Thursday, May 1, 2008

Let's Give 'Em Something Better to Talk About

Apparently the dramatic new Jennifer Sey book Chalked Up featured on Channel 7's Sunrise program this morning, and Kochie and Mel and their happy shiny friends were all a-twitter about the nasty, nasty coaches and their fragile charges. Or something like that, I wasn't home to watch any of it. But a video is up at the Sunrise website (which, typically, will not work for me). Jane Allen answered a few queries but the public will not be swayed. Kochie and Mel are Oracles of All That is Wordly and Good and Australian. To them and their executives, Gymnastics Is Bad and Nobody Involved in It is Satisifed or Fulfilled.


Somebody write to them. Please. I couldn't access the email thingy on the website and it'll be a cold day in hell before I text them my opinion and let Channel 7 take my money. My temperamental dial-up angers me but ignorance angers me more. If they're not slamming the nature of the sport, they're two-facedly doing a patronising fluff piece, addressing a girl of 17 like she's 7 and plastering on smiles as they wish her luck for the Games and claim to 'envy' her athleticism.

I am sick of ill-informed and sensationalist pieces on our sport being put out for the public's viewing. They have taken Bela Karolyi's fearsome reputation and run with it. God forbid a mainstream media type would construct a redeeming profile about a gymnast. God forbid they'd acknowledge how admired and respected Australian gymnasts are overseas, for their work ethic and for their outgoing personalities. God forbid a gymnast would get an ounce of the sponsorship the swimmers/runners/basketballers get.
I understand that Sey had some issues that needed to be aired, but the American system (particularly that of a decade or two ago) is *very* different to the Ausralian one, and not all circumstances there are applicable here. Jane Allen was right to say that our athletes are in fact quite well looked after, but it fell on deaf ears.

Here's a "Joke of the Day" for you, Mr Koch: You don't research your pieces. You practise concerned looks in the mirror and then they manifest on camera. Someone researched this piece for you, and wrote the questions for you. You read your autocue without a hint of engagement - the issue could be abuse in gymnastics, or AFL tribual hearings, or doping, or famine, or war, or fashion, or crisis- and you forget about it the next day, assuming it lingered with noone. You've done business and a bit of law, surely you know defamation and slander when you see it? I find AFL football more destructive, if you ask me. It promotes alcohol consumption, verbal abuse, "tribe" culture, aggressive conduct, blatant commercialism and, let's face it, good old heterosexual masculinity as a hegemonic discourse (put your jokebook aside and get a dictionary, you balding fool). I support Essendon but hardly in a fanatic manner. I've been to two matches in the last three years or so. Gymnastics promotes good sportspersonship, personal development, international relations, performance skills, movement and flexibility, and, let's face it - athletics that is nice to look at. Gymnasts are focussed, balanced and insightful individuals who are never given enough credit unless they win something. Even then, they're a national sweetheart for a couple of days. It's not fair.

What I find funnier is that they don't bother to champion the cause of Sam Simpson, our sole male representative at the Games, who has a blog on the Channel 7 Olympics website, as does Naazmi Johnston. You love underdogs, dontcha, Kochie?

Trust me. Come Beijing, if Dasha makes the all-around podium or Lauren snatches a medal on beam, Kochie will be fawning himself sick over either of them, and going on and on in his croaky drawl about how the dark horses prevailed over "the Rrrussians, who are known to be pretty good, aren't they!" (he hasn't said that recently but I predict something along those lines is waiting to spew from the cognitive assembly line of his ocker lexicon in August) and feign concern as he asks whether the 'tiny young thing' was nervous or excited or indifferent or grateful that they had the all-new Toyota Fantabulous X3000 logo on their tracksuit to bring them luck and a double-pack of Berocca: The Choice of Jittery Champions in their bag for in between rotations.

I'm "Waking Up With Friends" on Sunrise? Please. Wake me up when the sun stops shining out your arse and you do some positive, well-informed sports journalism. Without the jingoism and preferrably without ONE mention of Jana Rawlinson, if you please.

Edit: It was brought to my attention that, the day prior, Channel 7/Sunrise promoted the piece using footage of Monette Russo from the 2005 World Championships (which they broadcasted). Monette was in no way connected to this piece nor the contents of Sey's book. I think this is a very unfair and inexcusable move by the program, as it throws a negative light onto an athlete who probably didn't even know her image was being used in the first place. Shame shame shame.


Asha said...

I saw this morning's report and it was the biggest waste of time. All they'd done was taken footage of Jennifer Sey speaking to an NBC (I think) reporter. They then spoke to an Australian sports psychologist but of course you can't compare the American system of the 80's under Bela Karolyi to the Aussie system of today. They were really clutching at straws to even try and link the two. The whole thing reminded me of why I don't watch Sunrise!

Mez said...

Apparently, the day before to promote the story, they used footage of Monette Russo from 2005 Worlds. She had no connection to the piece whatsoever so now I think it's fair to say her reputation is tarnished (or at least, unecessarily called into question). That's inexcusable.

Anonymous said...

To change perceptions in the media game you need to get in there and play the game hard rather than screaming abuse from the sidelines.

I understand that's not your role but let's hope someone within Gymnastics Australia, sees it as theirs.

I am a former journalist, now corporate media adviser, unwittingly drawn into gymnastics, through one of my daughters.

Love your passion - hopefully there are some people within Gymnastics Australia who share it and have some media savvy as well.

Anonymous said...

I HATE Kochie. I hate sunrise and actually most 'current affairs' programs in general. They are usually full of lies and rubbish. The only programs in current affairs worth watching are on the abc.