I Just Have To Say….


On the subject of totalitarian impulses in today’s US, I am moved by the whole Gabby Douglas kerfuffle. As a mid-50s guy who would simply die if I contemplated gymnastics …

more of my mad photoshop skills

more of my mad photoshop skills

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I mean, really. Here’s this woman who’s worked herself beyond normal human limits, who’s trained and bled and sweated and competed at a level that boggles the mind. And won. Don’t forget that part.

She works herself to the peak of her skills, gets on an airplane, flies to Brazil, gets paraded around and gawked at, then, when she gets her chance to do her thing she fucking nails it to the ground like it was welded there. And the whole time she’s wearing the admittedly ugly US team rah rah suits. Every action she does is attached with “USA” USA

USA

And when she’s listening to the national anthem, that she’s heard however many zillion times she .. does whatever the fuck she wants to do, just like a person can and should do. And she’s subjected to abuse for not being patriotic enough?

I’m not a patriot. I think nationalism and totalitarian displays of unity are a bad idea; they are a barbaric remnant of human history. I would rather see the olympics be entirely about the athletes and not which country can spend money on silly outfits and sponsorship. I would rather see Gabby Douglas or Simone Biles compete as The Nation of Gabby or The Empire of Biles and they should be able to choose their own anthem to play when they stand at the podium.

As someone who’s utterly incapable of even understanding the level of effort it took to get to that podium, I just want to reach out across the internet and slap people silly for criticizing this person, from behind their safe keyboards, expending no more effort than a couple mouse-clicks. Slapping some of these people silly would still be vastly less work “for my country” than Gabby does in a day, but I guess I could be that patriotic.

Comments

  1. felicis says

    “I’m not a patriot. I think nationalism and totalitarian displays of unity are a bad idea; they are a barbaric remnant of human history.”

    Yes. This.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I would rather see the olympics be entirely about the athletes and not which country can spend money on silly outfits and sponsorship. I would rather see Gabby Douglas or Simone Biles compete as The Nation of Gabby or The Empire of Biles and they should be able to choose their own anthem to play when they stand at the podium.

    The athletes need that sponsorship. The only reason the UK was second in the medal table in Rio, beating China, was a ruthless focus of centralised funding on sports where it was believed we had a chance. Individual athletes competing without that kind of organisational backup would have a much harder time. Remove that, or even just remove the national teams that coordinate it, and athletic excellence to Olympic level will become the exclusive preserve of the independently wealthy (more so than it already is when it comes to something like equestrianism, where the UK has previously been represented by actual royalty).

  3. cartomancer says

    Britain came second this year, or so I hear (I have absolutely no love for sport of any description, much less the nationalist posturing kind). This suggests to me that we’re spending far too much on sports programmes.

    We came in ahead of a country whose population is sixteen times the size of ours, and just behind one with five times our population (which is also spending far too much, by this metric). We should be coming in around 20th, alongside France, Thailand and Turkey.

    When we do poorly at sport there are always calls from those who care about these things for more funding for sports programmes at grass roots level. The only sensible conclusion is thus that we must make swingeing cuts to all our athletics programmes and discourage children from pursuing them until our results decline to a level more in keeping with our demographics.

  4. says

    cartomancer@#4:
    It would make sense if the IOC accepted contributions from competing nations, and then provided training facilities for all. IOC would like it because it would increase their opportunity for jaw-dropping corruption.

    Uh, never mind.

    I actually don’t think the olympics can be fixed, which is why I hate them.

  5. says

    John Morales@#6:
    Yipe.

    When I was reading about Gabby’s career I caught the part about her breaking a bone at a growth plate. Yet she kept at it. She’s gonna feel that when she’s 40.

  6. says

    And that’s without asking the question of whether a white teenager would have been treated the same. (That’s not to infer that you didn’t think of it or consider it.) See also the backlash against Simone Manuel for her comments. It’s the same thing as with Colin Kaepernick in the last few days: the implication or even outright statements that “black people should be grateful for the opportunities white people give them”, to be pliant, compliant and not talk.

    John Morales (#6) –

    The Cracked item lists enough deplorable things that others were left out. Gymnastics isn’t just sexist, it’s sexualized. It’s not just about “male strength, female grace”, look at the clothes they wear. Male outfits are designed to bare their arms and put focus on muscles, female outfits designed to bare their legs and put the focus on their groins. With the average age of 16 among “adult” female gymnasts, it’s as pedophilic or hebephilic as the modeling industry.

    Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno was labelled “fat” for being a 20 year old woman. And she is tiny, barely 45kg.

  7. says

    left0ver1under@#8:
    the implication or even outright statements that “black people should be grateful for the opportunities white people give them”, to be pliant, compliant and not talk.

    Yup. I interpret those as totalitarian impulses. The people who are trying to make them shut up, comply, etc., are ultimately trying to make them shut up, and be white which they cannot do. Totalitarians think they are in touch with their hatred but I think they really don’t have a clue why they hate who they hate.

  8. John Morales says

    left0ver1under:

    The Cracked item lists enough deplorable things that others were left out. Gymnastics isn’t just sexist, it’s sexualized. It’s not just about “male strength, female grace”, look at the clothes they wear. Male outfits are designed to bare their arms and put focus on muscles, female outfits designed to bare their legs and put the focus on their groins. With the average age of 16 among “adult” female gymnasts, it’s as pedophilic or hebephilic as the modeling industry.

    Can’t dispute any of that. The featured image illustrates your point nicely.

    For me, the most salient point in the article was this:

    As you can imagine, you’re not exactly capable of choosing a fitting career path at age 2. “I don’t really remember my mom asking me if I wanted to do it,” said Lexi. “It’s what I grew up with. All my friends started that young too.

    By its very nature, it can’t possibly be an informed choice.

  9. says

    It does remind me of thoroughbred racing: they train the horses to it before their bodies are fully developed, get them to run past their limits and destroy thenselves, then put them out to pasture as waste.

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