The Olympics on Television

Below is an article that I wrote a week before the 2012 Olympics (the greatest show on earth, amirite!?). I submitted it for the Ideas Tap magazine and, quite understandably, it was rejected. My thoughts on the Olympics, I found out the following week, were not shared by the vast majority of the general public, who lapped the McDonald’s-sponsored bullshit right up.

For artists, entertainers and musicians there’s a large degree of shame attached to endorsing corporations. Lending your name to heartless global enterprise is to sacrifice one’s artistic integrity, to sell out. Those who do this become pariahs in their respective fields—or worse, they become Ben Elton.

Fortunately, no such stigma is attached to athletics, which is why McDonald’s are the official sponsors of the 2012 Olympics, like a cruel, mocking joke at obesity’s expense. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, two impotent-looking grey cocks have been appointed as the games’ official mascots, designed by a man who wishes he could come up with characters as strong as Marge Simpson’s “Ghost Mutt”.

Wenlock and Mandeville are the names of these two animated phalluses and I’m almost certain that we’ll be seeing more of them over the coming few weeks. That is, if you choose to watch the Olympics, and come on, why wouldn’t you? The sport aside, the coverage for these types of events is always an absolute treat.

Personally, I’m hoping for a repeat of when Channel 4 broadcast The IAAF World Athletics Championships, when presenter Ortis Deley repeatedly failed to pronounce the name of The Honourable Usain St. Leo Bolt, the athlete he’d just described as “the hottest in the competition”.

However, it’s not the coverage or indeed the sport that you want to see, is it? It’s the embarrassing opening ceremony, when the world will tune in in unison to the bumbling Britishness that is Boris Johnson. How they’ll laugh at us and our crap attempt to one up what China did in 2008: us and our walking, semi-flaccid penises, one of which happens to be the Mayor of London.

The ceremony will be called “The Isles of Wonder”, perhaps because it’ll have you wondering a whole number of things. Firstly, you’ll wonder why the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle agreed to direct the ceremony. Secondly, you’ll wonder why Daniel Craig agreed to be in it. And thirdly, you’ll wonder what’s on the other channels.

The closing ceremony doesn’t sound much better either, although Take That and The Who are set to perform, which could be fun—if The Who rip the faces off of Take That. There’s also music from Bombay Bicycle Club, a faux-indie/folk band who have perplexingly named themselves after a chain of curry restaurants and Boris Johnson performing something called a handover, which I think is like a reach around, I don’t know. Maybe that’s where Wenlock and Mandeville fit in.

Of course, if you were thinking of not watching any of this, then I’m afraid that as a Brit you’re contractually obliged to tune in (read the small print in your passport). And because no channel dares compete with the BBC during a major sporting event, there’s no point switching to something else either. Your only bet is to endure the McDonalds sponsored wonder that, as a taxpayer, you’ve paid for.

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