Meh to Feh
Every once in a while I start a post that turns into more of a project. So, instead of going dark while I work on my project, I think I’ll throw up a quick Olympic update.
On last week’s episode of Carpetbaggery, I was feeling kind of “meh” about the games. This week, I can report that the “meh” has turned into a full-blown “feh.” And the main culprit is not the games, the stumbling gymnasts or the dragging swimmers. No, it is the proud peacock herself. Yes, NBC has ruined these games for me. I’m not saying I’m refusing to watch, but let’s just say, I’m not going out of my way either.
Hey, look, it’s live… and 5 hours late
First, it’s the delay. It seems like NBC has taken the 5-hour east coast delay and turned it into a much bigger deal requiring reediting and rewriting. Maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if they copped to the fact that we are watching a tape delay. But when they present the prime-time events as if they are going on live, and then heavily edit them for content and order, I can’t help but feel like they are trying to pull one over on me.
Over the weekend, couldn’t NBC have aired the big swimming events live? Americans are fairly accustomed to watching sports on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I mean, it’s not like the live events are happening when it’s 3 in the morning here. Anyone on Twitter or the Internet learns the results when they happen. Does NBC know that people covering the events there are putting them on the Internet? I knew that Michael Phelps lost on Saturday. I knew that the little U.S. gymnast pixie girl failed to qualify for the finals. I knew the Ryan Lochte choked on the 400m relay. And even if you were able to maintain a media blackout during the day, NBC proved unable to keep their big yaps shut. Just before the big race with new swimming phenom Missy Franklin was aired in tape delay — as if it were live — NBC ran a Today Show promo touting Gold Medal-winner Missy Franklin’s appearance and showing her on the medal stand. Oops. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Everything is live, as far as you know. Enjoy the race. Hope she wins!
I don’t see why NBC can’t air everything live and then have a recap show each night for those who couldn’t watch during the day, or chose not to. But don’t put it on at night pretending that it’s live. We aren’t stupid. We know that at 7pm Eastern time it is midnight in London and nothing is going on besides a little nocturnal, amorous Greco-Roman wrestling in the Olympic village.
Pay to play
Even more than the tape delay, I get tired of the exclusive agreements and heavy-handed big brother stuff around the games. Did you know that, in London, the words Olympics, London, 2012, twenty-twelve, medals, sponsors, games, summer, gold, silver, or bronze are banned unless you pay big bucks/pounds for a license? And don’t even think about using those five colored rings! That means a London pub can’t put a sign in the window saying, “Watch the Olympic games here!” They can’t even put a sign reading, “Hey, it’s Summer. Ready for fun and games? Come in for a glass of liquid gold!” That will land you in a Tower of London cell, or at least merit you a hefty fine.
Here’s how one London business got around the ban. You’ve got to love this level of cheekiness from the Brits:
Sod off, Olympic committee!
And NBC is just as bad. Tribune-Review reporter Dean Kovacevic was interviewing a Pittsburgh-area athlete with his iPhone when an NBC thug interrupted and informed him that this was not allowed. Nobody but NBC gets to do video interviews on Olympic soil. Kovacevic tweeted that the gloves were off. He was only doing his job. Now, he has to ask athletes to go somewhere else in London to interview them. Nice.
Over the weekend, NBC got the Twitter account of an LA-based TV critic canceled for his criticism of the network. Well, okay, he also Tweeted the email address of the NBC exec in charge of the games. Not wise. But it wasn’t the exec’s private address; it was an NBC corporate account. Still, strong-arming Twitter into canceling someone’s account is former Soviet Union-kind of power. Mad props from Putin on that one.
We’ll let you know what you want to see
Most upsetting to me was when I learned that NBC cut an entire section out of the opening ceremonies. I just assumed that we had seen the whole thing. That level of ignorance is pretty much what NBC is counting on. But no, they cut out a portion of the event that honored the casualties of terrorism in London tubes and buses, events that occurred just days after the announcement that London had won the games. I guess there was a ball of fire, a dance, and some Scottish lady sang. NBC said that since it wasn’t aimed at American audiences, they didn’t feel we would be interested. We got an interview with Michael Phelps and Ryan Seacrest instead.
I’ll have to admit, when I heard that, I was pretty much done with the Olympics. Oh, if I’m flipping channels and something catches my eye, I’ll probably watch. I caught about 15 minutes of archery on Saturday. But I’ve decided I’m not buying a ticket on NBC’s manipulation train. I just can’t take the pomposity of Bob Costas, the smirking of Dan Patrick, or the breathless interviews of Andrea Joyce. Seriously, during the parade of nations, all Costas had when the team from Madagascar entered the arena was that it was the subject of two animated movies. I ask you, where else can you get that level of international discourse?
My absence is certainly no great shakes for NBC. Their ratings are doing record numbers. I guess most people are willing to suspend disbelief and play along. Me? I’ll probably be doing other things. Go to a movie. Take a walk. Read a book. I’ve also got this more involved post to work on. I’ve got things to do.
Let’s go Bucs!