Tuesday, February 16, 2010

See You In My Dreamworks

Now that I think of it, there is an opportunity for satire coming out of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but it has nothing to do with the athletes or even the uncooperative weather. Rather, it has to do with the contributions to NBC's Olympics "coverage" from Dreamworks, the studio found by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen - namely, animation showing how the Winter Games likely would have been contested in the days of the Vikings.
Dreamworks, of course, is using NBC's sports division (and NBC is happy to let them do so, for a price) to promote their new 3-D computer-animated movie, How To Train Your Dragon, about a young Viking lad who decides he's rather keep a dragon as a pet than slay it. Based on the 2003 children's novel of the same name by British author Cressida Crowell, the movie has been promoted with numerous ads for it during the commercial breaks on the Winter Olympics broadcasts. This is fine by me, but NBC has also seen fit to include animations of the movie's characters demonstrating what skiing, snowboarding, and medal ceremonies might have been like in the days of the Vikings. Bob Costas himself introduces these clips as if they were part of the Olympic experience.
I don't want to contemplate how the Winter Olympics might have been contested in the Viking age any more than I want to contemplate what casual Fridays might have been like in Victorian England. Because it's dumb. This synergistic tie-in with the movie only cheapens the Olympic viewing experience for those of us who want to see luge sledding, or even curling. It also blurs the line between advertising and event coverage even more than the placement of Coke machines in movies made by Columbia Pictures blurred the line between art and advertising back when Coca-Cola owned that studio in the eighties. Show the ads for How To Train Your Dragon, by all means, but don't make the movie part of the event it's sponsoring.
Oh yeah, the inevitable human interest stories are back. Last night, Mary Carillo reported on polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba - a part of Canada, sure, but nowhere near Vancouver, where the Winter Games are actually taking place. Churchill, apparently, is enjoying more suitable weather for winter sports than Vancouver these days. Well, you can't have the Winter Games up there with all those polar bears wandering around.
Polar bears. . . . For white bourgeois American liberals who pretend to care about the planet, polar bears are the new whales.

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