Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beating a dead horse: Dissecting the controversy surrounding the flying squirrel

"Vury vury niiiiiiice. Here's an acorn vur yuuuuu"
 Gabby Douglas is America's newest sweetheart. She has become an internet queen, her smile is making the rooster jealous on the Corn Flakes box, and she is making nice with the first family of the United States. Rock on girl.  


She's even being immortalized in terrible YouTube videos by Asian rappers who are desperately trying to land a VH1 reality show: 

Gabby has a lot going for her right now. Becoming America's newest darling is no easy feat. Establishing herself with longevity is key to her success. Just ask Carly Patterson. 

Um...well. Just no. 

Longevity is certainly looking imminent for Douglas. However, none of the other three all-around queens of American gymnastics dealt with the level of scrutiny Gabby has faced since her big win. As the first African American to win an individual gymnastics gold medal (be still your heart Dominique Dawes), Gabby's marketability carries extra weight. Let's take a look at some of the controversies swirling around her image and her nickname.

The Nickname

We all know it by now...The flying squirrel. First let's get the story from Gabby herself:




This is what I have to say about that.....

I can only imagine how condescending the nickname is if Marta "uses it all the time." Uh, Marta, I know all the girls look like they haven't lost any teeth yet, but the girl is 16....not six.

Speaking of Marta, let's take a look at her take on it:

Are ya sure vodka isn't in that bottle Marta is gulping down? I have a feeling that is exactly how she came up with the nickname -- already four shots in after the women's team final at the 2011 world championships, Marta was feeling pretty loose and letting her mouth run free the way she would when Bela farts in bed. And the rest you could say...is history. 

Regardless of this racist talk, I find a much more pertinent question at hand --- 

what the hell is a flying squirrel anyway?

Are they supernatural creatures that are the Clark Kent's of the squirrel world? Are they mystical? Are they a conceived project of Steve Jobs? Do they even freakin exist? 

A quick look at wikipedia answered my question. 

Ok...so what is up with flying squirrels and gymnastics?

"Shit, this pak salto is going nowhere."

Some research provided me with some important facts. Flying squirrels are "glider" animals. Don't you dare get them confused with birds or bats, because those animals fly. Instead, flying squirrels can jump and glide up to 90 meters (295 ft. for all you Americans) by pulling out their fluffy tail as their brake to prepare them to land on a tree trunk. 

Now I've seen some fucked up squirrels in my lifetime. They love to attack any object or person within a 10 foot radius of their acorns. I can only imagine what the "flying" type are all about.  They sound downright freaky. Frankly, the name flying squirrel is mute...they don't even fly dammit. They glide. 

Am I gliding or am I flying? That is the question. 

Realistically, we need to ditch this nickname for Gabby. Flying squirrels are messed up creatures who themselves are inadequately profiled. Let's just do away with it altogether.....ya dig?

The Hair

"Werk the weave girl. Werk it." 
Since we all have nothing better to talk about, we might as well make the topic of Gabby Douglas' hair a national phenomenon on social media. Welcome to America 2012. 

Don't you dare talk smack about my locks, ya foolz. 

The way I see it is this: if we are gonna bitch about anybody's hair, I think we have more guilty subjects to dissect.

Blonde and beaten.
I ain't no hair dresser, but it only takes a man with at least one eyeball to see that Nastia Liukin's hair at the 2012 trials was just a hot mess. 

At least she can blame it on the hairdo.

Or take Miley Cyrus' new haircut.

Hannah Montana is pissed.

If she's going for lesbian mail carrier...she's doing pretty good.

Even if Gabby hasn't kept up with her hair for 16 years, I'm sure investing into buying a comb will not be a problem for her anymore. I mean seriously, she's gonna be as bedazzled as Beyonce before we know it.

Sneak peak at Gabby's floor routine in Rio.

But until then, we’ll be watching Gabby blow kisses to the sun as we watch with glimmering eyes over our precious little star--messy hair, condescending nickname and all. 


  1. I hope that Abby Lee does Gabbys floor like she does for Nia. I liked the dance where she was queefing.

  2. I Love this!..made my night..I am reading in between doing embroidery work for Level 2's for a gym in Texas! I still don't get Gabby's hair problem..maybe I have just been watching too many NCAA meets..where hair is always interesting..

  3. 1. Referencing a black person o any animal is a touchy subject..due to the history of(and current often times) American race relations.

    2. The hair thing is coming from black people mostly. Gabbys weave is just a bad weave job. Her real hair is gelled back over a weave. While I think its irrelevant, thereal problem is that she's in Iowa where Im sure there arent too many black hair specialists.

    3. All of this negative referencing of Dawes is really disappointing. This woman would love for Gabby to come along and top ALL of her records and accomplishments. The media placing them together all over London and the constant referencing is for obvious, valid reasons. 16 years between true black contenders speaks volumes about the sport, and the constant referencing is to be expected in a sport where you're often the only 1 in the room that looks like you.

    1. "16 years between true black contenders speaks volumes about the sport"

      You obviously don't follow gymnastics. Daiane Dos Santos from Brazil has been on the scene since 2002 and is the first black World Champion (FX, 2003). Kayla Williams is the first and only black World Champion from the US (VT, 2009). Okino was the first black Olympic medalist (bronze, 1992 TF) whereas Dawes was the first black Olympic gold medalist (1996 TF). You make it sound like Dawes is the only black woman to have achieved anything in gymnastics, which isn't true at all. Dawes is the black woman with the most gymnastics medals in World and Olympic competition, which is a remarkable thing, but Dawes never won a major title (AA or EF).

