Sunday, 9 February 2014

Olympic Opening Ceremony BBC coverage biased.

Back in the bad old days of the Soviet Union, when Western influences were frowned upon and aspects of western culture banned from the TV screens (What? the Russians had TVs back then?) western pop music could only be seen on the TV if it was accompanied by a political commentary criticising the decadent music - often drowning out the music itself.  But it seems this nanny state approach continues to this day in state owned socialist broadcasters.  BBC - I'm talking about YOU!

We couldn't just sit back and watch the spectacle of teh Winter Olympics opening ceremony, with the usual the dumb-ass commentary from sports commentators, we had to have a political commentary from the BBC's Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford - a decent enough and objective reporter - but here talking about the Olympics being propaganda for Putin, being overshadowed by security fears, allegations of corruption, complaints from unpaid construction workers and concern about the rights of sexual minorities in Russia.  I don't think that an explanation of the political context was appropriate at this point in the proceedings.

What took the biscuit though was Hazel Irvine's comments during the section depicting the post war period in the USSR - scenes of reconstruction, space achievements, as well as many popular cultural references from the  50s 60s 70s Soviet Union. The commentator remarked that the audience in the stadium were really loving this section and she was puzzled that this was the case. How come this was a happy period for them! For gods sake - the post-war USSR was never a North Korean style closed society or dictatorship.

I remember a radio interview with Rodric Braithwaite, former British Ambassador to Russia, who was discussing his book  "Moscow 1941" -  about the first year of Russia's involvement in the World War II; he described his interviewees recalling that terrible period in their lives with some fondness - despite the horrors of the battles, the hardship and the repression of the Stalin period, this was a time in their lives when they were young, made friends, had adventures, fell in love - the war was merely the backdrop.

Whatever the reality - nostalgia is nostalgia - it can be pleasurable making a trip down memory lane (although I think derives from the ancient Greek for our pain).  So it is hardly surprising that the Russian people of that generation thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

I was so incensed, I neglected to count the number of times "iconic" was mentioned.  This over-used the point of meaningless word is so ubiquitous in BBC broadcasts nowadays - such is the fall in journalistic standards in that institution.

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