Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Olympics, from where I stand--or sit

It is summer Olympic time in the world. These are the sixteen days when the top athletes in the world meet in London to compete in events of athletic prowess to see who is at the top of their game. This is done while the rest of the world’s population stops all physical activity, plops on a couch or comfortable chair, grabs a bowl of unhealthy snack food, and watches all of the competition on television.

Of course, as with any televised event, the favorite activity in our household is critiquing the coverage, commentators, and commercials that come streaming across the screen.

In the commercial category, there are some hands down gold medal winners. In this category are any of the commercials with children or mothers. With the exception of the illegal space aliens living among us, we are all children and all have mothers, so these commercials are easy for the general population to identify with. One such commercial contains a heart warming image of a young male child trying to leap off a concrete platform and land safely in a large vat of water some fifty feet below. It is possible for the child to leap because the platform is without a safety rail around all four sides.

Or another favorite is the “Toddlers-who-wrestle-chairs” commercial. In this commercial event, toddlers of all colors and genders try to pull large pieces of furniture to the floor and pin them. While they do this, referees watch to make sure the toddlers follow all the rules. The commercial ends with these small-bodied, large-headed, little people, pinning the large pieces of furniture every single time. Awesome.

These commercials are total fantasy. This is, after all, America, where we protect our children from all dangers, real or imagined, at all costs. After all, our parents allowed us to play outside for hours, ride our bikes without helmets, and climb trees without nets underneath, and look how this generation turned out.

In the “Epic Fail” category of commercials is the Sears commercial that starts out with a young and, apparently, madly in love, couple frolicking on the beach. The male half of the couple runs down the beach and quickly slams into a large refrigerator. When Middlest saw this, she exclaimed, “What is a refrigerator doing chilling in the middle of the beach?”

There are two types of commentary: the commentary at the venues, and everything else. The voices on the TV, thankfully, have not had a conversation with the voices in my head. Those who speak in venues are awesome. Those individuals are past competitors and present coaches who know the subtleties of the competition and  take every opportunity to tell us how much they know.

The second type of commentary is the between the broadcast of venues, when talking heads sit in chairs and talk...and talk and talk. During the coverage I have observed on NBC, I have seen a number of high profile celebrities being broadcast. With names like, Mick Alfreds, John Mac N Cheese, and Ryan Watercress Salad. I have come to the conclusion that no matter how well known and highly paid these people are, babbling is still babbling. Case in point, Mr. Mac N Cheese was talking about water-polo. In describing the play, he used the analogies of a rodeo and a headless chicken, saying, “Water polo, well, it is like, you see, a bull named Fu-Manchu, riding a headless chicken for 8 seconds, to get across my point."

Lastly, and speaking of NBC, the network has taken a lot of heat for it’s ability to predict the future outcomes of events. Case in point, they were able to air a trailer from the excited reunion of swimmer Missy Franklin with her parents after she won the gold medal, a full 5 minutes before she swam in the meet. NBS has mastered the ability of breaking news, video taping it, and airing it, before it has even happened.

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