Friday, April 15, 2016

"Driving Miss Wendy;" pitfalls for Bell's return

There’s a palpable sense of relief in Pittsburgh these days, a feeling an ordeal has reached a turning point, that positive resolutions are in store.

Pens up 1-0 in NHL playoffs?


Wendy Bell is back on Facebook!

This is great news for her ardent fans, and they are many.

For them, her absence has been emotionally challenging. Some have felt adrift without her presence, her insights, the reassuring sound of her voice.

I can relate.

I’ve felt that way since 2008 when Myron Cope died.

Bell was a popular Pittsburgh news anchor for 18 years. She was fired after a well-intentioned Facebook post of hers made it seem to some like she was among the victims of a mass murder that claimed the lives of five black men and women and one unborn child.

She concluded by switching to Caucasian benevolence by saying she’d as if by magic been transformed by the sight of a young black man cleaning tables with a “rhythm and step that gushed positivity.”

The youth, later revealed to be Brandon Walker, reported he was thrilled by the attention and Bell’s posted assertion he was “going to Make it.”

Anyone who knows anything about media uproars understands she’d have been better off writing that Sammy Davis Jr. is alive and well and busing tables at the the South Side Cheesecake Factory.

Few unbiased observers think the firing was justified. I wonder if craven bosses thought she was getting too popular or her salary was too high.

Either way, she was canned and many tears were shed.

Given our fixations on news personalities, the reaction was predictable. Many people love Wendy.

Maybe none more than Wendy herself.

This became apparent when upon her return to social media, she began touting her tweets with the PittsburghStrong hashtag, like what happened to her was akin to the Boston Marathon bombing.

A slew of mocking “White Anchor Lives Matter” memes ensued.

That’s why I hope she’s very careful about what she posts because she’s entered a very dangerous realm. Now everything she does and says will be hyper-scrutinized to her detriment.

Because returning to Facebook is one thing.

The real danger will be when she returns to the Cheesecake Factory.

I fear she’s going to turn into Daisy Werthan and hire young Walker to be her Hoke Colburn. 

Yes, it’ll be “Driving Miss Wendy.”

It’s the potential parody of “Driving Miss Daisy,” a 1989 movie starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. It won four Academy Awards and I remain confounded one of them wasn’t Most Boring Picture.

I remember hearing the accolades and thinking, man, this has got to be great and that “Driving Miss Daisy” would be a metaphor for something interesting. I thought at some point one was going to take out a gun and shoot the other or that the quaint Southern town would be scandalized when police found the black driver putting it to the old white babe in the back seat of the 1949 Hudson Commodore.

But none of that happened. It turned out a movie called “Driving Miss Daisy” was simply about a guy who drove around a widow woman named Daisy.

It was appalling.

And it is what I fear will happen when Bell returns to the Cheesecake Factory.

I believe Bell is now suffering from delusions of grandeur. She feels, not without justification, she is a beacon in race relations. Certainly, she feels like she’s in a position where she can make a difference and the obvious recipient of her good will is Walker.

I can see her thinking it would be good PR if she hired him to be either her butler or chauffeur. That way should could tutor him and earn street cred when he “Makes it.”

And if the kid gets a speeding ticket while he’s driving her around she could influence the only “race” issue she’s capable of resolving.

Oh, to live in an America where our only race issues involved reckless drivers!

As it is, it’s enough to drive us all crazy.

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