NBC criticised over Olympics 2012 TV fumbles
Matt Williams, The Guardian
Sunday 29 July 2012
(A)fter taking a online shellacking over perceived failings in its opening ceremony coverage, host Meredith Vieira belatedly mentioned on Saturday night’s show a memorial segment it had failed to air live the previous night.
But it was the decision to not show some of the action live on TV that drew the apparent ire of online complainers.
Smug American Elitism at the Olympics Opening Ceremony
By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake
Saturday July 28, 2012 1:11 pm
It is a running joke that Americans learn geography or about countries outside the United States only when the US military decides to invade a country. Presumably, this is why NBC broadcasters Bob Costas, Matt Lauer, and Meredith Viera announcing the Olympics opening ceremony would be sharing trivia about each country, especially information that Americans might be able to understand even if they were terribly uneducated. But that should be no justification for the candor of the commentary during the broadcast of the Opening Ceremony, which was frankly an example of smug American elitism and often outright condescension.
For example, Bob Costas said North Korea’s greatest athletic achievement belongs to “dear leader Kim Jong-Il who, according to his official biography, carded 11 holes-in one, not over a lifetime but over the first round he played.
This went on for just about every other country. “Churchill never met Idi Amin,” Costas said as Ugandan athletes walked in the stadium. An anecdote about Kuwait mistakenly playing the Kazakhstan national anthem in the film Borat was shared as Kazakh athletes made their entrance. He mentioned the animated movie franchise Madagascar as Madagascan athletes strode by the camera. And, of course, like a school boy learning the country’s name for the first time or a character in a Christopher Guest film, he said, “There are some countries whose names just make you smile,” as Djibouti walked by.
The comments were not limited to quips that fell flat. Costas’ introductions of many of the countries seemed to highlight the worst aspects of each country’s history or inadequacies in the country that Costas himself may or may not have experienced personally. He said, Egypt is in “a transition of some sort,” and added, “From military dictatorship to Jeffersonian democracy? Not quite.” He noted that Kiribati does not have regularly scheduled flights to Honolulu. He ominously reminded audiences that world leaders are keeping a “wary eye” on Pakistan. He described how Australia was “originally founded as a penal colony.”
Coupled with the fact that NBC cut out the ceremony’s memorial of the 7/7 terror attacks in London and Saudi Arabia’s first female athletes entering, NBC’s presentation of the opening ceremony was appalling, hokey, and downright imbecilic. Broadcasters of the American idiocracy were in true form.
It is not like Americans are given much exposure to people or culture in countries outside of the United States. They are consistently indoctrinated with this idea from all politicians that they are citizens of the Greatest Nation on Earth. So, perhaps, it is not surprising that broadcasters on NBC would reinforce this predominant ideology of exceptionalism in our society. But is it too much to expect that NBC announcers would, for the few seconds that these countries go by, not offer smug or sneering remarks that call out the imperfections of each country’s current politics or past history?