marr blog 8/7Wearing a delightful chapeau that softly declares just a hint of gracious whimsy, Mr. Ed prepares for the 2016 Olympic Games
I’ve a strong suspicion that the NBC programming executive in charge of the 2012 Olympic coverage would squeal like a little girl at the thought of touching a worm.
I suspect he (or her, or maybe a combination thereof) was raised on a steady regimen of Teletubbies, non-spicy vegan meals and a strict prohibition against noises with a decibel level greater than 30 dB (that’s a whisper heard from 6-feet away). His upbringing must have included dire warnings against over-excitement, over-heating and bright colors. He was no doubt indoctrinated to believe in the absolute equality of all living things (including ticks, leeches and self-pleasuring spider monkeys) . . . force-fed an ideology stating that competition was bad. I’m pretty sure that he played with Barbie while the other little boys were whacking each other with sticks. When the neighborhood kids played Army, this poor soul’s parents probably made him dress like Gandhi, with the likely wardrobe addition of a crinoline skirt and a big floppy hat.
I call the 2012 games the Metrosexual Olympics. This has nothing to do with the athletes themselves; they’re fantastic. It’s just that the coverage has absolutely sucked. The aforementioned suckage falls into two distinct categories.
Outrage #1: Why in the hell is everything on tape delay, with NBC picking and choosing what we can see, when we can see it and letting us know in advance who won? I mean, live broadcasts from Europe were old hat in the 1960s; we broadcast live from the Moon in 1969. The NBC execs, living in ivory towers and blowing out the mercury on the wimp-o-meter, fail to grasp a salient point.
People like to root for a team, for an individual, for a country. That’s impossible when you know the outcome in advance. The not knowing, the suspense, makes us feel like we’re there as it’s happening, that we’re a part of it all.
Now think about this. When you’re watching a sporting event on TV you know that rooting for your team doesn’t really help . . . but for even a mild sports fan it’s something you can’t avoid. You tense up and lean in the hopes the field-goal attempt splits the uprights; you’re excited when game six of the World Series goes into extra innings, when the bat cracks like a cannon and the ball is rising higher and higher and just might clear the wall. You hope, adrenaline building, that your team will come from behind and kick a last minute goal in the World Cup.
Yeah . . . like I’m going to watch the Super Bowl two weeks after it’s been played, sit in my living room, and cheer for somebody who already lost. Such an action is somewhere between stupid and insane.
Rooting for a team, the excitement inherent to sports, is apparently lost on the NBC execs. They seem offended by the idea of viewers concentrating on winners and losers. Instead, they have removed all suspense from the games. We are expected to watch simply to see athletic ability. While that ability is amazing, equally important is the desire that “our” men and women kick the stuffing out of our adversaries (aka: the Commies).
NBC has run this Olympics like a reality TV show. Failing to broadcast live, and telling us who snagged the medals before air-time, results in a pre-scripted feel utterly lacking in “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
I guess we should have expected nothing else from a network that raved about opening ceremonies featuring a tribute to a nationalized health care system that doesn’t work worth a damn. The American equivalent of that bizarre farce would have been a gala, laser-lit celebration of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Yup . . . now there’s something that we all love, something that truly represents a nationalistic spirit and patriotic character. Hope and change, baby . . . hope and change.
Outrage #2: Has anybody else noticed that the vast majority of Olympic coverage featured sports that are of the kind and gentle variety? I don’t think there’s been so much as a second of televised boxing, wrestling, javelin tossing, shot putting, hammer and discus throwing, weight lifting, etc. If it involved any kinship with violence – in other words, the original events from the original Grecian Olympics – it was banned from our screens.
Instead, we had volleyball . . . days and days and days of volleyball. There were men’s and women’s beach volleyball, doubles and teams volleyball, indoor volleyball and water polo (the latter being a close cousin of volleyball featuring participants who appeared to have been chosen due to their status as the fattest people in the pizza joint).
Marco Polo would be almost as riveting
Oh, there were also quite a few hours of people in wimpish outfits riding around a miniature golf course astride horses wearing ball caps. Yes, I could barely contain the adrenaline rush that came from seeing Mr. Ed jump over a cardboard depiction of a double-decker bus. We were also graced with a variety of synchronized events (diving being a prime example) and in 2016 I fully expect Synchronized Petting Zoo to be an official Olympic sport.
I did like the swimming, the running and the gymnastics . . . simply because athletes in those sports typically make Superman look like the skinny milquetoast in a high school dodgeball fest (I’m quite certain dodgeball was outlawed from public schools years ago as being too violent; tetherball is probably walking on thin ice). Still, they gave me no thrill because the events were held about a day before they were shown and I already knew that Mike Phelps had made history and that Usain Bolt blasted down the track like a rocket sled
But, you get my drift here. I seriously pray that NBC is never allowed to broadcast another Olympics. That said, I doubt the other networks would do much better. I’ve got a novel concept that would make the Olympics fun again, but it would no doubt leave network execs aghast.
First . . . broadcast the games live. Obviously you can’t cover anything, but I’ll gladly get up at 2:00 AM (and used to do just that when the games were televised live) to watch a championship boxing match. Replace the wimps who are now deciding what we watch (wimps who no doubt cower and cry at the sight of a Nerf whiffleball being underhand-tossed in their direction) with athletes. Let them hash out what would be the coolest thing to watch live and what has to be replayed later on.
Mostly, treat the games as the Olympics rather than the latest season of “Dancing With The Washed-Up Grade B Celebrities.” One Metrosexual Olympics has been enough to last me several lifetimes. If I never see another volleyball match it will be too soon.
Though I might still watch horsies with hats.
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