Hermann Hates #11
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 96 12:49:07 -0700
Subject: Hermann Hates #11
GOOD NEWS! "HERMANN HATES" IS ON THE WEB!
Yes, your prayers have finally been answered. Issues #6-10 can now be viewed
Issues #1-5 are in the works.
At least two other web-sites that I'm aware of are also posting back issues.
The Fun_People archive at http://www.langston.com/Fun_People/1996/1996AXU.html
has issue #4, "Hermann Hates Dogs," tucked away in their 5/7/96 issue. And
[another web site that no longer has it] has posted issue #10 and seems to
intend to post more.
If anyone is aware of any more web-site appearances by Hermann Hates, please
alert me to them. I want to know what listings to give out when I start
campaigning for inclusion on everybody's search engines and hot lists.
Also: I've just posted my first guerrilla column. This very issue can now
be viewed by AOL users at Keyword: Olympics by going to the Olympic News
folder in the Fan Connection Message Boards. Tell a friend.
And now, on with this week's column.....
HERMANN HATES The Olympics
--Official Column of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta--
Copyright 1996 by Andrew Hermann
I apologize that I'm a little behind schedule in my column writing, but I
like everyone else have spent the last two weeks learning the difference
between flyweight and bantamweight, prying into the personal lives of
fifteen-year-old girls from China and the Ukraine, and laughing myself silly
at all those guys splashing through a big puddle in the 3000-meter
steeplechase. Oh, and of course, watching all those cool new commercials.
Man, those were some mighty cool commercials, huh? I think NBC must've
created the "Dick Enberg Moment" so we could all have a bathroom break,
because you sure didn't want to be on the can when that guy came on and told
Emmett Smith, "I'm chill to that tip, Mac Daddy."
I know I'm a little behind on this by now, but I want to get my two cents in
because, dammit, that's what this column is all about. Let it be known that
the 1996 Atlanta Olympics were America's most ridiculous foreign relations
bungle since George Bush sullied the Japanese Prime Minister's wingtips.
Never mind that we managed to demonstrate that our lone psychopaths are more
effective than other countries' terrorist groups. Never mind that our
athletes were the whiniest, our coaches the hammiest, our fans the most
obnoxious, the Tomahawk Chop running a close second behind the Munich '36
Sieg Heil for Most Offensive Gesture in Olympic History. No, all of that is
forgivable if not downright endearing when compared to the rampant,
shameless, good old-fashioned American greed that was on display in every
nook and cranny of this year's Olympics. Between the pavilions of
consumerism at Olympic park and the Olympic torch pace car hawking bottles of
Coca-Cola in advance of the eternal flame all across this great land, we
definitely came off as the Most Decorated Boor of the 1996 Summer Games.
The prime offender in all this cupidity was, of course, NBC, who milked the
advertising and ratings game dry by packaging, repackaging, reconstructing,
dumbing down, diluting, and otherwise endeavoring to turn the greatest
athletic event in the world into a gigantic, flag-waving human interest
story. It was bad enough that they spliced together half the events we saw
and broadcast them hours later in a format called "plausibly live." (Does
that mean one could call Bob Costas' hair "plausibly his"? How about Summer
Sanders' swimming commentary "plausibly relevant"?) But on top of that, they
had to take advantage of this coup in Frankensteinian sports broadcasting by
inserting all sorts of cheesy little sidebars about the athletes and their
events, complete with VH1 soundtrack and the insufferable John Tesh intoning
words he just learned how to pronounce five minutes ago: "Perseverance.
Persistance. An indominatable spirit. For these young athletes, it is the
ultimate test. And the ultimate sacrifice." We NBC viewers know just how
they felt, John.
Then there were those commercials--ah, those commercials! If it hadn't been
for the "I'm chill to that tip" guy it would have been one big, non-stop
schmaltz-a-thon. What hamburgers and sugary soft drinks have to do with
athletes pursuing dreams and overcoming adversity I'm still not sure, but
after two weeks of Proud Sponsor carpet bombing the connection is no doubt
burned into all our psyches. If your kid starts shoveling down Arch Deluxes
before his swim meet, don't be surprised.
Even the city of Atlanta, in its own small way, managed to get in on the
feeding frenzy. Restaurants all over downtown posted "local" and "visitor"
prices, and guess what? The "visitor" prices were a jacked-up rip-off.
Nothing like a little southern hospitality to teach our foreign guests and
their fans a lesson in free-market economics.
The athletes, to their credit, managed for the most part to rise above the
consumerist hoopla, although watching the twenty-fifth replay of Michael
Johnson's amazing 200-meter sprint, I couldn't help but wonder how much Nike
paid him to wear those gold shoes.
A handful of our athletes, however, managed to create their own brand of
hoopla around their incalculable wealth, ego, and hubris.
Yes, while Amy Van Dyken, the women's soccer team, and other U.S. athletes
who accomplished something that actually mattered were stuck in traffic on
the shuttle back to the Olympic Village, Sir Charles & Co. were at Atlanta's
answer to the Four Seasons swapping investment tips and complaining about the
room service. While others were actually competing, Shaq, Penny, and the
Admiral were slouching on the bench and sleepily gazing up at the clock, or
shuffling down the court and sleepily posting up against guys half their
size. And while Reggie Miller is figuring out how to weld his gold medal to
the grille of his Rolls Royce, the majority of his fellow athletes will be
going back to school, or to monastic training regimens, or God forbid,
turning pro and hitting the public appearances circuit.
In return for almost permanently wrecking her ankle and winning the first
U.S. team gymnastics gold in something like forever, Kerri Strug gets the
chance to perhaps make one-fiftieth of Scottie Pippin's salary. There's a
pervading sense that she's somehow selling out by saying goodbye to her
amateur status, but I say, more power to her. In comparison to the greed we
saw on display at Atlanta '96, she's just making an honest buck.
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© 1996 Peter Langston