The friendship former NBA player Dennis Rodman has with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un is not as bizarre as commentators suggest. It certainly seems odd to befriend a man whose government is known for starving its people and imprisoning generations of a family for false crimes against one. And his outburst with CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week in which he essentially accused the American Kenneth Bae, who has been held captive by North Korea since 2012, of deserving an 15-year sentence to hard labor for unspecified crimes was disturbing.
In case you missed it, he said, "Do you understand what he did in this country?" Rodman asked Cuomo. "No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me. Why is he held captive here in this country, why?"
"I would love to speak on this," Rodman rambled on drunkenly (as he later admitted), before quickly switching to a new topic.
But humans love spectacle – think Americans’ fascination with Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga and way back when, Madonna, when she still shocked. They are human equivalents of car wrecks that cause temporary cultural rubbernecking until a new human crash arrives. The tubby young basketball-loving dictator and Mr. Rodman are not sensations in and of themselves, although the lavishly tattooed Rodman who often sported fluorescent hair was temporarily when he played professionally, but they are novel to one another and together, they focus international attention on themselves in a way that neither could alone. Think Jesse Jackson meeting with former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Apart, they are like vinegar and baking soda, but together they cause a media eruption!