Jul 14, 1996 Olympic futbol on US TV? It is unpatriotic. (Ariel Mazzarelli) Jul 23, 1996 Frothing at the mouth over NBC Coverage (Mark Williams, Ariel Mazzarelli) Jul 23, 1996 This one will not be among GE/NBC up close and personal stories (Ariel Mazzarelli) ============================================= From: email@example.com (Ariel Mazzarelli) Subject: Olympic futbol on US TV? It is unpatriotic. Newsgroups: rec.sport.olympics, rec.sport.soccer Date: July 14, 1996 It is as plain as the nose on the Republican elephant that the television broadcasts of the Olympics are awash in nationalism. In the US it is truly nauseating. Basically, they ruin the suspense of the thing for you, because you know that if they are showing the event, the US athlete got the gold medal (except for the 'mandatory' broadcasts like the 100 meter dash). So how can they possibly show the US getting its ass kicked by Argentina next Saturday? What are you, some kind of commie wetback? "And with the score Argentina 2 USA 0, we will now be switching to the underwater shotput preliminaries, where the American [i.e. the USA representative] has an excellent chance for a gold medal. Here is his life story up close and personal. Here he is telling his parents he wants to spend his whole life throwing a metal ball underwater. Here are his parents going to the psychiatrist. Here he is signing a contract with BigCorp as an official athlete of BigCorp. Here he is walking around everywhere wearing a BigCorp T-shirt. [BigCorp sells young girls to a brothel franchise offshore but that's not mentioned in the interview.] Here he is training under the water. Ok now we will go to a commercial and when we come back in twenty minutes you will see the conclusion of the underwater shotput." It's the Olympics, and you're an Amerihkun. ========================================================= From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Williams) Subject: Frothing at the mouth over NBC Coverage Date: July 23, 1996 I am so irate that I seriously think I'd do physical harm to an NBC executive or Bob Costas if I was presented the opportunity. But let me try and be as sober about this as I can and sum up the essential bind we're all in. I'm posting this in the soccer group because one crucial aspect of how fucked up the Olympic coverage by NBC is has to do with the sports media bias in this country, something that even the world's most popular sport is having troubles breaking down. It was my impression during the World Cup in 1994, that all the explanations by people in the American sports media regarding soccer's "unmarketability" and/or its "dullness" really was a way of hiding the fact that the people actually in charge of bringing sports to the American audience didn't like or want to bother to like soccer. And so in the same way even a pseudo-intellectual voice like that of Costas' reveals time and time again that he is ignorant and /or uninterested in the vast majority of the sports that comprise the Olympic games, soccer included. His little jibes at the "smaller" sports, like his comments about table tennis during the opening ceremony, or his poking fun at "my hero, the pocket Hercules" last night, reveal what a non-intellect and myopic fuck he really is. And, he's supposed to be one of our more "cultured" sportscasters! Well he is in some ways, but these Olympics are proving the point people overseas have made for years: in certain areas of international co-living, Americans are arrogant and ignorant assholes; the two qualities go hand-in-hand. Ignorance and disinterest are also the basic problem in a different sense. I really do believe that NBC is making the "correct" decision from a business standpoint in not showing the multitude of non-marquee sports, because the American sports audience as a whole doesn't give a shit and would probably wander over to other programming if field hockey, fencing, weightlifting, handball, etc. were aired in any manner that suggested 10 straight minutes of such coverage. Which is not to say that NBC couldn't try to cultivate some interest in the more esoteric or less known sports. While the rest of the world does in fact show more interest and participation in many of the sports considered marginal by Americans, it is also true that this interest and participation is promoted and cultivated by sportscasters and television stations. Yeah, I know, it's because most television is state-run. And I certainly can bemoan the fact that we don't have that in the U.S. when it comes to events like the Olympics or the World Cup. You can't change the fact that NBC is beholden to the market it operates in, but it could still try a little harder to present the Olympics as they are. And here is where I really have come to despise NBC, and perhaps the whole country by association. NBC has told us that there's a lot more to the Olympics than just the actual events themselves. This argument has been in response to queries/critiques regarding the surfeit of background programming, or "fluffy" human interest stories of individual sacrifice/hardships endured en route to the Olympic "dream." They do these stories for the marquee sports, but have also applied the logic behind these stories as a way of presenting, at times, other events. Two examples: the women's bike road race won by the French woman Longo, and the first 2 games by