Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cold Front Coming in from Olympic Stadium

Why, oh, why do I hate figure skating so much? I forced myself to watch a lot of it this evening to try to answer that question. When the Italian skater came out in what was actually a nicely designed outfit, I thought to myself, 'well, at least she doesn't look like Ice Skating Barbie, the way the rest of them do.' Bingo. It's that Barbie image thing.

Women's figure skating is, I think, often hoisted on the petard of its own anachronisms. Listening to the commentary, the announcers did occasionally use the words, 'powerful' or 'fast' or 'strong'--but it seemed as though what they were hoping for was, well, they just couldn't quite use the word, it was too much even for them, the 'V' word--yes, 'vulnerability.' At one point, a sports commentator said, 'her problem is she's just skating on the ice, when she should really be skating inside it.' I'm not even sure how to parse the various levels of dumbass-ness of that particular remark, so I'll just leave it be. An NBC promo announcer at one point said, 'we'll return to ladies' figure skating.' Yes, and then we'll all have a nice cup of tea and some cucumber sandwiches.

Does everyone out there understand why I don't want my daughter to do something like this? Not only do you have commentators announcing of the Italian skater (who appeared to be of normative height) that she kept screwing up the jumps because she was just too tall, but the sport is redefined, as they then practically pointed out, for women who maintain, well into adulthood, very child-like bodies. You don't see this in the men's competition, so it must be that you can re-score the jumps, the whatevers, the etcs such that women of all different types of heights and body types could compete. Frankly, I'd like to see the men compete wearing little Barbie costumes with teensy skirts that keep revealing body suits that are neither quite normal coverage, nor thongs, and therefore, have got to have ride-up issues--then have the announcers coo and fawn over how cute they are. The insane gender stereotyping that this sport actively promotes just makes me nauseous.

I did notice that some of the women are choosing to wear body suits something like the male skaters. This was the woman who was skating on top of the ice, rather than within it--let's see some ART ladies!!! Show some emotion, will you? This isn't about power and stamina and speed, this is about making sports pretty!!!

A side note: in the Newsweek article, Bode Miller did mention an ambition to flame out in such a spectacular way that people would be emotional about it, telling their friends about it, talking about it--to screw up repeatedly such that it was tragic. He has succeeded nobly in this pursuit, and I think it is a fine finger in the eye of the U. S. sports media. Gads--anytime an American is about to compete, you would think it was doomsday: our athletes are regularly described by our own reporters as practically incompetent, down on their luck, in bad shape and hurting, lacking in confidence--before they even compete, the Jewish grandmothers of the American sports media are telling us how these people are sure to fail, and will fail, and look--there they go again, failing! And we put such confidence in these, our children of the future--look how they let us down time after time, again and again. And they should be winning medals and were favored, even.

Why would anybody want to watch any more of this coverage? "I'm here at Olympic stadium, Mark, and all I can see around me is disease, death, and devastation. We're huddled around a small fire, unable to compete, just trying to stay warm. What will we do, Mark? Where will we go?" And people say that Democrats are pessimistic and defeatist--well, we've got nothing on American sports broadcasters. Let's have some happy stories--we're a big, multicultural society--let's be happy that the Japanese skater is doing so well--let's cheer on the Chinese ski flipping guy--let's not be a bunch of sore losers. The Cold War is over. As Slate put it, Al Quaeda doesn't have a bobsledding team.

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