24x24 Wide Open with Jeff Gordon - DVD Review
Instead, what I was offered last week was 24x24 Wide Open with Jeff Gordon. Even though I'm not a NASCAR fan (and if I was a NASCAR fan, I probably wouldn't be a Jeff Gordon fan), I took it to review. Why? Because it was free, dammit.
On to the review...
What is this thing you're reviewing?
It's a DVD that covers 24 hours in the life of Jeff Gordon. I suspect, however, that the day might have been a "composite day" made up of several weeks worth of filming. If not, the only other person who does more in 24 hours is Jack Bauer.
There's also an interview section conducted by Dr. McDreamy (I'm not joking) and a Biography-type history of Jeff's life.
Is the Biography piece fair and balanced?
Let me answer that Dennis Miller style: 24x24 Wide Open with Jeff Gordon makes the documentary Amber Waves made about Dirk Diggler look like an attack piece. Seriously, I watched this DVD with Leni Reifenstahl and she turned to me when it was over and said, "Gee, that was a little one-sided, wasn't it?"
You're not an NASCAR fan -- why should you be reviewing this?
As an emotionally stunted American male, I love sports more than I do my family or friends, but no matter how many times ESPN throws NASCAR highlights into Sportscenter, I still can't help but think of it as a skill more than a sport. Sure, it's a really difficult skill to master and I certainly couldn't do it at the professional level, but the same might be said for plate spinning or unicycle riding.
That being said, I am not unsympathetic to the marginalized sports fan. Ever since Bill Simmons decided to follow the EPL (which he followed through on about as well as I have on completing my novel), I've been a dedicated fan of Tottenham Hotspur. When you tell people that you're a soccer fan in this country they figure you're either an affected snob or a crazed anglophile and they immediately write your fandom off.
Now, if you're a NASCAR fan and you're reading this, you're probably saying to yourself: hey, I'm not marginalized! NASCAR is by varying accounts, the second or third most popular sport in the country! How dare you write-off the sport of choice in America's heartland! You're an elitist East Coaster who spends his time sipping Chardonnay and discussing with your friends from prep school how glad you are that you weren't born in "flyover country"!
Well, sure, all those things are true (especially the delicious Chardonnay I'm drinking right now), but you have to admit that to the mainstream press (which, like it or not, is located on the coasts) NASCAR is basically a sideshow for rednecks. Let's put it this way: if someone told you he was a huge NASCAR fan, you would be surprised to find out that he was a professor of psycholinguistics at M.I.T. (and if anyone has info that Steven Pinker is a NASCAR fan, please email it to me and I'll eat my words).
I wanted to review this so I might find some insight into the subculture and maybe, just maybe, find a little fandom in me. I'm not against NASCAR, I just haven't seen anything to like about it just yet.
What knowledge of NASCAR did you bring with you on your Jeff Gordon adventure?
I've toured down south several times and I've learned the following things about NASCAR:
1) People really like the numbers 3 and 8.
2) NASCAR fans have a much higher preponderance of crazy-awesome mustaches.
3) If you mention Jeff Gordon on stage, at least one person will yell the word "gay!" at the top of his lungs.
Wait a second, did you just say "gay"?
It seems that to the traditional NASCAR fan, Jeff Gordon is a less-than-manly driver. Part of it (at least according to the DVD, which covers the hatred of Jeff briefly and with kid-gloves) is due to the fact that he's a good looking guy who is well-spoken. NASCAR fans like their drivers rough and tumble, with pock-marks and belt-buckles so huge they actually affect the drag-coefficient on their cars.
I happen to think there's another reason -- his nickname is the "Rainbow Warrior." I've got 9 credits of mandated gender politics courses under my belt, and I think that name is gay. What other names were considered? "The Rear Spoiler"? "Kid Vagina"? "The I'dliketokissamanonthemouthjustoncetoseewhatitfeelslike Warrior"?
I think a good rule of thumb is when you're dealing down south, best to keep rainbows as far away from your name as possible.
(It also doesn't help when you decide to produce a DVD about yourself and get Patrick Dempsey to be your interviewer. There was so much sexual tension between Jeff and him, I wanted to shout at the screen, "Just kiss each other and get it over with already!")
Who is this DVD for, anyway?
A DVD like this is like watching a stranger's baby videos. If you're not already inclined to the like subject of the video, it's a pretty torturous ride. There's nothing revealing about Jeff Gordon or the subculture that is NASCAR. Mostly, it's a valentine to a man whose most entertaining attribute is that so many of the people who love the sport he competes in hate him so much. If the video had explored more of that hatred rather than, oh I don't know, showing us forty minutes of Jeff building hospitals for sick kids or going shark-fishing, there may have been some appeal for the non-Gordon fanatic.
So you're giving it a negative review?
Here's what I'm saying... you should buy this DVD immediately if one of the following things about you is true:
1) You love Jeff Gordon and would like to see 90 minutes him in focus so soft that Barbara Walters thinks it's a little over the top.
2) You get a good feeling inside whenever you see a celebrity doing charity work while on camera because you think they do that every day and it's not just for publicity purposes.
3) You've recently bought the Jeff Gordon branded 24 energy drink and you're curious as to whether Jeff had any input on the design of the can's flames. (*****SPOILER ALERT***** he did!)
4) It would gratify you to see celebrities commenting on Jeff Gordon's greatness. Brian Williams and Kelly Ripa both agree: Jeff Gordon is tops.
If none of that applies to you, I can't give this a recommendation. It's not good enough to absorb you if you don't already love Jeff Gordon and it's not bad enough to enjoy on an ironic level. It's disappointing to me that I now own a NASCAR DVD and I can't even invite my stupid friends over to get drunk and make fun of it.
Are you worried that NASCAR fans might find anything that you've said in this review offensive?
Well, sure, I imagine I'll take a lot of heat... in 2019 when they finally get the internet. (I kid! I kid the NASCAR Dads! With love!)
Where can I buy this DVD?
Right here, skippy.