the U.S. women's field hockey team. I don't remember the name of the "reporter" doing these montage pieces, but it's the same guy and I want to kill him. He's not breaking new ground with this style of reporting; CBS did the same thing for years with the Tour de France (John Tesh's start, if I'm not mistaken). But it's so entirely nauseating. The overall nature of these montage pieces is to splice and dice the events into a chronologically incongruous whole and try to build the "event" up with a rollercoaster ride of emotional manipulation ("Longo surged ahead; could the field catch up? But the field wasn't finished yet; another attack; could Longo keep up her pace? and so on). This ridiculous exhortation of "human sacrifice" with the aptly picked swelling melodramatic music serves the sole purpose of propagandizing NBC's allegedly pro-active role in bringing us the "great human drama" of these games, the part that is "more than just the events." If it's possible to really know what happened at the Olympics without having actually seen the reality of the competition, in real time, not slow-replay/swelling music time, then NBC makes the perfect case for the fact that it is nothing but a tool of propaganda, self- serving in a simultaneous way because it at once assures itself of its profits on this event and further reinforces the audience's complicity in not wanting the real story, but some manipulative and positively "non-real" interpretation of it (a state of mind required to watch 90% of the rest of its regular programming, or that of any of the other networks). It's almost gotten to the point of where the only hope is if real Americans become good enough as athletes in all of the competitions to mandate by their presence alone that coverage be real and void of bullshit. The fact that we're so damn good at most sports has ironically been perhaps a contributor to the fact that we don't care about others and other sports. But soccer and the U.S. rise in it might begin to change our myopia. I have no positives to observe whatsoever about NBC's coverage. Dick Enberg, ironically, I've decided, has been the least annoying of the main talking heads precisely because he seems a little awkward in trying to rise to the heights that a swelling musical melodrama might require. He's seemed positively "down to earth" in comparison to the NBC propaganda train. But that's not really a positive. I hope the Olympics go bad for NBC and Atlanta because speculative money needs to be made threatened and frightened by the prospect of overusing this event. That's the only chance to wrestle the IOC into a policy that truly puts the games first, because the market will not. It's not socialism I'm desiring, just intelligent and responsible programming. If that doesn't sell, well, then we're screwed. One thing I can say with certainty is that I will not have been able to experience these Centennial Olympics because NBC wouldn't show them to me. Their complicity in our national ignorance is more than passive, it's pro-active. They are to be condemned for being poor global citizens. I wish it were actually criminal what they're doing. I'd hang them high, literally. -------------------------------------------- From: email@example.com (Ariel Mazzarelli) Subject: Re: Frothing at the mouth over NBC Coverage Date: July 23, 1996 Very nice post, Mark. I would like to coin an aphorism in honor of GE/NBC: You know you are in real trouble when reality is not good enough for you. The perverse need to excise from sport its genuine essence that is its unpredictability and real-time resolution is endemic of a medium like television which seems to discourage interactivity with reality. And now a musical break, courtesy of Natalie Merchant and Dennis Drew, "If lust and hate is the candy, if blood and love taste so sweet, then we give 'em what they want. Hey, hey, give 'em what they want. So their eyes are growing hazy 'cos they wanna turn it on, so their minds are soft and lazy. Well... who do you want to blame? " Suppose you go to see a bullfight. One of the exciting aspects of the bullfight is that the toreador might get horned, even killed. Hence it stands to reason that some of the excitement would vanish if we were to watch a taped version of the event, narrated by the same toreador. However, then at least we would be given the unique perspective of one of the protagonists, so there is a bit of a trade-off; however, must we abdicate the right to the live version? That is what GE/NBC is telling you the spectator: you have no right to the live version--and we're not talking about issues of event simultaneity here, rather, the 'live' quality where you watch the event as it occurs and you come to your own conclusions, rather than what remains after the corporate officials have applied their filter. Recently, Coca Cola has been carrying out a series of commercials that consist of a leisurely view of an old photograph of a sporting event (usually from the 50's), with some loud music in the background. The photograph is in black and white, and then some red is added into the photograph so as to highlight the presence of a Coca Cola sign. I was trying to figure out why these commercials were so obnoxious, and then it hit me: it is like watching the birth of a tumor. Instead of using the old photograph to fill us in on the culture of our elders, they use it