So the other day Sara and I were watching the encore presentation Olympic Opening ceremonies. As for the ceremonies themselves, they were fantastic. With over 15,000 performers, complex lighting effects and wire-fu to put the best action movies to shame, I doubt any country is going to top this kind of spectacle for long, long time.
The encore presentation on the CBC happened at about 3:00pm, but we were intrigued to find out how NBC handled their coverage. Rumor had it that ratings in the States depended on the victory of their athletes, and events that Americans did poorly in were simply ignored. We wondered how this way of thinking would carry over the coverage of the opening ceremonies and the parade of nations.
At first things were pretty similar to the Canadian coverage, although there was more explanation of the performance in the commentary. It took away some of the fun of interpreting the meaning of the performances, but it was interesting to hear some of the facts about what went into creating them. For example, the ceremonies involved creating images the coordinated movement of thousands of the performers. Amazingly, no markers were used to keep them in place as they created the fantastic designs on the stadium floor. However, as the parade of nations started, things started to get a little weird.
On the CBC, as the parade of nations went by, we heard the stories of the flag bearers, the athletes and how they got to be where they are. Stories such as how one of Japan’s equestrian athletes had been competing since the 1960s, or how the US flagbearer was a refugee from the Sudan.
Later on NBC, the first thing they mentioned about Canada was how we liked to pay people to compete for us and how we never won a medal during the Montreal or Calgary Olympics. Sara and I looked at each other and said: “Did Canada just get dissed?”
It turns out we weren’t alone in being talked about this way. For every nation that came around the track it was how many medals this country won, or how much they didn’t win, or how they’ve yet to win a medal. It wasn’t really offensive I guess, but it really shows off the priorities of the American coverage.
If the Olympics are a grand international society party, I guess the television coverage of these shows would be the impolite whispers spoken in hushed tones around the punch bowl. If only we could translate and consolidate all of the myriad interpretations of this event. We’d get some serious gossip and if we’re lucky spark a diplomatic incident.
On a related note, I hope Tokyo gets the bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. Just think of the events that can be inspired by Japanese game shows. Who would take the gold in an Olympic level competition of “Squishy-Squishy”?