Manti Te’o mistery phone paramour is a live person whose name is not Lennay Kekua. That is not the hoax
By Eric Verlo
NOT MY TRIBE - 1/21/2013 2:52PM MDT
You’d think that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o would be overjoyed to learn his internet girlfriend’s death was a hoax, that the person with whom he spent days and nights on the phone is alive and well, even if her name isn’t Lennay Kekua. If it’s true the NFL hot-property had never met this posthumous paramour, but fell in love with her over the course of years on the phone, you’d think the bond would be super-ordinary and he’d be on the first plane to meet his miraculously restored Ophelia. The death “hoax” could have a fairytale ending!
(Maybe I’m overestimating the emotional availability of a football player, but that exclamation could be a pun and a twist.)
Evidently Manti Te’o presumes his fabled “Lennay Kekua” by any other name will not smell as sweet. That’s certainly the conclusion a TV audience is meant to infer. The football star’s sagging enthusiasm for his ex phone pal enamorada suggests he might already know her identity doesn’t it? His business-of-football associates don’t seem to show much curiosity either. Is it that Lennay Kekua’s real identity and physical appearance have to be vetted by Notre Dame or by the NFL before they approve a re-engagement with the Manti entity integral to their business plan? No doubt American Football might also not ready for a gender switch, if the phone passed around the locker room in the persona of “Lennay” turns out to be Manti’s “prankster” friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.
Macho Manti Te’o is entitled to the private life of his choosing, but when the media money machine plumbs real-life drama to pull the nation’s heartstrings, we’re entitled to see what comes up at the end of the line, especially the more feverishly they try to cut it.
Because isn’t there a real chance here for something transformative? Imagine if Manti Te’o is revealed to be gay, what that could do for traditional divisive stereotypes, blessed by football.
Reality television teases us with the charismatic potential of witnessing real life, but carefully scripts what we see to preclude an unpredictable outcome.