Going to Bat for Ozzy

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”
A line by Russell Crowe’s Maximus before going into battle in Gladiator

By now you have surely heard of The Osbournes, MTV’s new show all about the life of musician Ozzy Osbourne and his family. Here’s how MTV describes the show:

“The Cleavers, the Bradys, the Cosbys?and now the Osbournes. It’s the next generation of family-oriented sitcom, a reality-based comedy that follows the lives of Ozzy Osbourne and his family. There’s no script, the situations are real, the family is normal?well, sort of. (Watch) the First Family of Rock and Roll welcoming you to their world.”

When I set out to watch the show so I could write about it, I promised myself, (I promised!) that I wouldn’t mention the legendary bat incident. There are probably several versions of the story, but the one I heard was that during a Black Sabbath concert performance, someone in the front row handed Ozzy a bat and, being Ozzy, he instinctively bit the head off. This went over so well, that apparently this became his “signature” move. Rumor has it that he even dazzled record execs with the stunt at a board meeting.

The main reason I didn’t want to bring it up was that it is such an easy target, so obvious a punch line. It’s a punch line that doesn’t even need a joke, it’s so “out there.” The only reason I bring it up now is because it seems that not only is Ozzy living in the shadow of the bat, but now it’s being thrown in his daughter Kelly’s face as well.

On a recent episode of the show, the family sits down for a “serious” talk. Surprisingly, after years of touring on the road as a family with Ozzy and the band (and the bat), the teenage kids seem to have some issues with school, drugs, fake IDs, respect for their elders, and their late-night partying lifestyle. Understandably, it’s all part of their search for their own identity as children of the famous. Then the bat incident rears its ugly head, when Kelly is discussing how the kids at school treat her. She remarks: “They still can’t get over the fact ? even though it happened over 20 years ago ? that dad bit the head off a bat!” Yes, Kelly, kids CAN be cruel.

But as far as we know, Kelly never bit any bat heads. It’s unfortunate that the daughter must answer for the “crimes” of the father. I thought, when it comes to having kids, that the meanest trick you can play on them is bringing them into this cold, hard, beautiful world. Apparently, depending on who you are and what you do, it can go much deeper than that. There’s a sobering lesson for all of us fathers out there.

Hopefully, as Kelly and her brother Jack navigate their way through adolescence, they will learn a lesson from their father’s life and his choices in order to make smart choices of their own. Even if they don’t do this-ESPECIALLY if they don’t?it wi ll be interesting and fun to see it played out week after week.