Kidnap hero's colorful interview leads to 2013 kind of tribute

ASSOCIATED PRESS Charles Ramsey , the Cleveland man who helped rescue the three captive women, has become an Internet sensation.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Charles Ramsey , the Cleveland man who helped rescue the three captive women, has become an Internet sensation.
Posted: May 09, 2013

CHARLES RAMSEY looks more homeless than heroic.

But the animated dishwasher in the grubby white T-shirt is America's man of the moment thanks to his quick actions earlier this week that led to the freeing of four kidnap victims in Ohio.

I'll bet his phone is ringing right now with offers from the "David Letterman Show," "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "The Steve Harvey Show."

Last I checked, Ramsey - not to be confused with the Philly police commissioner by the same name - was trending on Twitter. Cleveland's Ramsey, with his colorful language and folksy way of expressing himself, is everywhere, and it was inevitable.

I mean, here was a guy who was minding his business at home on Monday night, eating his McDonald's food when he heard a woman screaming. He didn't ignore her. He got involved, kicking out the lower portion of a door at a neighbor's house.

Thanks to his selflessness, Amanda Berry, her 6-year-old daughter and two other women who'd been held against their will for a decade finally got to taste freedom.

That's better than any Big Mac.

Something tells me that Ramsey is going to be eating at the Golden Arches whenever he wants in the days ahead. McDonald's sent Ramsey a message via Twitter yesterday afternoon saying, "Way to go Charles Ramsey - we'll be in touch."

He deserves the attention. We need more brave souls like Ramsey. And what makes our delight in his heroic rescue even more captivating is the way he has with language.

"I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms," Ramsey told a TV interviewer. "Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway."

That's a deep statement right there. Another thing he said that stuck in my head was about his interactions with one of the suspects, Ariel Castro.

"I've been here a year. You see where I'm coming from? I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music . . . " Ramsey said.

Shortly after TV news started showing and reshowing clips of his interviews, people started remixing it to music with Auto-Tune. Critics say the computerized digitizing of Ramsey's colorful description of how he helped free the women is demeaning.

I can't say that I'm completely comfortable with it, either. It has shades of Antoine Dodson, who became an Internet sensation in 2010 after his flamboyant interview with an Alabama TV station went viral following the attempted rape of his sister ("Hide your kids, hide your wife.").

That was followed by one by an Oklahoma City resident known as Sweet Brown, whose similarly animated interview with a news crew also went viral after a fire broke out at her apartment complex ("Ain't nobody got time for that!").

Word is that Brown's supposedly appearing in an upcoming Tyler Perry film, according to BET.com. Even though she may cash in on her fame, there's no denying that it smacks of elitism when we poke fun at people for their dialects and the way they present themselves on camera.

At the same time, though, this is 2013, and in a strange way, the hits the videos of Ramsey are getting on YouTube are a more of a tribute to Ramsey and his heroism than they are mocking of him.

Think about it. If people didn't find Ramsey so darn charismatic and engaging, we would have moved on by now. Instead, Ramsey is being memorialized.

Today on PhillyDailyNews.com: Watch video of Charles Ramsey, the hero in Cleveland who saved three kidnapping victims.


On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen

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