Both, when on the verge of being busted cuts to: "No – no – this is what happened – I'll tell you what happened." Lie – word salad – Lie – then the quote that says it all, because it says nothing. "I was like, whatever."

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis was a playwright, writer, actor, and political activist.  He has been a contributor to Common Dreams since 2001. Bill died on February 26, 2021, at age 69, after a battle with COVID-19. Bill's Broadway debut — “Mass Appeal,” earned two Tony nominations and became a staple of community theater. Bill wrote the screenplay for the 1984 film adaptation of "Mass Appeal," starring Jack Lemmon and Zeljko Ivanek. Bill's personal website is here.

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