I WATCHED ALL the television countdowns and retrospectives--from MTV's "Year in Rock" to local cable's "Year in Tri-County Football"--when I was home for vacation. I got nostalgic and sad as usual. It seemed like just yesterday that I was studying for exams while watching non-stop news coverage of the beginning of the Gulf War. And what I really wanted was to halt time so that I wouldn't have to take exams again.
It wasn't until I heard Barry Manilow sing "It's Just Another New Year's Eve," that I was actually glad that we were moving on to 1992.
I tried to get into the spirit of the new year, so I made a couple of resolutions as the ball dropped in Times Square. I promised myself that I would not procrastinate on papers anymore (I failed that by writing this article), that I would learn to ski, that I would not complain about dining hall food, and that I would not--not under any circumstance, not even if the fate of the free world rested on my shoulders--order the Olympic Triplecast on pay-per-view cable.
I KNOW that the United States is in pretty bad shape, even compared to the rest of the world. The earth has crumbled a little during the beginning of the 1990s. The Berlin Wall isn't even rubble anymore. The Soviet Union is gone. Donald Trump can't meet his mortgage payments. All of these monumental developments seem to have made their mark on the 1992 Olympic Games.
But have we really sold out enough to stoop to this level of putting the Olympics, our last bastion of healthy competition and wholesome sporting rivalry, into the same arena as pornographic movies? After the end of the Gulf War, and the Cold War, you would think America had the security to function with a little more class.
Unfortunately, America is not in charge of this battle. Norman Schwartzkopf cannot run the Games like a fine-tuned military machine and save us from the media hype. No, this battle is firmly in the hands of the corporate minds at M&M, Hallmark Cards, Tropicana Orange Juice and P.B. Max candy bars. That's not P.B. for Polluted Broadcasting, is it?
Watching the endless commercials touting the "break-though new concept to broadcast the Summer Olympics on pay-per-view cable," I'd almost rather watch pornography, or maybe, a Mike Tyson heavyweight bout. Or at least Mike Tyson in a pornographic heavyweight bout, but I think that gets broadcast for free on Court TV.
If you watched television over vaction, you couldn't miss the commercials for the Olympic telecast package. The 800 number (1-800-OLYMPIC) was flashed across the screen in an all-out media blitz to sell this cable package before the end of February.
The Triplecast doesn't sound sinister in the commercials. It actually sounds like a great deal. You get all the events you want--every second of every competition on three different stations. That's 1080 hours of commercial-free competition over the span of 15 days.
If you are an American and a sports fan, how could you stand to miss the controversy when our brightest gold medal hopefuls get a 2.2 in synchonized swimming from the judge from the Upper-Bavaria/East Hanover Coalition of Independent and Completely Autonomous Spaces of Partitioned Territory?
Do you think you could live without the suspense of whether or not flag-waver Charles Barkley, who said he only wanted to go to the Olympics so he could take his mom to Spain, will show up for his preliminary basketball games?
Doesn't everyone want to see the fights among the contingents from the former Soviet Union as they line up for the big parade?
And how could anyone live without hearing the Ukrainian National anthem for the first time?
THESE ARE ALL great benefits. And if you order the Gold Medal package, you also get $75 worth of exclusive (voice-mail generated emphaisis) Olympic memorabilia. You can't get this merchandise anywhere else, not even on the Home Shopping Network. You also get a chance to enter the sweepstakes for tickets to America's more important sporting event--the Super Bowl.
What does this grand package cost? A whopping $180. Which, the nice mechanical voice in the touch-tone maze says, is just 18 cents a minute. And you can pay in five easy credit installments. And hey, if you order now, they will even throw in a free NBC highlights video.
It sounds like a great deal, right? Sure, but we've always gotten more than enough Olympics coverage to last us four years, and we've always gotten it for free. Not even the grandparents of the competitors are going to shell out that kind of money to watch the maintenance crews set up the uneven bars at 3 a.m.
The grand schemers forgot to consider that all most Americans want is the highlights video. The Olympic wrap-up before the "Tonight Show" is quite enough for us. The joke is no longer on the East German judges. This year it's on the media handlers and spin-doctors.
In the full-blast media campaign over the next few weeks, they are going to subject us to free, full coverage of the biggest Olympic event--money-making. Only one thing is going to save us from this scourge of advertising greed--no dorm but DeWolfe gets cable.
Beth L. Pinsker '93 would like everyone to know that the HDS "Late Night Exam Snacks" Mexican Fiesta was the official snack food of this editorial.
No Olympic Triplecasts for me in '92.