The time has come for me to rip into the inane commentary that NBC served up during the London Opening Ceremony on Friday night. I’ve saved this post for last, because it took some research to get some of the “better” quotes from Bob Costas, Meredith Vieira, and Matt Lauer. There were just too many to remember from Friday… too many WTF moments to count. But, I think I have a decent collection now to support this aspect of the #NBCFail I’ve been breaking down today.
There were times when the commentary seemed “dumbed down” to what they thought American audiences would want to hear. It’s just too bad that the level they sunk to was that of bitchy ignorant teenagers (Mean Girls).
One person tweeted: The Olympics does bring people together! America is united in the opinion that Matt Lauer and Meredith Veiera should shut up. Even #ShutUpMattLauer became a hashtag on Twitter.
There was also a particularly cringe-worthy moment when Lauer and Viera blew off a tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man widely considered to be the inventor of the world wide web.
“If you haven’t heard of him, we haven’t either,” Vieira said.
“Google him,” Matt added moments later. Yeah Matt, because I should do your job for you.
The Lauer and Vieira exchange during the National Healthcare segment only made things worse:
Vieira: ”Quite frankly, none of these children look really sick to me.”
Lauer: ”I don’t know whether that’s cute or creepy” -referring to the giant sleeping baby. Vieira somewhat prodded at him for that, saying something like, don’t say that too loudly. Oh, no, Meredith. He only said it on a national broadcast. No one heard that at all.
Of course, Vieira using the phrase “money shot” and talking about the Queen in the same sentence was pretty awful. You’re going to tell me that some handler of hers didn’t know that was a porno term? Maybe they hate her as much as everyone else does and just let her walk right into that.
There were even more “golden” things said by Vieira:
’I don’t know who would mess with him?’ Then she answers her own question: ‘That’s who would mess with Voldemort – Mary Poppins.’
“One more thing I don’t understand…” of another performance during the opening ceremony.
A couple of examples from Lauer, who edged out Bob Costas for the gold medal in triviality:
“From the I-did-not-know-that-file, Denmark is the most competitive non-Asian country in Badminton.”
And, “Madagascar – for our younger viewers a country associated with a few animated movies.”
“Djibouti’s name sounds funny!”
“The vast number of athletes you see here will not win a medal.”
Thanks, Matt. Because you and your team only had four years to come up with factual commentary about the countries in the Parade of Nations. And another 3 hours of delay after the live broadcast.
- Noting that Luxembourg is actually the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Costas innocently asked, “why don’t they march in the ‘g-spot’?” Mr. Costas was referring to the nation’s proper alphabetical position as its Olympians entered the stadium.
- On “context” for Australia: the country was “originally founded as a penal colony…”
- On the North Koreans marching into Olympic Stadium: “Of course the greatest athlete ever in North Korea is none other than the former Dear Leader Kim Jong Il who, according to his official bio, hit eleven holes in one in golf — not over the course of his career, mind you, but in his very first round of golf. At least two of those came off the windmill and the clown’s nose. “The clown nose must have been particularly difficult.”
- And then dismissing the country altogether by stating: “Not a country I would be visiting anytime soon.”
They both also:
- Insulted Greece’s economic situation and kept going on about them like rich kids would rag on poor kids
- Brought up Borat in relation to Kazakhstan. Because Googling anything else about that country is like, omg, way too hard.
- They called Luxembourg “a small central european country.”
- Lauer called the Rwandan genocide a “troubled past.” He also claimed it was all good now.
- Pointed out: “The oil-rich Arab country, the UAE, precedes the United States.” Glad we could clear up that alphabetical puzzler, there. Thanks!
- Commented on one athlete: “Put off her final exams until after the olympics… seems like a wise move.” Seemed more like dripping with sarcasm.
- Brought up/put salt in the open wound about the governments/politics surrounding: Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and a discussion regarding the Falkland Islands ongoing dispute between Great Britain and Argentina
- And then there was the gossipy speculation behind Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s absence during the ceremony.
- Other assorted topics of “context” for the Parade of Nations included:
- Libya — Ghaddafi
- Tunisia — Man setting himself on fire
- Sudan — war
- Iraq — occupation
- Uganda — Bob Costas: “Winston Churchill once described Uganda as the ‘pearl of Africa’; of course, Churchill never met Idi Amin.” Wow, that was so fresh there, Bob. That would be like BBC referencing Jimmy Carter’s failed presidency during the US Team’s entrance.
All of this was completely embarrassing for me, an average 20-something American, to watch. And it got really effing annoying during the musical parts and various speeches… because the three of them felt the need to never shut up. I’m sorry, but Americans, despite what reality television portrays us as, are not ADD morons that need every single moment filled with stupid commentary, useless and offensive trivia, and really bitchy sounding quips about other nations and their problems.
We also don’t need every damn thing described to us. We’re not all vision impaired… and even those of us that are would probably be better off having their friends/family describe the spectacle for them. Not Global Thanksgiving Parade Snarkfest 2012! I swear, the scripts should be assembled into a “burn book” for Lauer, Vieira, and Costas to hold onto.
I can’t decide what irritated me more… the ceaseless stream of verbal diarrea or the hour’s worth of commercials that came in between them.
I truly regret not looking online earlier for the BBC feed. I’ve heard nothing but good things about how they handled it: with reverence, dignity, and respect. But the elitist jerks at NBC? Are they sorry for any of this or the fact that the livestreams weren’t offered even online? Nope.
“We are live streaming every sporting event, all 32 sports and 302 medals,” an NBC spokesman wrote in an email to Show Tracker. “It was never our intent to live stream the Opening Ceremony or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context, which our award-winning production team will provide for the large prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them.
“We will be providing clips and highlights of each ceremony online so viewers know what to look forward to in primetime on NBC,” the statement added.
Oh goodie. So not only are Americans perceived as too dumb to watch a live show without commercial interruption or without cutting away to Michael Phelps being interviewed (and too insensitive to give a shit that 52 people died in London a few years ago)… NBC feels that we need the “context” that its “award-winning” insensitive commentators spent all of maybe one hour of researching on the internet to come up with (during which they couldn’t even look up Sir Tim Berners-Lee). More than half of it being crap that has nothing to do with the actual athletes competing. And guess what NBC? If I had to sum up your precious “context” and how important it is to me?
Well, as an American that is smart enough to not need your “context,” I can assure you, NBC, that I will be watching the Olympics live via online streams of BBC. Yes, they’re out there if you dig deep enough. Because listening to your people break things down and watching hours of commercials makes me want to…
OK, that’s enough. I’ve said everything I felt needed to be said about NBC’s Opening Ceremonies fiasco. And I know it won’t change how they treat the closing ceremonies either… but as I said, you can always rebel and watch the BBC coverage (I’ve also heard that Canada’s CTV coverage is OK) online live.
See my other two posts here: