By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
One of the reasons I seldom watch television is that I’ve grown tired of having my intelligence insulted by ever increasing numbers of childish, and inane commercials which offer nothing of substance to convince me why I must buy their product or service. The mindset and goal of advertisers to race to the lowest common denominator who they perceive lacks the capacity to think for themselves.
Yet one possible relief from the deluge of televisions scorns such as the endless sitcoms, television shopping networks, religious charlatans, and political advertisements, could be found in the modern epic and magnificent Olympic Games, with its spectacular and well choreographed performances, light, movement, and cultural flavor of the host nations. The tradition of bring the flame and the showing of the athleticism and conglomeration of the peoples of the world surely brings a true sense of awe and wonder to those ancients if somehow they blessed the clairvoyance to envision what would become of theirs millennia later.
Eighty years ago, the Games of the XI Olympiad was the first to feature a television broadcast bringing forth to an eventual world wide audience the ability to witness the Olympics without the burden and cost of live attendance. Unfortunately, it has given rise to the sports broadcaster style of news, the dark side of which is the seemingly endless need to describe the minutia in every detail, flapping jaws incessantly, and often destroying the poignancy of the moment. We the audience are capable of understanding what we witness. So to all the Olympics broadcasters of the world, do us a favor–Shut UP!
The problem of garrulous newscasters is more prominent with the Winter Olympics, especially in the choreographed events such as figure skating. Endless chatter, such as “now the lutz…excellent execution.” or “ohh, she fell down. That’s going to cost her.” The entire world saw the same thing the broadcaster does and yet they continually state the obvious.
The lip service presents a losing choice for the viewer. Turn the volume off to silence the talking heads and consequently lose the tie-in with the musical score essentially integrated into the performance and artistry of the skater or having to be painfully distracted by the host.
Attendees of the event sitting in the arena’s audience have the blessing of a minimalist interdiction against the athlete by the announcer. As the athlete enters the arena, the announcer states her name and country represented, the athlete performs to conclusion, he perhaps mentions her name again and waits patiently to enumerate the scores of the judges. A very simple format and it is most respectful to the athlete and the audience.
Events such as the downhill. Being a former skier myself enjoy the comfort and thrills of the event. I enjoy hearing the scrapes and cuts made into the snow as well as the fun of listening to the cheers of the crowd upon their favorite son earning a record time. I don’t need to hear a talking head goading a skier to tears by continually resurrecting the pain of him losing his brother as an example.
But for this year’s opening ceremonies, I resigned myself to experiencing the music and sounds of the event itself just to avoid the distraction of the talking heads. I just muted the sound and watched as the deaf would. Sometimes theirs in an enviable plight.
At the very least, with 700 channels of “nothing on” could at least one be dedicated to an announcer-free broadcast of the Olympics?
I have to wonder what would become of a contemporary television Olympics announcer if he was transported back to Ancient Greece and pestered the crowds with incessant drivel. I suspect the closing ceremony would consist of a great smashing of amphorae and pottery, followed by the running of Scribes to etch the name of this pariah announcer onto Ostraka.
If only we had the power to ostracize the announcers into exile. Five Olympic games with the talking heads in exile will be most welcome. Society needs an electronic form of casting someone into exile–perhaps an e-Ostracon.
By Darren Smith
Image Credit: Marsyas
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