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Events Ads Fluff


August 21, 2016

Power-Down Rio, Power-Up Japan!

A Zika-free Games concludes with a flashy, violence-free party.

  • It's almost over, time for some smooth Rio Gold. That's what NBC is calling this intro show. Will this be fluff or events? This show will count as neither because my cable listing doesn't call this "Olympics." I'm only watching this because I've got nothing better to do. But I'm guessing most of this is just going to be a replay clip show. I'll start the official Rockwood Olympics Watch count at 7 pm Central Time when the Closing Ceremonies (CC) are finally underway.
  • And here they are! Your hosts for the night are Mike Tirico for your knowledgable sports commentary, Mary Carillo as the Queen of Fluff, and the Man Most Likely To Take Over The Olympics, Ryan Seacrest.
  • Mike let's us know that because the soccer matches took place here at Maracana Stadium yesterday, there hasn't been a practice run-through of the CC, so we're live without a net.
  • Like every other CC, I will do my best to describe the goings-on without sounding like I'm on drugs.
  • Hundreds of marchers invade the floor and do their best marching band impression, forming figures of the Christ the Redeemer statue, a moving cable car, the Rio Olympics logo, and finally the Olympic rings.
  • Thomas Bach, chairman of the IOC, watches on from his box seat as he awaits delivery of his suitcase full of payoff money from the Rio Olympic Committee. Just kidding! Of course that's not why he's here! (It's TOTALLY why he's here.)
  • And now let's all enjoy the vocal stylings of Brazil's greatest star, Martinho da Vila. Who? That says all you need to know about Brazil's greatest stars.
  • A bunch of children dressed in white sing Brazil's national anthem as yellow and green dots gets projected onto the stadium floor. This song is looooong. What is their national anthem? A Portuguese "In A Gadda Da Vida"?
  • Here come the flags of the participating countries. Simone Biles carries in the US flag, in case you're interested. They seeming wander around for a few minutes, and then the athletes come in, similarly wandering around. No wonder they didn't need any time to practice this.
  • Featured now in the CC, people lining up to take selfies with Simone Biles. Also, people putting on cheap plastic ponchos because it just started raining again. Now Mary, Mike, and Ryan are talking about how the expected troubles with Rio never showed up. You know what else never showed up? The fans. Even in tonight's CC there appear to be thousands of empty seats. Maybe everyone is just buying souvenir soda cups at the concession stands while thousands of athletes wander aimlessly onto the stadium floor.
  • Now singer Julia Michaels of Iowa and keyboardist Tygo of Norway are performing on stage as background music for the announcement of The Olympic Channel, because the IOC doesn't have enough dirty money already.
  • Back to the weirdness. More marchers with giant paper cards mounted over their heads do a lackluster attempt at matching the Beijing dancers formation creation skills. They make some diamond-shaped formations before they just bunch up in the middle of the stadium and flip their cards seemingly at random. I'm pretty sure they just made a Brazilian swastika before they reformed into the words "Rio 2016." Then they march off the stadium floor. You'll hear about the swastika tomorrow on some website that specializes in getting outraged at everything.
  • The stage goes black and dozens of women in big white dresses come out to dance. Mary says this pays tribute to the slaves who were authorized to sell lace in the streets. Oddly enough, with the white floor, white dresses and the rain coming down, this actually looks like a winter Olympics. Technically, since Brazil is in the southern hemisphere, this actually IS the winter for them, so maybe that's appropriate.
  • Now is the time in Rio when we dance! Lots of interpretive dancers dance interpretively.
  • Hundreds of people dressed in red outfits with white trim come out to dance. Not only are their clothes red, but so are the people. All their faces are made up to be completely red with the exception of their sunglasses, which all have bright white eyes printed on them. It's kind of creeping me out. They all look like this.
  • Our lone event-related item of the night, the marathon medal ceremony. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won gold, but American Galen Rupp won bronze.
  • Let's raise the flag of corruption! Sorry, I meant to say "Greece". Same thing. We're now in the formality portion of the CC. The Greece flag joins the Brazil flag on the podium as Thomas Bach prepares to ceremonially transfer the satchel of dirty money from Rio to Tokyo. A group of smiling children cheerfully sings the Olympic anthem, "Money, money, money, money…"
  • Now Japan gets a chance for weird art. The stage is lit up completely red. Then from the sides of the floor, Segway-riding robot women with giant hoop dresses and spherical heads slowly converge on the center of the floor. As they do so, they "push" the red from the edges to the middle, making a big red circle like the Japanese flag.
  • They're already overusing this symbol. The red circle takes the place of every letter "O" in everything about the Tokyo 2020 Games. They've been promoting it for 60 seconds and I'm already tired of it.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, realizing that he can't make it to Rio on time, turns himself into Mario, tunnels through the Earth and pops out of a big green warp pipe in the middle of Maracana Stadium floor. That pipe is then surrounded by a bunch boxes made of neon sticks, which are then pushed together to make an abstract skyline. A projected Mount Fuji rises behind the symbolic skyline along with the "see you in Tokyo" message at the bottom. So, that's your bit of manga for the night.
  • Thomas Bach steps to the podium to tell everyone how much money he's pocketed this year. Ha ha ha ha! No, no, no… he would never actually tell you that. It's a secret. He really steps to the podium to tell everyone in Brazil how wonderful they are. "We will continue to be at your side after these Olympic Games," says Bach, one foot already on the plane out of this sewage-infested hellhole. He then honors Brazilians in general by presenting six specific Brazilians with the Olympic Cup. What is that for? I don't remember that from previous Games, but maybe it was edited out because NBC thought it was lame. They were right if they did.
  • Bach proclaims the Games closed and says "Bye-bye, Rio." He will never set foot in this country again.
  • A bunch of people dressed up as multicolor decorative shrubbery come out to the floor and mingle about. It looks like the Fruit of the Loom guys started a dance troupe.
  • I think Ryan Seacrest's plan for taking over the Olympics is to let Mary Carillo and Mike Tirico bumble about in their commentary until everyone gets sick of them.
  • "Nothing Lasts Forever" croons a Brazilian singer as the Olympic flame is extinguished by a fake rainstorm. Mary says it gets her vote for most favorite flame out. No one has a favorite extinguishing. But everyone knows what the best lighting was.
  • Carnival! A giant mesh tree rises from the center of the floor and the Fruit of the Loom Guys surround it, dancing all the while. A marching band struts through, followed by some mimes and some dancing girls. Mary tells us that one of them is Izabel Goulart. Well, that makes up for a lack of practice.
  • Really, there's not much to say anymore. Nothing organized appears to be happening on the floor at Rio. It's just a bunch of scantily-clad Carnival dancers and samba music and–

