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a eulogy for johnny manziel’s ‘money’ sign

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photo tom szczerbowski/getty images

the gesture we deserved, but not the one we needed (or something like that)

As we’ve seen in recent weeks, Cleveland Browns backup quarterback and unaccountable superstar Johnny Manziel is emerging as new man, one outwardly humbled by a disastrous rookie year and a stint in rehab for what sources say is alcohol abuse. “I'm trying to close that chapter and just build on what I've done so far this year and just move forward,” he told reporters on Wednesday. We should all applaud these apparently genuine efforts at maturity and sobriety.

But the process of rebuilding his image and football career has claimed a victim; the “money” gesture he used to punctuate touchdowns and shots of Patrón. As the all-new, all-adult Manziel said, “The money sign will not be back. I will not be making it.”

Dang. We’re going to miss that.

Yes, “Money” was needless and baseless self aggrandizement at its worst. It was something that never should have happened in the first place. But, it was also magical.

Remember when Manziel, ESPN’s chosen star of the 2014 NFL Draft, flashed his signature move after the most dysfunctional team in the league selected him at 22? Going to the Browns meant less money, mo’ problems. Still, there he was, rubbing his fingers together like he just discovered how to turn lint into diamonds. God, that was awful.

Oh, what about when he pulled out Money after scoring his first (and only) rushing touchdown on this play?

Just look at that! Look at that blown coverage! A 330-pound o-line dump truck might have scored that touchdown. It is actively not special. But for Johnny Football, it’s MoneyTime. So much hate.

Oh, and Manziel was famous for getting photographed making Money in the same clubs where he rolled with a posse of belligerent hangers on, flaunted a kind of excessive drinking that clearly wasn’t healthy, and openly relished putting everything he had at risk. Pure rage.

Even the very idea that a third-string QB on a team that is only technically part of the NFL should have his own signature gesture was maddening. Yes, he roped himself a Heisman and a National Championship. But does Heisman and National Championship winner Danny Wuerffel have his own gang sign? Does Matt Leinart? Does Cam Newton? No they do not. We’ve turned purple.

And, see, this is what we’re getting at—Money was amazing, five-star trolling. 

Through that one gesture, Texas A&M's beloved party-boy underdog declared he was playing only for himself and took control of the hate that would eventually follow. But it didn't end there. Whenever he wasn’t getting enough attention—positive or negative—he could always just smile and pull out Money, activating his fan base and firing up haters. Whatever happened, the conversation was always about him. Win, win. The actual cash, he assumed, would follow. 

In this, Johnny Manziel was the spirt animal of ESPN, the wettest dream of sports marketers, and the athletic expression of our current understanding of privilege and fame: a Kardashian who could run the 40. He was exactly what NFL fans deserved—even if he had no real place in the league—and money was his calling card and mission.

Of course, it couldn’t last. He had to be broken. The basic physics of tackling and alcohol took care of that (also, it didn't help when opponents started flashing back at Manziel after sacks and interceptions). Hopefully, the man who comes out of this collision will be a better person and, just possibly, a better player. 

Unfortunately, he won’t be a raging, engrossing jackass with a cynically capitalist signature gesture. He’ll be Danny Wuerffel. No one wants Danny Wuerffel (sorry, Danny).

Like we said, we’re going to miss Money.

Cara Delevingne, Ashley Benson, and Agyness Deyn also star

Elisabeth Moss is trying to keep it together as punk rock artist Becky Something in the trailer for forthcoming movie Her Smell. She's surrounded by iconic faces who make up her band Something She, Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff and Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell, as she grapples with the fact that her musical prowess just doesn't draw as big a crowd as it used to.

In addition to the wavering fame, Becky is "grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom," according to a press release. "When Becky's chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success." And what's clear from the trailer, Moss is absolutely meant for this role, transforming into the punk on the brink of collapse.

Rounding out the cast are Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, and Dan Stevens. Watch the official trailer, below. Her Smell hits theaters on April 12 in New York and 14 in L.A., with "national expansion to follow."

Her Smell | OFFICIAL TRAILER HD www.youtube.com

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Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In an acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards

As The 1975 accepted the BRIT Award for Best British group, outspoken frontman Matty Healy shared the words of journalist Laura Snapes as a way of calling out misogyny that remains ever-present in the music industry. Healy lifted a powerful quote from Snapes' coverage of allegations against Ryan Adams for The Guardian: "Male misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of 'difficult' artists, [while] women and those who call them out are treated as hysterics who don't understand art."

Snapes reacted almost immediately on Twitter, saying she was "gobsmacked, and honoured that he'd use his platform to make this statement." Snapes had originally written the line for an interview she published with Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek back in 2015, in response to Kozelek publicly calling her a "bitch" who "totally wants to have my babies" because she requested to speak in person rather than via e-mail, which she brought up in the more recent piece on Adams. Kozelek's vile response, and the misogyny that allowed it to play out without real consequences, it could be argued, could have easily played out in the same way in 2019, which makes her reiteration of the line, and Healy's quoting it on such a large platform, all the more important.

It should be noted that back in December, Healy caught a bit of heat himself on Twitter for an interview with The Fader in which he insinuated that misogyny was an issue exclusive to hip-hop, and that rock 'n' roll had freed itself of it. He clarified at length on Twitter and apologized, saying, "I kinda forget that I'm not very educated on feminism and misogyny and I cant just 'figure stuff out' in public and end up trivializing the complexities of such enormous, experienced issues."