Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You Can Leave Your Hutton

To judge by the BBC's coverage yesterday, the whole Olympic Games have been tragically overshadowed by a major international incident as the world discovered a nine-year-old girl miming. And they say these London media types have no sense of perspective...

As much as anything else, I'm annoyed by it all largely because I didn't need a admission on Radio Beijing to tell me that she mimed, or that the fireworks thing was CGI-ed; I could see that with my own eyes when I watched the ceremony.

But it's also worth reflecting that it really is only the British who care. To take just the handful of foreign news sites that occurred to me last night, Libération weren't covering it, Al Jazeera weren't covering it and the Drudge Report was highlighting The Telegraph's coverage of it... And yet, there at the same time was Newsnight embarking on a serious discussion of the morality of it all with style rent-a-quote Stephen Bayley.

Now if the Beeb had some evidence that the Chinese authorities were faking athletes performances (something that for a Communist regime, even a cuddly post-Maoist one, isn't, you know, beyond the realms of possibility), that would be serious news worthy of studio guests and a live link-up with Matthew Pinsent in the Olympic Village. What we have instead is the sporting equivalent of someone faking the intro clips for the bands in the Eurovision Song Contest (You mean amusing incidents involving market stalls, BMX riders and jugglers with green, white and red balls aren't a daily occurrence in Belgrade?)

Bill Simmons, one of my favourite sports columnists from America, suggests that all organisations should have a Vice-President of Common Sense. It's a fine idea and we should start with the BBC, particularly in this post-Hutton world. Ultimately, we're clever enough to understand that there is such a thing as the magic of television and that it might be used to make something as utterly inconsequential as an Olympic Opening Ceremony look a bit better; wasting air time pontificating about the morality of it is nothing but pure meeja hor onanism.

1 comment:

Tom Papworth said...

It's interesting, isn't it. The reaction amongst Chinese people appears to be "So what? It looked good on telly."

That being said, they're not used to quite the level of TV fakery that we are!

I honestly could not care less. However, as I explained in my post on this issue, the excuse that it was "in the national interest" is one all too familiar to people in and beyond China. It's an excuse for elites to take the path of least resistance, even if it means cutting corners.