So I was watching the Olympics, which is what everyone is doing these days, and we’ll get to that in a moment.
What I was watching is that one gymnastics event… you know the one, where the gymnast hangs from a pair of parallel bars and does her amazing acrobatics while suspended above several horizontal sheets of glass, each separated by about six inches.
In the event I watched, the gymnast made a costly error that resulted in her legs sweeping through several of those sheets of glass, shattering the glass (which I admit was visually stunning, especially in the slo-mo shot). On the other hand, her legs, muscles and tendons were severely lacerated, ending her career.
I thought to myself, “Self, this is whack. The Olympics has sunk to new depths. I wouldn’t normally bother blogging about something as everywhere as the Olympics, but this I need to write a blog post about!”
I think you know what’s coming, so let’s all say it together (on three, 1… 2… 3…), “And then I woke up.”
Really, your first clue should have been that I don’t watch the Olympics. I just don’t. But it’s a mega-buck spectacle, you say. That’s reason #2 I reply. But everyone’s watching, you say. And that’s reason #1, I reply.
At some point, early in life, I took that Frost poem completely, utterly seriously and determined to always take The Road Not Taken. Where large groups of
people gather, I avoid, almost instinctively at this point. (I don’t like crowds (or, to be very honest, most people). They don’t make me anxious or nervous; I just don’t like them. They seem to spoil things. I can’t count the concerts and movies I’ve been to where the experience has been corrupted by those who don’t know how to behave in public.)
I’m fine with the idea of the Olympics. I rather admire the idea, in fact. And I have nothing against sports or sports extravaganzas. (I could really do without the Black Eyed Peas at the Super Bowl halftime show, though. That was a huge mistake and especially egregious following the Springsteen performance the year before. (And, yes, I do watch the Super Bowl, which may seem contrary to the principles stated above, but (a) I’m paradoxical and (2) consistency is the sign of small minds, so (iii) sue me.))
What bothers me is how the Olympics takes over everything. It fills the news, it fills conversation. I can’t even be on chat during a Twins game without someone feeling the need to post observations about the latest O-event. And then, after a few weeks of obsession, the collective “mind” (for lack of a better word) moves on to its latest obsession. Probably more videos of kittens.
What bothers me even more is how it becomes this “Event” wherein the original purpose and meaning is lost, and it all becomes nothing more than a way to earn money. Lots and lots and lots of money. There’s the Frost Ethic, but even more I’m an anti-materialist; someone who deeply believes that greed—the lust for money, more money—is the root of much evil. So as pretty as all that spectacle is, it also represents something truly ugly to me.
[As a side note, that sort of happened with the Occupy Wall Street movement. It became, in part, an “Event” like a Grateful Dead concert, and purpose and meaning were lost among the various hawkers and booths. As another famous poem tells us, “The center cannot hold.” Pity.]
And one more thing. What’s with all the gymnast pictures such as the one on the right there? Seriously, Go Ogle Images for [women’s gymnastics bars] and note the huge preponderance of images like that. Granted, you’ll find some images of men in a similar pose, and, yes, it is a canonical pose for bar-based gymnastics, but given the ages of these gals… I donno. It doesn’t offend me or turn me on… It just kinda makes me go, “Huh. Weird, that.” Might be remnants of my old-fashioned upbringing. Whatever.
Enjoy the Olympics, if that’s your flavor. Ain’t mine, so I’ll see ya downstream.