People who know me know how much I love the Olympics. Every two years, like clockwork, I glue myself to coverage for 16 days — summer or winter, doesn’t matter, I will watch any Olympic event I can find. And I don’t expect that to change any time soon.
But one thing really needs to change, and that’s NBC’s coverage of the games.
The networks of NBC have carried every Olympic games for several years now, and as in the past, NBC’s Today show talking head Matt Lauer has been freeze-dried, shipped overseas, and allowed to show the world America at its most obnoxious. Lauer, as he does daily on Today and annually at coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, came across as a pompous, condescending windbag throughout the ceremony, interrupting moments of brilliant majesty, quick humor, and beautiful music with his own pontificating and blathering about what was on the screen, working under the assumption that the American audience is too stupid to understand what it is we’re watching.
That’s not my theory, though, that’s basically what an NBC spokesman said in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times.
“It was never our intent to live stream the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them.”
That’s right, friends. If you watched the coverage on NBC, you just wouldn’t have understood what you were watching if not for Lauer and Meredith Viera providing us with such brilliant insight as reminding us that children in the US will have heard of Madagascar from the series of animated movies, clarifying that the six people in the Nigerian delegation are “six athletes,” or — my personal favorite — telling us in the first few minutes of Friday night’s broadcast that in England, they refer to television as “The Telly.”
Remember, America. NBC thinks you are too stupid to understand the Olympic opening ceremonies without this sort of insight.
But look on the bright side — they also protected us by editing out elements of the ceremony such as a tribute to the victims of a London terrorist attack that happened just days after the city won the Olympic bid, instead using the air time to show us Ryan Secrest speaking to Michael Phelps (who no doubt wouldn’t have gotten any coverage at all were it not for this on-the-spot interview). This is context, people. NBC knows, of course, that the people of the United States of America couldn’t possibly understand taking a moment to memorialize the victims of a terrorist attack in a major city.
(Thanks, by the way, to my wonderful girlfriend Erin for bringing this particular bit of stupidity to my attention.)
Of course, this is the same network that can’t figure out what to do with a show like Community, gave Whitney Cummings’ attempt at comedy a second season order, and handled the problems in their late night division with such ineptitude that books have been written about it.
And, yes, are still in last place.
But I guess that last one is easy to explain. Clearly we, the viewers, don’t have the necessary context to understand their programming.