Larry Mantle

Kobe Bryant meets the "God of Carnage"

Thursday morning on AirTalk, we heard from listeners about Kobe Bryant’s anti-gay slur that was picked up by a TV microphone and cameras during Tuesday night’s Lakers game at Staples Center.  Bryant was fined $100,000 by the NBA and issued a series of apologies throughout Wednesday.

It opened up a fascinating listener-led conversation about how some men use the term, or even the word “gay” as a pejorative.  This connects with the idea that, for some men, attacking a man’s manliness or sexuality is the ultimate challenge.  Kobe essentially copped to that in his apology, describing how angry he was in the moment when he let fly with the invective.

I was also thinking about the Kobe incident as it related to the comedic plot of the play, “God of Carnage,” which opened Wednesday night at the Ahmanson Theater downtown.  Yasmina Reza’s script takes us from a seemingly civilized pair of married couples trying to deal with the aftermath of one of the couple’s kids knocking out two teeth of the child of the other couple’s, to the gradual unveiling of the highly uncivilized feelings that lurk just beneath the surface. 

The cast of Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini, and Marcia Gay Harden is hilarious.  This is an acting clinic, featuring the highest level pros at the top of their games.  I wouldn’t expect the play to become a staple, as it’s rather predictable on where it’s going.  However, it’s a wonderful framework from which the actors can do their thing.  They walk a comedic tightrope, avoiding sitcom shtick, but leaving us laughing throughout.

How does this fictional story relate to Kobe?  Well, one of the prominent questions asked following Bryant’s outburst is whether he harbors anti-gay feelings, which were only exposed under stress.  Beyond his slur, there don’t appear to be any other incidents that would reveal such a bias.  However, as “God of Carnage” makes clear, our uncivilized and bigoted attitudes may not lie far beneath the surface.

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