This is going to be a bit of a departure from the norm of this blog, but I have smoke coming out of my ears and I need to say something about it. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve sent a message to NBC, and – brace yourself – even tweeted. I just found out that the version of the Olympics Opening Ceremonies that aired here five (six?) hours after they occurred was strangely edited. Jon Stewart blasted the network last night; I wish I’d seen it. But it did finally trickle down to me.
Apparently, what audiences watching live (or on better run networks) saw at some point in the proceedings was a six-minute tribute to the victims of the bombings in London on July 7, 2005. A friend reminded me that, on that day just over seven years ago, four bombs were detonated in the subways almost simultaneously the day after London was awarded the Games. The country should have been celebrating, and instead they mourned. I remember, vividly. Someone I used to know was in London at the time. It was terrifying.
That’s what they saw. What were Americans left no choice but to watch on NBC? An interview with Michael Phelps. Done by Ryan Seacrest.
I don’t know when I’ve been this disappointed, horrified, appalled. It’s absolutely disgusting. I was already bothered by the manner in which the network has handled the little I’ve seen. The parade of nations was periodically interrupted by commercials – as if to say “Well, these next few countries aren’t very important, we’ll just skip them and mention their names when we get back, shall we?” It all happened hours before it aired here. There’s no earthly reason they had to pretend it was live; they could have edited the whole thing in a much more respectful manner. I was taken aback by the way the gymnastics was handled; the Americans’ every blink (and tear) was closely followed, and there might not have been anyone else in the arena except for the occasional (obviously unimportant) girl blurring by in the background. They showed one British girl, I believe. Then they moved on and showed a few of the Russians and Chinese gymnasts. Germans and Romanians and others were relegated to late night coverage. Were there other countries competing? Wouldn’t know.
The US already has a reputation as being uninterested in anything outside our own borders. This – from the discourtesy of the way the athletes are covered to the effrontery of that omission from the Opening Ceremonies – can only make it look worse. But I can honestly say that the only reaction I’ve seen has been horror at the stupidity of the network.
I blame the networks for the rearrangement of the Games as well; once upon a time they ran the Winter Games in February and the Summer Games in July, and then four years later the rounds again. It was like that for – what, 92 years? Then they split them. I could not be more certain that the games were uncoupled because NBC didn’t want to lose four weeks of their prime time scheduling. I was just very, very delighted to read on Wikipedia, “In August 2008, ESPN, which now holds control of ABC’s sports division … asserted that they would make a serious bid for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” News of this – this utter show of disrespect was unprecedented. I hope – I dearly, dearly hope that ABC/ESPN will wrest back control over the Games. In those days the Olympics were a joy and an inspiration to watch.
Now? Now they’re a ridiculous travesty.
And keep your fingers crossed that ESPN is able to oust NBC for the Winter Games in Russia.
And that, if they do, somebody remembers how Jim McKay handled the hosting job.
- Jon Stewart blasts NBC for not airing Olympic tribute to terror victims (popwatch.ew.com)
- Jon Stewart Tears Apart NBC’s Olympic Edit And Romney For His London Criticisms (mediaite.com)
- Jon Stewart Bashes NBC for Opening Ceremony Cutaway (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- #NBCfail: British journalist banned from Twitter after anti-NBC Olympics tweets (news.nationalpost.com)
- UPDATE: Twitter Reinstates Suspended Account Of UK Journalist Critical Of NBC Olympics Coverage (deadline.com)
- NBC Opening Ceremony Edit: Choreographer Akram Khan Asks Why Tribute To VIctims Replaced With Ryan Seacrest (huffingtonpost.com)
- NBC Cuts Out Olympic Tribute To Terrorism Victims During Opening Ceremonies For American Viewers (mediaite.com)
- NBC Hit For Editing Opening Ceremony Segment Seen As ‘Victims Tribute’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- NBC Responds: We Removed The Opening Ceremony Memorial To Terrorism Victims Because The Tribute Wasn’t About America [Video] (deadspin.com)