By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, Jan. 4, 2010 — I really can’t believe I am reading complaints from some critics about Dick Clark’s appearance on his annual “Rockin’ Eve” New Year’s special on ABC.
One critic I read actually advised Dick to “hang it up,” indicating that it’s become just too darned awkward or even depressing to watch the aged TV personality — who turned 80 on Nov. 30 — because Dick has become immobilized from the stroke he suffered in 2004. Another critic actually complained that Dick’s slurred speech makes it too difficult to understand him, rendering him — Dick Clark, the consummate broadcaster who happens to be beloved by everyone but these critics — somehow unfit to appear on TV and usher in the New Year.
And at some point in last week’s New Year’s countdown, Dick apparently fumbled ever so slightly on the backward recitation of the seconds ticking down to the new year and the usual anonymous peanut gallery on the Internet wasted no time posting the video in order to jeer at this barely noticeable “screwup.”
It really is an indication of how nasty we’ve become when a beloved national institution such as Dick Clark is harassed mercilessly for having the nerve to appear on television after having a stroke.
Hello? The man had a stroke, for heaven’s sake. It should go without saying, but apparently needs to be said in this thoughtless, mean-spirited era in which we live, that this 80-year-old stroke victim’s willingness to rigorously rehabilitate himself and then agree to put himself out there in public in front of millions of TV viewers represents an act of heroism for which he should be cheered, not jeered.
It just so happens that millions of people have strokes and then struggle in the aftermath to continue leading productive lives. Dick Clark is a hero to these people, and should be a hero to anybody else, stroke victim or otherwise, who possesses the common sense (not to mention decency) to recognize a demonstration of true courage when they see it.
It also just so happens that Dick Clark is one of the finest people you will ever meet in the TV business. To suggest that in choosing to appear in public, seated in a chair because he cannot stand or walk and slurring his speech, Dick Clark just can’t bear to abdicate the limelight is just ridiculous and, knowing Dick, just plain wrong too.
May Dick Clark ring in the New Year for the next 20 years.
Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com