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Alternate History: Aaron Carter

Kevin Noonan | Monday, September 23, 2013

“If Aaron Carter can do it, anybody can do it.” – Kobe Bryant, shortly after the release of “That’s How I Beat Shaq,” spurring his Walter White-esque spiral from supporting player on Shaquille O’Neill’s NBA championship Los Angeles Lakers to his eventual blackhat fate as the one-legged anchor of the most embarrassing Lakers performances since Rick Fox’s acting career.

There’s a little known branch of academia known as “alternate history,” that contemplates the long-term effects on history if certain events, seemingly crucial or not, had turned differently.
The most well-known example is probably the question, “What if the Allies had lost World War II?”
But the rabbit hole of reimagination goes much deeper (and much less morose) than that.
Aaron Carter performs at Club Fever tonight at 6 p.m., the conclusive end to a trail of dominos over 13 years long that began with his release of the first single off his second album and ends tonight with a roaring, likely legendary show at Club Fever.
But what if on Aug. 1, 2000, Aaron Carter and his label, Jive Records, decided not to release the single which launched into international fame and adoration of eight-year-old girls everywhere, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)?” What if the song never existed?
Well, let’s start with the obvious – he probably doesn’t get famous. Sure, with that style, that flow and those moves we saw in the “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” video, he probably still would have achieved some sort of fame. How could he not? Seriously, go watch the video; his flow makes the Notre Dame Men’s Lacrosse team look like a bunch of balding mid-40s car salesmen.
But without that song, we never get the video. And without the video, we never see him in full effect as the child star that he truly was and he never experiences the kind of explosive popularity that he had when was 13-years-old.
The effects are more far-reaching than you might think. Take the example in italics at the top of the story that I made up.
If Kobe never hears “Aaron’s Party,” then he never buys the album at Best Buy at midnight on the first day it’s released and never hears “That’s How I Beat Shaq,” and never realizes that boom, put it in the hoop like slam, hear the crowd scream jam and that’s how you beat Shaq.
Kobe never develops a Macbeth complex against Shaq, and instead of forcing Shaq out after the Lakers’ loss in the 2004 NBA Finals, Kobe goes out of his way to solidify his friendship with the future Hall of Fame center, and the duo go on to lead the Lakers to at least four more Finals championships and leave the league both legends and friends alike.
That, like most friendship and happy things, however, is boring.
More interesting is the crushing and depressing blow this deals to the city of Miami. Since the Lakers don’t trade Shaq to the Miami Heat for a couple bums and Lamar Odom, Dwyane Wade and the Heat don’t win the 2006 NBA Finals championship.
Lamar Odom never moves to Los Angeles, never meets Khloe Kardashian, and the most unfamous celebrity couple of our generation never hits the tabloids.
BUT WAIT. The plot thickens.
If Aaron Carter never hits the meteoric fame that resulted from “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” his family never gets their very own E! Network reality show, “House of Carters,” in 2006. The show was, by most accounts, less than a resounding success, and was cancelled after one season.
But the idea of the kooky family based reality show took off within the network itself leading to the premiere watershed series of American reality television history in 2007, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Kim Kardashian has, in addition to a few mitigating circumstances, Aaron Carter to thank for her fame. And if Kim Kardashian never gets famous – oh man, I can’t even wrap my head around that one. But let’s take a shot at it, at least on one level.
If Kim Kardashian never gets famous, in addition to any number of effects she’s had on the fashion, television and tabloid industries, she never enters Kanye West’s inner circle, shaping his music and inspiring such instant classic lyrics as … well, we can’t print any of them, but the long and short of it is Kanye’s latest album, “Yeezus,” likely sounds quite a bit different.
It may even open the gate for Kanye to release an entirely different kind of album. Maybe in the years he would have been dating Kim Kardashian he instead gets dumped by someone and his ego takes a hit. Okay, the ego thing wouldn’t have happened, but at the very least, he never releases the polarizing “Yeezus,” thus depriving the world of the knowledge that he is, in fact, a god.
But the fun doesn’t stop there either.
Let’s take a step back for a minute. Dwyane Wade and the Heat don’t win the 2006 NBA championship. Therefore Miami doesn’t become the same kind of destination for every star willing to illegally collaborate behind the scenes to manufacture a championship contender.
You ready for this, Cleveland?
If Aaron Carter never releases “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” LeBron James keeps his talents in Cleveland in 2010, and recruits fellow free agents Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to come with him. Even better, Chris Bosh goes to some other contender on the downswing and continues his career arc into irrelevance it was on before he went to Miami, and they convince Dwight Howard to get out of his Orlando contract in 2011 and join them in the town that God forgot.
And since the Cleveland Cavaliers are the best team in the NBA and perennial championship winners, the city of Cleveland benefits from new investment and business opportunities, changing the city from the butt of jokes from every sports fan and city dweller in America into one of the premiere metropolises in the world.
America moves it’s capitol from Washington D.C. to Cleveland, and the rest of the country is forced to hear about Cleveland and its goings on on a nearly daily basis.
So, long story short, thank god Aaron Carter got famous.
Contact Kevin Noonan at knoonan2@nd.edu
 The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.