LeBron James and the Buttafuoco Point

LeBron James has officially reached my Buttafuoco Point.

Allow me to explain. Back in the Eighties, there was this doughy-looking guy by the name of Joey Buttafuoco and he was all over the news for, like, ever. He was cheating on his wife with a teenage girl, and the girl showed up at his house and shot his his wife, wounding her severely.

It was a terrible story. But there came a point when I realized that I kept getting more and more information about these people and their personal lives, despite the fact that I wasn’t seeking it out and I wasn’t the least bit interested.

I wasn’t pleased by this.

I came to define this phenomenon as the “Buttafuoco Point.” Name a huge national news story of little or zero national importance that’s taken place since the mid-Eighties. Chances are that I know the broad strokes of the story (a little girl was brutally murdered in her home; apparently she used to participate in beauty pageants) but little else.

Why? Because I made it a priority, and an admittedly childish point of pride, to try very hard to know next to nothing about stories like that one. This story doesn’t affect my life in any way and that’s never, ever going to change. It involves the personal lives of complete strangers, and, as the media outlets get more desperate to keep the story in play, an ever-widening circle of peripheral individuals. The only reason why the story even endures through news cycle after news cycle is because…

Okay, I’ve no earthly idea. Whatever: I’m not going to waste my time learning anything about this. I already know way too much about the lives of a bunch of total strangers and I won’t learn more, if I have any say in the matter. I’m going to just sit tight and hope that news outlets eventually stop wasting their time trying to cover it.

So LeBron James reached the Buttafuoco Point earlier today. I was vaguely aware of the name and started seeing it everywhere. Automatic defenses kicked in and any further knowledge of who the man is and why he’s in the news has been pre-emptively obliterated from my consciousness.

Here’s everything I know about him:

1) He’s a basketball player.

2) For some reason, he’s signing with a new team.

And I honestly don’t know why he’s doing that, or why it’s big news. In the back of my mind, I’m wondering if he’s that pro athlete who went to jail for being caught with an unlicensed handgun jammed in his pants. Has he just been released or something?

That’s all I can tell you. At some point, he’ll be appointed to a Cabinet post or design a new Android phone or I’ll develop an interest in basketball and maybe then I’ll willingly read more about him.

But until any of those things happen: BUTTAFUOCO’ed!!!! 

If this catches on, I’m turning the concept into a reality game show  for the FX channel. We’ll have a panel of contestants and the one who answers a series of trivia questions about Buttafuoco-style news stories the least-correctly wins the jackpot. 

(Currently seeking producing partners.)

29 thoughts on “LeBron James and the Buttafuoco Point

  1. Tim

    Apparently LeBron James is a Russian spy, and is going to make commercials for Snap-On Tools. Or something like that.

  2. iConJohn

    Tom and Bill, valid points. But as an Apple and NBA fan, Michael Jordon never would have pulled this egotistical stunt. Expect backlash from every city he doesn’t go to and towards ESPN for this circle jerk infomercial.

  3. Erik

    There is a media angle that is interesting though. Lebron James is controlling this story. He gets a major news network (ESPN) to give him airtime and allow him to sell the ads for his non profit ( donated to the Boys and Girls Club). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111704575355010914298970.html I think this is a media shift. The players are in control of the media instead of beat writers and Team owners. Not that its griping TV. I am not sitting at the edge of my seat. I will not watch the Lebron show tonight.

  4. GregP

    Yeah I’m definitely in on that reality show. We’ll call it “Buttafooey!” and we’ll spill slime on the contestant that actually answers the trivia question correctly.

  5. Kevin

    better than skipping commercials is skipping these stories on the tivo. total waste of freaking time.

  6. clawsout

    Dammit Andy, now I have to Google LeBron James to find out what’s going on. Curious how the very article describing the Buttafuoco Point is also the article that inspires the inquisitiveness which pushes one past that barrier, no?

    That kind of makes you Ozymandias in my book.

  7. Joshua

    I live in Akron OH, where James grew up. He’s a damn good basketball player that’s been turned into a corporate messiah figure. At least he can wear a suit and acknowledges his children.

  8. Deckape

    It’s official, I can’t believe your talking sports. This must have caught your eye to put that nonsense story on a great blog such as this. I can now rollover and hope my bed sore isn’t infected.

  9. Tyler Hurst

    Sports fans make fun of geeks who know everything about computers but nothing about anything else, geeks make fun of sports fans who know everything about athletes and nothing else.

    I bet every sports fan you mention doesn’t give a crap about your writing, but you don’t see them making an issue of it, do you?

  10. Tom Wideman

    In short: Amen. For both recognizing it and putting a name on the phenomenon.

  11. Guy (CouchGuy) McLimore

    I would rather listen to a 20-minute lecture on how only Android and the Open Source Movement can save the world than hear one more word about LeBron James.

    OK, maybe a FIVE minute lecture.

  12. Howlin' Hobbit

    I have had a point similar to this for some time, but it isn’t just about “news” stories nor is it as elegantly named as yours. (I unfortunately remember many details about Joey and his little unwilling menage.) I call it my “dilligaf point,” dilligaf being an acronym taught to me by a friend who was in the Coast Guard when he learned it (thus forever associating it in my mind with the CG).

    I don’t know what kind of naughty filters you have on here and therefore have no idea what this will look like when I push the button, Frank, but it means “Does It Look Like I Give A Fuck?”

    I think that says it so succinctly there ought to be a t-shirt.

  13. Lamar

    I suppose it’s rather appropriate to name this phenomenon after a man whose name sounds like a sexual act one might encounter in an Italian prison.

    I’m just sayin’.


  14. Stephen

    Ha! And when I saw the title of the article I though “Oh No! Not Andy too! What is with this annoying basketball player name I keep hearing?!”. Great article. I agree completely.

  15. ctopher

    The best replay is from the person analyzing the media situation. I’m a sports fan AND an Ihnatko fan. Mr. Ihnatko gets asked to be on TV and he tweets about it so his fans can watch. Mr. James is asked a million and one times where he will play next year so he decides to answer the question one big time and do some good in the process.

    Who has the bigger ego?

    Doesn’t matter. Promotion is business. I’m sure if Mr. Ihnatko was as popular in his arena, and had a career decision that millions of people cared about then he might politely ask those who might profit from disseminating the news to share the profits. Why be exploited by the media for free?

  16. Mike Cohen

    Thank you for posting EXACTLY how I feel. It’s probably even worse here in south Florida – it’s the top story everywhere and the stations even preempted their normal programs last night for the announcement. I don’t give a flying fig about him. It really annoys me that the newscasters assume everyone is interested and report this instead of real news. I’d much rather see news about the oil leak.

  17. Pingback: Wayne's Workshop » Daily Run Down 07/09/2010

  18. David Sheeks

    Andy – Please don’t tell me whether Arnold Palmer’s old rent-a-car ad buddy OJ was guilty or not. I Buttafuoco’d out on that nonsense years ago. You should talk to CNN about renaming their web site BBN (Buttafuoco Bogus News) because that’s the majority of what they post now. And that nonsense is replacing actual newspaper journalism???

  19. Nathan

    I believe that fox news changed news from an informing service to entertaining business. Unfortunately, most other news outlets couldn’t resist the profit motive and we’ve had a race to the bottom ever since. I’m most saddened by CNN, simce I thought they did well to define a news channel. Thank god for PBS, NPR, and Pacifica (and what became of them).

  20. Pingback: Andy Ihnatko and the Buttafuoco Point | Gadfly Mind

Comments are closed.