    2. And Okino was the first black World medalist from the US (silver in TF; bronze on BB, 1991).

    3. You forgot Ashley Postell from the US. 2002 World BB champ. Tasha Schwikert is also a World Champion (2003 team) and as of 2010 an Olympic bronze medalist. Stella Umeh also made some world EFs on beam and floor in the early 90s. Also isn't Mattie Larson half black? If so she's a world silver medalist.

      This is not to take away from Dawes and Douglas. What they did was truly great, but there are other Black gymnasts who have done great things and deserve credit too.

    4. Forgot to mention Ashley Miles. 2001 World Bronze medal in the team final.

    5. Kyla is a 1/4 black too if we are talking about mixed races. Since 1991 we have had some diversity within our gymnastics teams.

  4. This is how real flying squirrels look like:

    Referencing any person of any race to an animal is a touchy subject. Wasn't it Johnny who called Evan mongoose? Turned out Evan wasn't familiar with the animal.

  5. This is what it means to be African American/Black. Extra scrutiny a practical "microscope." My advice for Gabby is to keep doing gymnastics and focus on Rio. The America's sweetheart schtick will where thin fast. And that is why Shawn & Nastia tried hasty comebacks too late for both of them. In addition, she should attend school and graduate by the time she is 18.

  6. Wasn't the flying squirrel in Rocky and Bullwinkle (aka Rocky) the brains of the operation? Better than being the Flying Tomato in my opinion.

  7. @anon 10:19-

    I was referencing black American AA contenders. Okino AND Dawes won bronze in 92, making them both the first black Oly medalists. And like I stated before, it was 16 yrs btwn black AA contenders for the U.S.

  8. Gabby is hardly America's sweetheart. Every 4 year gym fans think she sounds like she is retarded.

  9. The original article criticizing Gabby's hair ALSO CRITICIZED Aly's hair but too many black people want to whine about racism even when there is no racism.

    Gym fans have been critical of all these gymnasts hair the entire year. Less you forget the comments about Nastia and Mckayal's hair at Nationals or Alicia's hair or Aly's hair.

    Am I the only one that actually reads about this sport before an Olympics year?

    1. Black people aren't whining about racism. The media is whining about racism. Black women are the ones who made the original comments about Gabby's hair.

  10. Really hopes she tries for Rio and does not allow all the media attention (both negative and positive) to change her. She has not hit her peak and it would be exciting to watch her keep growing as a gymnast. It's been a while since someone has a lasting impact a la Michelle Kwan on gymnastics.

  11. @anon 4:35

    Please have several seats! Racism is real..just do your part in not condoning it. Black ppl dont whine about it, its a problem; it'd be nice to live in a world where we accept ppl as humans and individuals, but unfortunately thats not 2012 America or the worldwe live in. A Black girl wins and it rears it's ugly head left n right. Gabby wins..so lets go after Dawes. Its extremely pathetic in 2012.

  12. Man she's got to do something about that ugly ass lopsided tkachev. I don't care how much height she gets on it, she's cheating the skill by moving her legs to the right so she can see the bar better to catch it. Can't wait until storm dies down so I don't have to read about people crying racism and whining about hair.

    Speaking of the racism topic, seems like the only people dwelling on the color of this girls skin are the people who also have that same color. How many times do we have to hear about "the first African-American" AA winner? After we got a black president, all the "firsts" are pretty much used up. If an African-American took a shiz while riding a skydiving horse would your first reaction be...."wow that's the first black person to ever do that" they are such an inspiration? My guess is that Oprah, Condi and the First Lady would definitely jump on that train. I personally am just sick to death of it.

  13. Well umight not like it, but it holds weight for a young blk girl to win the AA,. IT'S been 16 yrs since a blk american girl had a real chance. Bball, track..not so much..but gymnastics...def noteworthy when a young blk girl wins the oly AA

    1. Agreed. One of the previous posters could count, how many, five or six podium-reaching black female gymnasts in the sport since the 80s. Five or six internationally, not only from the U.S. There may have been a handful of others (Elvire Teza comes to mind), but it is a very small handful. Compare that against the GROUPS of Caucasian gymnasts from the U.S. alone. And if one of them gets injured, you bet they are much more likely to be replaced by another white athlete than they would be by a black athlete. It is improving and getting better as far as general racial representation goes, but all things considered elite black gymnasts remain a sliver of the total elite gymnast population -- they are most certainly a minority.

  14. I think it does mean a lot. While I imagine Gabby's noticed that she's probably often the only white person in the gym, or definitely a minority in the gym as far as race goes, I wonder if she agrees with the hype around her race and the AA medal. I have gotten the impression she doesn't fully grasp it, or perhaps doesn't want to be defined by her race.

    Unfortunately, she can't escape it yet for reasons that sometimes are due to people's exaggeration but also for very valid reasons. Representation -- seeing one's identity represented in public -- bears a tremendous impact on one's sense of self. Anyone who belongs to the majority (white, straight, cissexual, able-bodied, not poor, etc.) may have trouble seeing what the big deal is, but it is indeed a huge deal, especially for audience members who continue to face oppression and injustice because of the aspect of their identity that marks their minority status.

    And, their hair was messy. Not just Gabby's, but McKayla's and Aly's, too.