Thursday, February 6, 2014

Altius, Fortius, Screwup-ius

So, about those Olympics …

(Side note: My late father-in-law, who attended and worked at numerous editions of the games as a men’s gymnastics coach [4 NCAA titles and 5 second-place finishes] always referred to them as “the Olympic Games,” something I always notice Olympians refer to them as. I am not an Olympian, so I can be more casual …)

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I’m torn about watching them. While anyone who knows me knows that I’m all about the schadenfreude (when it doesn’t concern something I want to happen), and I expect there to be schadenfreude aplenty at these games. Between the weather (in the 50s and rainy; perfect weather for winter sports …) and the general incompetence (the toilets, the hotel rooms, the unfinished buildings, the corruption), there’s plenty of fodder for (as I phrased it earlier today on Facebook), “a slow-motion train wreck,” which is meat and drink for the likes of me. (Of course, considering the strict journalistic standards NBC applies to Olympic coverage, we’ll be shown none of this, since they’ll be concentrating on feel-good stories about the athletes). On the other hand, the homophobia and the dog-extermination, among other things, give me plenty of reason to just boycott watching the goddamn thing. (Having the show – “The Speakeasy,” for Boxcar Theatre, Have I mentioned it? – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings will cut back on some of my viewing, regardless.) And leave us not forget this whole toothpaste bomb thing (which I do hope is just more idiotic paranoia on the part of the people who make us take our shoes off at airports because some other idiot tried to make a bomb out of his footwear).

But I enjoy the Olympics, winter and summer. It’s always astounding and inspiring to see what these people can do (well, other than the extreme athletes; those people are just nuts), and (in spite of NBC’s monofocus) there are plenty of good storylines to follow.

And, for god’s sake, there’s Curling! If you had told me ten years ago that I would spend hours watching either darts or curling on TV, I’d have said you were nuts (maybe not enough to be an extreme athlete, but you get the point). I don’t know why curling attracted my fancy, but it did. I’d have thought I would have found it ranking on the boredom scale somewhere between paint drying and soccer, but I find it grippingly fascinating. I still mean to get to a rink and give it a shot – maybe that should be this year’s new year’s resolution. (It’s not too late, is it?) Anyway, I’d hate to miss curling (the late night matches are the best; uninterrupted and complete) and the rest of the pomp and circumstance. And, really, would my non-participation really have any impact? It’s not like the Nielsens are going to drop precipitously based on one guy in Pacifica not watching. I’m not likely to buy any of the advertised products, anyway, so the economy won’t take a hit. I’d be the proverbial tree falling in the forest.

On the other hand (who am I, Tevye?), it just feels wrong to support it in any sense. On a much smaller scale, it’s like watching “The Apprentice.” It’s a terrible show populated by D-level celebrities for the most part, but I enjoy watching it – in spite of Donald Trump. But my watching or not watching it has had no effect on him, much as my viewership or lack thereof won’t have any effect on the Olympics.

There are things I boycott on principal – stores, products, TV networks and shows – some out of lack of interest (“Doctor Who,” “Game of Thrones” – sorry, there’s no way you’re going to get me to watch them, so please don’t tell me either I don’t know what I’m missing or that I should just give them a chance), and some out of pride in a streak (I’ve never seen an episode of either “The Brady Bunch” or “The Partridge Family,” for example), so ignoring or boycotting stuff isn’t alien to me – and not spending all night watching downhill skiing or biathlon would help me get a handle on my DVR (those 44 episodes of “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” aren’t going to watch themselves …), so it’d make sense to not watch them.

But my gut tells me I want to watch them, if only to see if some clusterfuck happens – and if the Russians I met when I was over there are involved, it probably will.

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