"Life Is but Brett Favre and Zac Efron, Strutting and Fretting Their Hours Upon the Stage..."
When Brett Favre announced his retirement last week, he cried, his fans cried and everybody understood: All playing careers come to an end. No matter how many games you start, no matter how many touchdowns you throw, no matter. An athlete's career is finite, something to be treasured as well as celebrated.
A teen idol's career is also finite. No matter how many magazine covers you land, no matter how many posters you sell, no matter. The game ends. It's not that you lose your skills, the way an aging All-Pro would, it's that you lose your youth, or, as more often is the case, the fickle youth who comprise your fan base lose you. And yet when, say, Zac Efron's run comes to an end, as it surely will, I suspect no one will be crying. With the possible exception of Zac Efron's entourage. The greater world, alas, does not mourn the teen idol, if for no other reason than the male half of the greater world came to despise the teen idol for stealing the attention of the female half of the greater world.
If only Zac Efron could, like Brett Favre, call a press conference, and retire. Not that he should. Not that he wants to. But it's too bad just the same.
If Zac Efron stood before a row of microphones, and explained he just didn't have it in him anymore to unbutton his shirt for the enjoyment of 12-year-old girls, then maybe we'd get it. If he announced that he couldn't buy a job, not with all his High School Musical millions, then maybe we'd get it. If he argued that asking an in-demand teen idol to make do as a sporadically working actor would be like asking a quarterback to shift to second-string right guard, then maybe we'd get it. If only he pointed out that he had no front-office opportunities to explore, no coaching offers, and no broadcast opportunities outside of reality shows, then maybe we'd get that it's better for him to get out now, his dignity intact -- assuming you don't count the beefcake mousepads.
If only. Then maybe we'd fight back the Favrean tears. Mourn for Wildcats everywhere. And wave our hands up in the air.
Or, at the very least, maybe we'd just let him be. As we would a Brett Favre. And simply respect that what both men once did, and who they once were, are no more.
(Originally published by Joal Ryan on March 11, 2008.)
c. Joal Ryan