Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!, I yelled. Again and again I yelled. But they wouldn’t.
And so, for me, went the Opening Ceremonies of the 30th Olympiad. The ‘narrative’ from NBC was intrusive, ignorant, not respectful and utterly, utterly annoying.
During one of the loveliest moments of the entire ceremony, hundreds of ethereal creatures floated around the stadium on invisible bicycles, finally sending one of their own skyward. Matt Lauer talked over the entire thing (apparently I needed to know who invented the bicycle). The music? Who needs music.
Their greatest sin was that they stripped away the majesty; dozens of nations gathering in friendship and competition has, even amidst the celebrations, a solemn aspect. It is always history. They don’t get that part.
Lauer even talked through the transfer of the torch – drowning out the articulate and relevant stadium announcers – and, in fact, getting a lot of it wrong.
“This is the most moving part of the Olympic ceremony” said Lauer, as the Olympic flag was carried in. “I think it’s best to just watch.” But he couldn’t. Eight seconds in he was back at it.
Plus the camera angles were terrible. Shut up!
UPDATE SINCE I WROTE THIS: I see that The Guardian had the same reaction.
Commentators Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira reunited for the cameras as if it was Beijing 2008 – or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or just a regular morning in 2011.
Theirs was the job of interpreting, explaining and trampling all over Danny Boyle’s fast-paced, high-def presentation of Great Britain from the time of maypoles and hay bales to the current day. And they did what they were paid to do. . .
The most egregious moment of commentary had come earlier when Matt and Meredith mentioned that there was to be a tribute to “someone” called Tim Berners-Lee.
“If you haven’t heard of him, we haven’t either,” chuckled Meredith about the inventor of the world wide web sitting on stage.
“Google him,” laughed Matt with no apparent sense of irony.
Way to go NBC, play into that old stereotype of the unschooled American.