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2012 Summer OlympicsMedia Monster

Counterpoint: Ryan Lochte Is Secretly A Genius Who’s Laughing At Us

I’m like you. I’ve enjoyed my share of laughs at the expense of Ryan Lochte’s less-than-stellar interviews. I’ve thought about how America wants to bang him despite his not being the most articulate guy. And I’ve come to the same conclusion you probably have: great swimmer, handsome gent… and not a lot going on between the ears. Who could blame anyone for thinking that? Saying seven times four is 21. “The reason why I love swimming is because racing.” The guy gave all of us ample evidence to think he wasn’t the brightest.

But it some cases, it was balanced out by moments of genuine charm. If you go to the end of the now-infamous BuzzFeed “Ryan Lochte is terrible at interviews” video, you hear him get asked a question about being cool. His response:

“I… guess. I mean, I don’t really see myself as being cool, but thanks.” [laughs]

That, it sounded to me, at least, was a guy who really was taken aback at the idea that anyone would see him as the picture of coolness. It was a sign of a real person underneath the caricature we were all having our fun with. And then that Funny or Die sketch about peeing in the pool? It wasn’t bad, and at times, neither was Lochte’s own performance. Yeah, there was some stiff line-reading, but at other moments: competent! Maybe none of us had given this guy quite enough credit. One of the many comments this post received also gave me pause:

He is GOOFY people and he loves milking that because its funny. It’s pretty obvious he isn’t dumb but a la many before him, he will laugh all the way to the bank.

Could it be? Could Lochte really be playing us all for fools as he ups his trolling game to greater and greater heights? It made me think, but my ultimate answer was, “No.” There just wasn’t enough there to support that idea. Sure, at times he seems like he’s trying to be ridiculous, but more often, he just doesn’t sound like a guy with a whole lot to say. Plus, some of those interviews in the “terrible interview” mashup were clearly from a while ago. If Lochte’s pulling one over on us, it’s a long, long con.

But then, I saw something today that changed everything. That something: Lochte on the 90210 set, describing his acting experience and what was so difficult about it. As usual, the entire clip is gold, but the money question-and-answer happens at the 37-second mark:

“Memorizing lines… and… trying to, like, say ‘em and still, like, do movement and all that.” Again:

“Memorizing lines… and… trying to, like, say ‘em and still, like, do movement and all that.”

Those aren’t the words of a rube. Those are the words of a MASTERMIND. I refuse to believe someone could utter a line so perfect and be unaware of the art they’re creating. “Do movement”? “DO MOVEMENT”?!?! You know who says “do movement”? No one, that’s who – unless they’re trying to get people to laugh hysterically. Maybe it hasn’t always been there. Maybe it took seeing himself get relentlessly mocked. But there has to be self-awareness there, and he has to be playing it up.

A mere lack of intelligence no longer explains the consistent quality of what we’re seeing. An especially good airheaded quote here and there is one thing, but enough to power an entire site? That’s not luck – no, this guy is taking us for a ride and loving every second.

So by all means, keep sticking a microphone in Lochte’s face. Odds are, you’re going to get something quotable. Just remember to ask yourself why. Is it possible this guy isn’t who you thought he was, that the guy we’ve been playfully laughing at is milking that attention for all it’s worth, laughing just as hard right back at all of us… and providing some of the best lines of 2012 in the process? I know my answer.



  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1487592607 Joe Barry Richardson

    As long as the show come out making him look with his lines; who cares? Most people and professional actors have to take retakes many times over to get it right. Why isn’t Lochte allowed to make mistakes especially since it is his first time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1487592607 Joe Barry Richardson

    As long as the show come out making him look good with his lines; who cares? Most people and professional actors have to take retakes many times over to get it right. Why isn’t Lochte allowed to make mistakes especially since it is his first time.

  • 1984


  • Stephen Ryan

    If you spend your entire life staring at the bottom of a swimming pool, obviously you are going to be an ignorant lump. Same goes for Phelps. Does anyone remember Mark Spitzer? Probably not. Another inarticulate moron. Don’t expect a fish to become an astrophysicist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pete.dopkin Pete Dopkin

    ahhh…uhhhmmm.. Do you mean to ‘articulate’ the name Mark Spitz?????

  • Stephen Ryan

    Yes, I do. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Stephen: Your comments are spot on, irrespective of the minor “Spitzer” error, and a heck of a lot more credible than the absurd article by Glen Davis.

    I’m guessing you’ve had some exposure to competitive swimmers.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of minor errors: that’s “Glenn,” with *two* n’s.

  • Diana

    I kind of take offense to this. Swimmers aren’t all stupid. I swam on a D1 college team and the team’s average GPA was around a 3.5…

  • ciufciuf

    Nadal is a tennis player and a super moron and a faker.

  • Anonymous

    He devotes most of his brain into looking awesome and swimming fast. He doesn’t need conventional smarts.

  • http://twitter.com/dsj070 Dessislava Jeleva

    I think the reason Ryan sounds dumb is because he gets asked idiotic questions. I mean what kind of a serious answer should be given to “Do you pee in pools?”. I saw one interview in which he talks about the Olympics in Rio and swimming and he does not sound dumb there. I’ve seen a couple of interviews with him post-Olympics and somehow nobody remembered to ask him if his 200m backstroke third place put pressure on him for the 200m medley or if the loss in the 4×100 relay put him down. You know, the kind of questions one would NORMALLY ask an athlete. Instead of that we get an endless parade on the “one night stands” thing. Furthermore, I’m sure that Ryan’s accent has something to do with him being classified as a “himbo” or “swimbo”. If he had a British accent (a Received Pronunciation one), Lochte would get a 10 points higher estimated IQ just because of the way he sounds.

  • Mirabella76

    I’m sure he’s not stupid and not a dumb. He’s just a guy who’s still a kid in his heart. I saw several interviews with him and he was very polite, relaxed and serious. Of course he joked and laughed but he was speaking an interesting things about his workouts, swimming, diets and dreams. He’s a great athlete and he’s pro, he’s the best in his work. When he’s messing around it’s just mean he’s a normal person. He doesn’t pretend to be a genius and just shows us the way he is. I think it’s more honest than to pretend. All his stuff like grills, hip-hop looks, high-tops with wings are just his ways to show he has a lot of hobbies instead of swimming. I love that “fashion interview” when he was asked about some fashion terms. He was so genuine and didn’t try to pretend he’s a very important person lol. That’s why I love to see him and to watch hes interviews – he’s very true

  • Anonymous

    You must be kidding, right? Spitz and Phelps aren’t particularly eloquent and outspoken, but compared to Lochte they sound like English graduates at Oxford.

  • Anonymous

    No, he is as dumb as he sounds. What you see is what you get. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad person though, he’s just not very bright. It’s nasty how his own PR team takes advantage of him – whoring him, making him do any kind of media work, even when they know it will make him look ridiculous. It’s all about making money because they want their %.

  • Brian

    Nope. Actually, out of any college sport, swimmers have the highest, if not among the top 3 GPA averages. Suck on that, Stephan Ryan.

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