Don’t Blame NBC For Editing Out The Memorial To Terrorist Victims

by evanmcmurry

Will Leitch, writing about the Olympics (it’s unclear whether he penned this before or after the brouhaha over NBC’s editing of the terrorist memorial out of the telecast, but Deadspin makes the logical connection, so I will too):

The way network execs think we consume the Olympics isn’t the same as the way we consume other sports. We don’t watch the Olympics the way we watch the NFL; we watch the Olympics the way we watch “Project Runway.”

I don’t say that with derision. (I love “Project Runway.”) I just think that the way we watch the Olympics is similar to how we watch reality shows. They are easily packaged, escapist entertainment that introduce us to characters — who exist in large part for the specific purpose of the cameras watching them — whom we have not met before, partaking in activities that we do not understand and have not thought much about before. We obsess over them as if they are our friends, particularly if they’re American, and we invest our emotional capital in their stories, their successes and their failures. For two or three weeks, we care so much. And then we do not think about them again.

[…] We haven’t given Phelps a second thought in the last four years because we don’t really care about swimming. We care about programming. We care about Phelps like we care about Christian Siriano, who won “Project Runway’s” fourth season. I was deeply invested in Phelps the same way I was invested in Siriano’s designs. And then the season ended and I never thought about him again. It’s reality television. It’s programming.

In short, cry all you want about NBC editing out something you may have wanted to see, but we’re the ones who have gleefully accepted a manufactured reality from networks as a substitute for the real thing. Leitch is right: we trained NBC how to edit.