    Wait a minute. Now the floats are coming in. Well, the floats also have scantily-clad dancers and samba music, so it's still not that different, but it's something. The scantily-clad dancer on top of the float seems to be just seconds away from a wardrobe malfunction, and NBC keeps cutting to her. Some director is tempting fate.
  • Fireworks erupt over the stadium. Rio has abandoned "storyline CC" and opted for "party CC" instead. Well played, Rio. Well played.
  • In the booth, Mary, Mike, and Ryan talk again about how Rio wasn't a disaster as expected. I believe that's called "damning with faint praise."
  • Finally, Bob closes with a speech I'm sure he's been honing for over a week, highlight Brazilians love for their country and the accomplishments of Phelps, Biles, Bolt and others. And with that, he segues into one last set of highlight clips. It seems only fitting that we close the Rio Olympics coverage with several minutes of fluff. However, this is the one bit of fluff I don't mind during the Olympics. The Games are over, the torch is out, and there's just enough time left to remember once more what it is about this competition that makes it special. For one time every four years, it's great to get that feeling.

    See, Bob? I can close out with some sentimental pablum, too. Thanks for joining me on this crazy adventure one more time. See you in PyeongChang in 2018!

So that's it! And what conclusions can we draw from what's happened over the past two weeks? Well, first, don't let Ryan Lochte be your leader. But I know you're wondering about total times for everything. Here's how it's broken down over the past Olympics:

  Events Ads Fluff
2000 Sydney 62.7% 24.4% 12.9%
2002 Salt Lake I attended the Salt Lake Games, thus I didn't keep time for them.
2004 Athens 68.1% 23.5% 8.3%
2006 Turin 65.0% 27.0% 8.0%
2008 Beijing 70.8% 22.1% 7.1%
2010 Vancouver 68.2% 23.9% 7.9%
2012 London 66.8% 23.8% 9.4%
2016 Rio 69.2% 24.9% 5.9%


I don't have data for the Sochi Olympics in 2014 because I was too lazy to add it up that year. But I think you can join me in being surprised that not only did Rio have an uptick in events, it also had the least amount of fluff that the Rockwood Olympic Watch has ever tallied. That's not to say there couldn't be less. In raw times, there was 46 hours, 36 minutes of events in these Olympics, 16:49 of ads, and 3:59 of fluff. That is, four hours –almost one whole night– of coverage was dedicated to non-events. What could we have seen in prime time had we not had the fluff? Taekwondo, BMX, fencing, boxing, wrestling, archery, shooting... none of these had nighttime coverage on NBC. Take away one night's worth of fluff and we could have seen all of them. Things were better this year, NBC, but there's still room for improvement in 2018!