NBC Adds Victoria’s Secret Supermodels To Olympics Coverage
If you thought the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were already a pretty large middle finger to the socioeconomic disaster that local residents are embroiled in right now, then the NBC's latest broadcasting decision is definitely going to make you cringe.
On Tuesday NBC released a statement announcing that Brazilian-born supermodels Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio will be joining their coverage of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. According to the press release, the "ambassadors" will join Ryan Seacrest at the Copacabana Beach studio for NBC's late night coverage , as well as contribute across various other networks and programs.
“Adriana and Alessandra are the perfect ambassadors to guide viewers through the celebrations taking place outside of the competition, showcasing the off the field experience for Olympic fans,” said Jim Bell, Executive Producer for NBC Olympics.
Now it's obvious with the addition of Seacrest that NBC is looking to add more of a pop culture vibe to its coverage, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. They (hopefully) made that decision before local Rio police officers started greeting tourists with "Welcome to Hell" banners at the airport. Plus Seacrest is as seasoned a broadcaster as exists on television right now, and despite the fact that he is known for his entertainment reporting, he is more than capable of adapting to the needs of an Olympic telecast.
In short, this is what he does. Seacrest may not be able to break down the nuanced technique of Michael Phelp's butterfly stroke, but he's a man of the people and he has immense experience in being thoughtful and measured in live and taped television situations.
Lima and Ambrosio possess exactly zero of those qualifications. Not only are they not involved in sports professionally in any way, but they aren't involved in broadcasting either. Their only qualification is that they are from the country in which the Olympics are being held, and are exceedingly telegenic.
To be fair, this is certainly not the first time that a network has take beautiful people and stuck them on television for the sake of ratings, so that's really a secondary issue. But there will be people who are rightfully dismayed that jobs covering the most prestigious international sports event in the world are being handed to supermodels rather than men or women who work in sports and/or broadcasting for a living. Especially since it is such a competitive and difficult industry to thrive in at all. And that's certainly a point worth making, because you know, this isn't the 7th Annual Celebrity Beach Volleyball Tournament. It's the Olympics.
But the bigger issue - and the thing that should weigh on everyone's mind - is whether or not the programming that the models will star in is appropriate; in light of what is currently at stake for Brazilians right now.
Rio and Brazil are in a state of immense unrest. According to a Reuters article in June, the governor of Rio de Janeiro had declared a state of financial emergency and requested federal funds to help pay the necessary public services during the Olympics, with the state's Offical Gazette describing "a total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management."
"Rio is expecting about 500,000 foreign visitors during the Olympics, which has coincided with Brazil's worst recession since the 1930s and a political crisis that last month led to the suspension of President Dilma Rousseff."
Keeping that in mind, this is really not the time to try out a new late night format that features "Brazilian lifestyle" vignettes about the country's beach side hot spots and great local cuisine.
And perhaps that's not NBC's plan. Maybe they really are looking to use these ambassadors to Rio and Brazil as a component that can really expose and humanize the issues surrounding the Olympics. But if that's the case, then they should really be employing journalists and media members who are prepared to treat the coverage with the thoughtfulness and austerity that it merits.
I have no reason to believe that Lima and Ambrosio aren't passionate about the issues that their native country is facing. I'm sure that they're also pretty comfortable in front of the camera and that they'll hold their own in that regard. But there's just no getting around the fact that during this socially and politically chaotic period for Brazil, the move to include them in Olympic coverage is an ill-conceived, somewhat irresponsible ratings grab on the part of NBC.
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