After breaking a world record of our own this weekend for most hours spent lying on the couch watching the Olympics (Llew does something tricky where he tunes it through the old VCR so we can watch TV on the projector without actually owning a TV), I feel compelled to apologise to those poor unfortunates who aren’t Australian but have found themselves stuck in Australia during the Olympics. I’ve had ample opportunity to confirm the situation since last week’s almost speculative post about the coverage. Now I know it’s really happening. I didn’t just imagine it from the scant amount I’d seen. Nope. It’s real, and it’s worse than I thought.
Llew was recovering from food poisoning all weekend and I was recovering from dinner at Mike and Ben’s on Friday night, and the combination meant we blasted away all comers in the Couch Potato Final. And now I know I wasn’t just imagining the bias, all I can say is sorry chaps. It is acutely embarrassing, this refusal to show the whole program whether we Australians appear or not. I’m curious, too. Who decided Australians are only interested in watching Australians compete? EVERYONE I’ve spoken to about this, literally every single person, has said they’d prefer to get off the “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” bandwagon (nothing jangles my nerves quite like watching fat drunk Australians abroad bellowing out this mindless chant over and over again. How to communicate to the rest of the world that we don’t all carry a blow-up kangaroo with us at all times, nor do we smear green and gold zinc all over our faces as a matter of course…).
I can’t stand the ignorance of it. I can’t stand the fact that it breeds yet more ignorance, yet more misplaced ego-maniacal nationalistic stupidity, and yet more total delusion about our national significance to the rest of the world. I can’t stand the MEEKNESS of it, I think that’s what gets me most of all. It’s so pathetically meek. It demonstrates a really crippled capacity for global citizenry that leaves me feeling like all I want to do is flee the country for somewhere a little more secure. Oh, we’re safe as houses in many ways, but that’s not the kind of security I mean. I mean the type of security you sometimes encounter in a person or a place when you know they’re just genuinely open to otherness, they’re secure enough about their own identity, weaknesses, outright failings but also their accomplishments and positives, to be wholly engaged with the much more interesting question of what’s happening elsewhere or in someone else’s experience.
I just don’t find it very interesting to keep being told how blinding we are as sports people. Over and over again. They’re making us watch hours – hours – of boring qualifying matches in sports no one watches rather than showing ONE, just one replay of the men’s 100 m final. I know this because Llew and I watched a lot of Olympics coverage yesterday, and we had to wait until the 7 o’clock news to see the replay of Bolt’s historic win. Meanwhile 7 replayed the rowing we’d watched the day before, and kept replaying the swimming, over and over, like they’re the only things on. It’s just too stupid. Unbearably stupid. And not at all in the international spirit of the Games, or, indeed, the multicultural reality of Australian life. Are we that insecure that we can’t take the success of other nations in these Games on board? Are we honestly that sad and small and blinkered? That lacking in curiosity? That unable to celebrate every great story coming out of Beijing? I don’t think so, so I don’t understand the commercial coverage on 7 (unfortunately we can’t get SBS – is it better there? Does anyone know?), I really don’t, and I think it’s a sad indication of where we’re at, because ignorance always but always does nothing so well as beget more ignorance.