by Nick Mele
Pax Christi USA National Council member
Watching the edited, delayed coverage of the London Olympic Games, I was struck during the opening ceremonies by the myths which lie beneath the spectacle. Glastonbury Tor, a reference to the legends of King Arthur, alerted me to take a close look at Olympic subtexts that reveal a fascination with male power and military dominance. After all, King Arthur was a warrior monarch, when all is said and done. Then there were the twin oddities of Queen Elizabeth as a “Bond girl” and a regiment of paratrooper nannies defeating various baddies. The episodes framed the Olympics as a display of military prowess and a metaphor for dominance.
U.S. coverage of the various Olympic events emphasized dominance in describing the various competitions and results. When Michael Phelps won silver in the men’s 200 meter butterfly race, the NBC commentary focused on the fact that he had not won the gold. In contrast, Canadian coverage celebrated Canadian athletes who won bronze medals and even those who finished in the top ten of their events.
The television coverage glorified young bodies, male and female, tuned to perfect condition and appearance—not much mention of the grueling training and diet regimes the athletes live by, from childhood in many cases. As with the opening ceremonies, fantasy and icons step in front of reality. Similarly, our media do not much mention the destruction of those glorious young bodies in war, whether caused by drones, IEDs, firefights or artillery…