to show how much freer of corporate propaganda was their visual landscape. The fact that a corporation that can write its own ticket would choose to rub their 'victory' in our faces in such a fashion tells me that the Olympics will continue to be a waste of our time as long as they are on television. Perhaps when we are able to select our view of the games (right down to the camera angle), we might get it back. A natural question then arises--what are the tumors today that compare to the propaganda for Coca Cola? I was watching MSNBC last night, and it occurred to me that they were stunningly close to being truly evil, and it was only their myopia that prevented them from really taking off. But it will come, I am sure that they will eventually prune their telecast of the obvious errors that they were committing (and no, I'm not going to say what they are, the last thing I would want would be to help those corpocrats). The basic conclusion that I came to was the same as with the Olympics: television was a big mistake. Granting corporate and government monopolies over bandwidth was a big mistake. That, I think, is the lesson that we have to keep in mind for the Internet. ============================================== From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ariel Mazzarelli) Subject: This one will not be among GE/NBC up close and personal stories Date: July 23, 1996 Newsgroups: rec.sport.soccer, rec.sport.olympics I understand that Nike (or was it Reebok? like it matters) manufactures those $100 tennis shoes in Indonesia, where the workers are paid on a wage scale that begins at $2/day. Various humiliating labor practices are used, of course--one of them involves telling the females to strip down so as to verify the status of their menstrual cycle. I suppose that Nike needs the extra $ so as to plaster itself all over our Olympic experience. Do you suppose GE/NBC would carry a story like that one, about one of its sponsors? Do you expect Bob Costas will make a snide remark as the USA team parades during the closing ceremonies, saying something along the lines of "most of these athletes rent themselves out for pennies on the dollar once every four years so that corporations like Nike, Coca Cola and GE/NBC can make billions of dollars"? --------------------------------------------- From: email@example.com (Ariel Mazzarelli) Subject: Re: This one will not be among GE/NBC up close and personal stories Date: July 24, 1996 firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: >I think it is as appalling as you do. But are you suggesting that >America should be in charge of working conditions in other countries? Now hold on a sec. I think you are pushing my words down a path that ends like this: when a government says stuff like "let the workers own the factories", the US government sends the Marines; when a government says "one body, one day, one dollar", these megacorps (largely, though not exclusively based in the US) send $. Ergo, your question has already been answered affirmatively. That was not the path that I intended. In particular, I did not intend to suggest that America and the USA are the same entity, nor that GE, Coca Cola, Nike, etc. are "American" in the way that you or I may be. Suppose I go down to the local bookstore and you buy the latest issue of some magazine called "Kiddyrape"--or better yet, sign up for a subscription (for the friendly law enforcement agent reading this, I'm making it up, as far as I know there is no such magazine); then those dollars would contribute to the sexual exploitation of children, and I would be a hypocrite if I denied it. That is what I am talking about--somebody is using our dollars to build a machine in a poor country, exploit the locals, ship the product here, and sell it to us at an obscenely inflated price using, among other tools, the hijacking of the Olympics from all viewers (even those that would never buy their products). Forget all this crap about a free market, because the major retail outlets stick to these major brands based in part on the power of advertising. What is the power of advertising? It is what makes people react to a Nike tennis shoe with a mental image of Michael Jordan, rather than an Indonesian woman being stripped to verify the status of her menstrual cycle. Now since you asked, I am suggesting that we should not be funding these types of labor practices; since these corps use the Olympics as their showcase, it seems only fitting that we should examine what they have done with those Olympics (basically, ruined them), and extrapolate from there. If they treat the consumer in that manner--"Sorry, you cannot watch the Olympics, but here is a nice ad for you"--imagine how they treat the underlings at the factory. You still feel like giving them your money? The process whereby we will get rid of the aforementioned abuse will not be all that simple. A point of departure could be to acknowledge that it occurs, that it is a thing that should be changed, and that to the extent that we have a marketplace choice, that we should choose accordingly. That is only a point of departure, of course. I prefer to leave the discussion of where to go from there for another thread, probably on another newsgroup. So for now I'll just observe that the day when becoming an official Olympic sponsor is a bad business decision will be a good day.